CTTIC Translation Certification Exam FAQ
If you are a STIBC member, please also see
If you are not yet a STIBC Member, you can find out about a STIBC membership under this link. The umbrella organization of STIBC is CTTIC (Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council) which regulates the national certification exams.
When will the next exam be held?
THE CTTIC exams are generally held in May each year, but please consult our events calendar for the latest information. Only members in good standing may register for the CTTIC exams; only members in good standing may receive their marks.
If you are planning on registering for the CTTIC exam, you must have become an associate member first.
Who should apply for the next exam?
Only those members who have at least four years of experience in translation or interpretation are encouraged to register for certification exams. Basic rules such as no addition, no ommission and no choice giving are of paramount importance in translating, especially for official documents, and they seem to be the most common mistakes many candidates make in certification translation exams. It is a very difficult exam to pass for those who don't have the right kind of experience.
Question/Answer and Orientation sessions are held throughout the year. Please see events to register for a session; all candidates are encouraged to attend. Certified members in all language combinations are encouraged to assist as volunteers to help answer questions. For details, contact STIBC.
How can I apply for the next exam?
Registration opens a few months before the exam. You can view the exam schedule in our events calendar and register online once registration is open. If you registered for this exam and did not receive an email confirmation afterwards, please contact the STIBC office.
What is the fee for the exam?
Please consult the STIBC Fee Schedule for the lastest CTTIC certification translation examination fee. A maximum of two examinations may be written in any one year.
Translation Examination General Information
- Duration of the examination: three hours
- Length: two texts of about 200 words each
The examinee will be given one compulsory general text of approximately 200 words, and a choice between two somewhat specialized texts of about 200 words each. Candidates may bring and consult any print reference works they wish, but they may not share these works with other candidates. (For languages not in English, the word count is based on equivalent text in English.)
Candidates who wish to do so may take two different examinations, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Please note that no electronic devices, including computers, cell phones, i-pads and blackberries are allowed at the exam.
Orientation and Preparation:
STIBC will hold preparatory workshops before the exam. In 2016, that may be in March. Contact the STIBC office if you wish to work with a mentor in your language combination.
To ensure anonymity, papers are identified by a number only. Each paper is marked by two correctors. The pass mark is 70%. The exams are marked using a point deduction system, where points are deducted per translation error. For example 10 points are deducted for a mistranslated word, 5 points for a grammatical error and 3 points for punctuation errors.
Communication of Exam Results:
Candidates will be notified of their results by email, and a mark will be indicated in the event of failure. Examination papers will not be returned to candidates. Please note that the minimum time for marking exams is four months.
In accordance with the regulations of the Examination Board, any candidate who fails the examination may appeal the result within one month of receiving notification of the results. A fee is payable for such appeals and will be refunded if the appeal is successful. The appeal decision is final.
How are the exams marked, and what do the comments mean?
(Answers provided by Creighton Douglas, Chair, CTTIC Board of Certification; Oct. 1998)
Let me assure candidates that every paper is carefully read and corrected by two markers, who must agree on the final mark. If they do not agree, the paper is referred to a third marker, whose decision is final.
The pass mark is 70% and any paper that falls between 65% and 70% is reviewed very carefully to ensure that a pass or failure is clearly justified.
Re "General Comments": they will usually seem repetitive, since the pattern of errors from candidate to candidate and from year to year is very similar. These comments in no way disqualify a candidate, but are written after the paper is marked to indicate the nature of the problems in a general way.
The term "transfer error" refers to a shift in meaning, sometimes quite subtle, between the original meaning in the source text and the meaning as translated into the target language. Such errors can be very important, but at the same time difficult for the candidate to recognize -- if the candidate had perceived the error, they likely would not have made it!
Why is there a fee for appeals? (answer provided by Mr. Creighton Douglas)
All examination and appeal fees are set by CTTIC and the provincial associations and are intended to cover exam-related costs. This is done on an overall basis, rather than on each paper, exam or appeal. Neither CTTIC, STIBC nor the other provincial associations could provide the certification service if a scheme to recover reasonable costs were not in place.