Why candidates fail NAATI translation and interpreting tests…

July 28, 2015 by

NAATI translation and interpreting tests…and how to make sure you pass.

Have you taken a NAATI test in translation or interpreting? Or are you thinking about it? Here’s what Dave Deck from NAATI recently had to say about why candidates fail the test, and what stands out about those who pass.

Dave gave a presentation on NAATI test marking at the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters’ annual conference, which was held in Wellington in June 2015. In this blog post, I’ll summarise his main points and look at how we can apply them.

What are the NAATI tests?

NAATI conducts tests for translators and interpreters in Australia and New Zealand. People who have passed the NAATI Professional interpreter or translator exam can apply for full membership of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) or the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT). And if you have passed the NAATI Paraprofessional exam, you can apply for AUSIT membership or NZSTI affiliate status.

Translation is usually only tested at the Professional level. Candidates currently complete the exam using pen and paper, but NAATI is looking into the option of using a keyboard in future. Interpreting tests are offered at Professional and Paraprofessional levels, and the tests are pre-recorded. The tests also include a section on ethics for translators and interpreters.

How are NAATI tests marked?

The results of each test are determined by two markers, and wide discrepancies are resolved by a third marker. The tests are marked based on acceptable responses, not ideal solutions or what the examiners would have done. There is a strong emphasis on accuracy, to ensure that the content and intent is faithfully conveyed. The quality of language is mainly viewed in terms of how well it contributes to accuracy.

Why do people fail the tests?

Dave Deck on passing NAATI translation and interpreting testsDave explained that there are some particularly common reasons for failing the tests. The overall pass rate is very low, at about 10-15%. This is mainly because an overwhelming number of candidates are completely unprepared for the exam. Some only take the test to try to gain points for migration to Australia. Many assume that some degree of bilingualism is all that is needed.

In the translation exam, lack of proficiency in L2 (the individual’s second language) is one of the main reasons for failure. Some candidates unwisely try to translate into their L2, which often results in their being unable to express complex ideas. When translating into their native language, another key reason for failing is misunderstanding the source text. Some people also have problems with technique, either translating over-literally or, less commonly, using unnecessary paraphrasing.

In the interpreting test, many candidates just don’t have sufficient memory retention and listening skills, and rely too heavily on notes. A lack of skills in ‘rapid transfer’ of meaning from one language to the other is also common. Insufficient proficiency in L2 often leads to miscomprehension (when working from L2 to L1) and difficulty expressing complex ideas (when working from L1 to L2). An insufficient breadth of vocabulary is another problem, especially in specialised medical and legal registers.

What should you do if you’re planning to take the NAATI test?

So, what can we take away from Dave’s presentation? Test preparation is obviously crucial, and as professionals, we shouldn’t be put off by the extremely low pass rates. If you’re planning to take the NAATI exam, start preparing early and get as much practice as you possibly can. Do plenty of the practice tests that are available from NAATI and take a NAATI preparation course if one is available. Make sure you have sufficiently high proficiency in your L2 and increase your exposure to a broad range of fields in both languages.

Whether or not you’re planning to take the NAATI tests, I hope you find Dave’s feedback helpful. For me, it was interesting to reflect on common reasons for translation and interpreting errors and how to avoid them.

About Dave Deck

Dave Deck is a translator and interpreter for Indonesian and Malay and is chairman of NAATI’s Indonesian/Malay and English examining panels. In 2005 and 2008, he was one of the co-authors of major revisions of NAATI’s Examiners’ Manual, and has since developed and run various examiner training workshops. He has also run workshops for translation and interpreting candidates at NAATI’s Melbourne office and is a member of AUSIT’s National Council.

Please note that I do not have a commercial relationship with any of the organisations mentioned above.

By Jayne Fox BSc MITI, German-English translator. For German-English medical translation – and translation of corporate communications.

Photo of Dave Deck by Sarah Wilson, photo of sky via Skitterphoto.

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About the author: Jayne Fox is a German-English translator specialising in corporate communications for sci-tech and health care. She works with German and Swiss organisations to help them communicate effectively with international audiences.

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  1. Maria Paz Diaz

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us Jayne.

  2. James

    I haven't taken the exam, but I know plenty of people who have.
    My wife (who speaks and writes English better than most working Australians) has failed the exam twice. Both times they couldn't return the paper within the 10 week deadline.
    One year they just decided to cancel all the testing in her language, because their exam regime was exposed to fraud (i.e. they had reached their quota of translators for that year, and are massaging the translation market).
    In short: NAATI is incredibly unprofessional. Unhelpful. Opaque.
    I am firmly of the opinion that this is a system designed to gouge people for money ($700 plus a pop).
    Want feedback on why you failed? Sure, give us $100 for a review (45 minutes, no notes to be taken).
    Even if somehow you passed, now you need to attend compulsory "professional development" events to maintain your qualification. (= Keep paying us money.)
    Meanwhile, when you get your documents translated by one of their NAATI accredited translators, it's still full of mistakes. I know, I've paid through the nose for immigration documents in the past.

    If you're good with a language, don't subscribe to this rubbish - find other more rewarding ways to use your skills. And don't waste you time with this parasite organisation.


    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for passing on your feedback, James. Sounds like you've had a terrible experience with this.

    • Gol

      I agree with you

    • Jenny

      James, my experience is EXACTLY like your wife's. I did the test in 2014. I argue, there is NO WAY I failed. I speak the language at home I teach the language in school. and I graduated with a Master in an Australian University. It is mind boggling! I also think they should be more transparent and not slogging people with such exorbitant fees.
      Like you, I also knew some NAATI accredited interpreter and the clients told me I am better than them!
      I asked NAATI what makes them the authoritative figure? while they maybe needed to ensure the interpretation is accurate, I believe there is more than meeting the eye.
      I do not bother to take NAATI test anymore too.

