Nobody likes tests. Am I correct? There is pressure involved. Someone is either literally or figuratively looking down at you, judging your performance.
Unfortunately, tests are a large part of life.
Even professional editors have to take tests sometimes in the form of editing tests.
Whoa! you might think. You mean editors have to be tested at something at which they have proved their worth for years?
Well, sometimes, yes.
It is mostly freelance editors such as myself who need to take editing tests. Sometimes a lucrative gig will make itself known to me, but the person(s) offering the gig want to see how well I can edit before they take me on.
If you, dear reader, are a freelance editor, you have either found yourself in this position before or are soon going to find yourself in this position.
So what is the best way to take an editing test?
The first thing to do (after downloading the file and saving it under the same name with your initials added to the end) is turn on the Track Changes feature in MS Word and set it to All Markup. (If you don’t already know how to do this, please either Google how to do it or purchase a copy of Word 2019 for Dummies by Dan Gookin. Don’t worry, I am not calling you a dummy—this is the actual name of the book.)
Next, make a first pass through the written piece. During this pass, fix obvious spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Check for consistency in things like hyphenation and the use of the Oxford comma.
Then, make a second pass through the piece. Rewrite sentences that sound awkward or incorrect and explain why in the margin comments. If you read any sentence or phrase that is confusing and makes you ask what the author means, query the author in the comments.
Run a spellcheck, do a final save, and you are done! (I should add that you should save the document frequently while you are working.)
Finally, try not to imagine a mean-looking professor breathing down your neck as you edit the test. This is completely counterproductive.
After you have uploaded your finished test, sit back and relax and tell yourself that you are a good editor regardless of the outcome.
Whew! Is it any wonder that so many of us editors have impostor syndrome?