Should You Consent to an Editing Test? By David H. Levin

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Opinions on editing tests vary. Some would place editing in the class of professions that includes medicine, plumbing and haircutting, in which auditions simply aren’t done. Others might consider the acting profession to be a better analogy.

Philosophy aside, if you are a freelance editor, you can expect to encounter potential clients who ask that you take an editing test. Consenting carries two main risks:

1.) You might not get the job, in which case the time spent on the test may be fruitless.

2.) The potential client might surreptitiously give you actual copy to edit, intending to use your work without paying for it.

Here’s a scenario. You respond to an on-line ad calling for editors. The ad’s poster emails you an editing test consisting of several pages of text, accompanied only by vague instructions. You politely request clarification of the test’s purpose, as well as some background about the company. Their reply only partially addresses your concerns, while giving the impression that your request was an imposition.

Here’s another. You apply for a freelance editing job, which leads to an on-site interview. You spend most of this time speaking with members of the interview team. You also take a written test that involves editing a brief passage according to the company