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Descriptors and negative marking systems
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Descriptors and Negative Marking Systems – An International Comparison of Translator and Interpreter Certification Testing

Barry Turner

This paper examines the variety of assessment methodologies used for large-scale translating & interpreting certification testing, and in particular different approaches to the use of descriptors or negative marking systems in such assessment. A report by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) / National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) study (Turner and Ozolins, 2007) showed that some prominent certification bodies have moved or are moving towards using descriptors or combining negative marking and descriptors. The paper will explore the advantages and disadvantages of using negative marking and descriptors in translator and interpreter certification examinations, and the rationale behind the report’s recommendations that NAATI move towards descriptor-based testing. The aim will be to stimulate debate on assessment methods used in translator and interpreter certification testing, and to promote further study and research into this aspect of the translating and interpreting (T&I) profession.

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