Post Academic


How to Handle an Editorial Test, Part 2: During the Test

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on June 18, 2010
Tags: , , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionTwo days ago, Post Academic gave tips for anyone who faces an editorial test, which is usually the first step to applying for a job as an editor, copy editor, or proofreader. Now here are tips to help you make it through the test while the clock is ticking:

Pace yourself. Speaking of, editorial tests are usually timed. Not only will you be graded on how many errors you catch, but you will also be graded on how quickly you can edit. Successful editors can strike a balance between the two. It’s fine if you can produce perfect copy, but not if you take all day to do it. Publishers have deadlines to meet.

Read the instructions for the test.
Any employer wants to know if you can follow directions. I cannot tell you how many people shot themselves in the proverbial foot by not paying attention.

Go over the document multiple times.
Truth is, you will not catch every error in a single pass, unless you are the best editor in the world. Read through the document once to catch the big, glaring errors. Then read through it for more subtle errors.

More after the jump! Caricature of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo from Kay’s Portraits, public domain on Wikimedia Commons.


Watch out for repetition. Sometimes, editorial tests will throw in large chunks of repeated content to make sure that you are paying attention and not just editing everything that passes through your eyeballs. Check for repetition in your second editorial pass.

Do not attempt to rewrite anything. Editorial tests are tricky because employers want to make sure you won’t irritate authors by changing the meaning of their original works. Your job is to save the author from embarrassment, so just let stylistic quirks go. If an author’s decision is grammatically correct, but it bugs you to no end, write a query on the side of the passage.

Even if this editorial test doesn’t result in employment, you will learn more each time you take a test. The content of editorial tests may change, but the basic principles remain the same. Stay focused, catch the big errors, and do your best to preserve the author’s original intent. Soon enough, you’ll get that editorial job.

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