The United Nations' Language Competitive Examination —or UN LCE amongst friends—has undergone a complete makeover, just in time for its 2017 edition. Content-wise it is still the same exam, but the format was re-arranged in an effort to garner higher pass rates for those who make it to the second round.
Previously, the UN LCE for translators and the UN LCE for editors and verbatim reporters were two completely different exams. Monolinguals were allowed to sit the latter, since knowledge of other languages was preferred but not required.
Either exam was conducted in the same manner: first, hopefuls would take a short but timed screening exam online to determine whether they were worthy of sitting the actual proctored exam at UN offices worldwide. Those who passed the first round, were invited to the nearest testing location, on their own dime. There they would get a chance to try their hand at the full version of the exam.
The translators' LCE consisted of two parts: translation of a general text from one of the UN languages into English, and translation of second specialized text into English.
The editors and verbatim reporters' LCE also consisted of two parts and as you might suspect, entailed editing an English text and drafting a verbatim report based the hard-copy of a UN speech.
F0r 2017, they've decided to smash it all together and, if you weren't confused enough already, they also turned it all around.
Now it's the initial, timed online screening test that assesses candidates' translation, editing and verbatim reporting skills. Hopefuls are given an 8-hour window during a weekend in which to complete the approximately 5 hours worth of testing.
The longer, tougher exam has become the screening phase. The lucky (few?) who pass it, are then invited onsite to complete a proctored examination — no word yet on whether this phase is less arduous.
The goal of this new testing regime is likely to increase the pass rates for those who sit the second phase of the exam. It's also convenient for candidates, who no longer have to spend money out of their own pockets to get themselves to UN offices for a second round of examinations that they will likely not pass.
This new system assumes that only the best and the brightest —those who are the most likely to pass the second round— will be summoned to the next phase. Candidates might find it less constricting to self-finance a trip to a UN office when they are confident that they have a good chance at acing the test.
Those who are out of luck, are monolinguals. Before, they had a chance at UN language jobs within the field of editing, précis-writing and verbatim reporting. Grouping all exams together under the framework of the translation LCE, means that only candidates with at least three UN languages (their native language plus two others) have a chance at these posts.
Hi, I’m Carla McKirdy, conference interpreter, translator, copyeditor and author here at Lingua Boutique.
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