  3. NAATI

    Hi James

    I’m sorry to hear that your experiences with NAATI have not been as positive as you would have liked. We’re more than happy to discuss this in more detail with you if you email info@naati.com.au.

    I think it is important to note that:
    - NAATI was forced to make changes with the way we ran testing for particular languages because details of examinations were being published on the internet. NAATI does not have and never has had a quota for accreditations. If an individual meets the standard for accreditation it is awarded.
    - NAATI is a user pays system and the services we offer are done so on a fee for service basis. While the Australian government provides some funding to NAATI the New Zealand government does not. This is why some services are provided at a lower cost in Australia.
    - NAATI does not offer professional development – this is offered by professional associations like NZSTI, AUSIT and ASLIA, in Australia, and some private companies. The Revalidation system has been based on systems that exist in almost every profession to ensure the currency and appropriateness of the individual’s skills.
    - NAATI can and will investigate complaints about accredited practitioners who do not provide services ethically this includes issues of accuracy.

  4. megha

    Hello sir
    I want to know about natti exam.
    Please if possible than provide me information regarding natti.
    With regard


  5. Ismail


    I am planning to take NAATI Paraprofessional Interpreter Test soon. I speak English beside my mother tongue (Arabic). I have recently scored IELTS 7 in all bands. Any advices on the best way to prepare for the test in order to ensure passing it?

    Thank you very much.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Ismail, as I noted in the post, it's really important to do lots of the practice tests that are available from NAATI, and if possible take a NAATI preparation course. Good luck!

      • Ismail

        Hi Jayne,

        Thank you for your reply and information.

        I have ordered the sample test kit for the Paraprofessional Interpreter test (Arabic). I am also planning to attend one of NAATI preparatory workshops. Are there any other things that I should do in order to increase my chances of passing the test? Thank you very much.

        • Jayne Fox

          Hi Ismail - have a look at Dave's recommendations in the article: practise note-taking, and get lots of exposure to a broad range of fields in both languages. Good luck!

        • Ikhlas

          i don't recommend to take the exam unless you have to and you dont have any other choice . their prices are outrageous. their sample kit is made of one sample and cost 100$ they provide a booklet written in font 10 and again very limited and dosent worth the money paid for.
          they take 3 months before they return the results and ask for more money if you want to review the results. thier marking system is very strict unless you're a poet you cant pass this exam.
          this was my experience. i did not see much reviews when i took the exam and now i understand why

          • sandie

            Hi Ikhlas,

            I want to know if you applied for a review process and if it's worth to apply.


  6. Sadi Rahma

    Hi Jayne
    I done the two on line course for interpreter to take the Paraprofessional Interpreter test in the future (Arabic). Is that enough or I have to do Naati workshop?

    Many Thanks


    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Sadi, please get in touch with NAATI with your questions, thanks!

  7. Carlos Diaz

    PLEASE READ THIS, it is in your best interests if you find it similar to your case: I will speak about translators only, my own experience. I have been >>twice< The tests (at least from English into Spanish) have actually been >>designed to failed you< Markers are (in my case, 5 from the same country: Spain, as confirmed by NAATI Accreditation Manager, Debbie O’Keefe), which is an open door for bias and deep localism prejudices. For Spanish we have a full history on that, which was also discussed in Spanish International Symposiums for the last 3 decades for serious issues between old traditional “academics” from Spain against the majority of Latin-American countries, including USA.
    -> Some markers are too rough and quick with their markings and I also question their own knowledge. I also question the very same marking system, no matter if NAATI claims that these models “are based to the ones from other countries”.
    -> One very critical aspect (perhaps one the worst): the TIME-TESTING vs. word amount + ethical questions is too short. For your information, I had to present a medical certificate because I suffer from “dystonia” (“writer’s cramp”) syndrome in my hand which locks down after 5 minutes writing fast. So, I was allowed to use my laptop (previously cancelled all spell checkers, translation, Internet connectivity, etc.) and I flew writing!!!.... but still was not enough for self-checking. I cannot see who other people in hand-written test still could pass that test, because you simply RUN OUT OF TIME for corrections, no matter how “fast” you are in handwriting or typing!!!!! (Short-hand skills are not used, anyway).
    A good translation -at a professional level- requires TIME for proper self-review and correction, because there are always mistakes (even silly ones) and better syntax ways of conveying from the original language into a relaxed reading that can be carefully examined before submission. The “mechanics” of a good translation is not always black and white. Why?, because is an art, therefore it cannot be rushed (as it happens in interpreting, where you do not have that “time”. It is simply not possible for a good translation.
    -> Experienced translators cannot be rushed either. All brains work differently FOR LANGUAGES; like in driving skills, even self-taught people, or those with minor dyslexia could be brilliant in translating. However, the way this testing has been designed is a killer to all good people, those careful translators (without being a turtle, of course...)
    -> The Sample Manual Test they SELL for Spanish applicants is expensive and terribly made, even 2 of the 3 examples have basic syntax errors and the 3rd. one has an appalling amount of serious deficiencies and mistakes, and NAATI is selling it since YEARS ago. NAATI failed to respond to my claim, they didn’t tell me if they send that manual for re-testing and no refund was given. They play fool instead.
    -> NAATI “claims” they have a “testing review process” going on. Really?... I don’t thinkl so. If they do now, is because of my letters and Report coming up. They started this with AUSIT through the INT Report many years ago. So, far after the initial INT Report 2012 came up NOTHING in substantial improvements were made at all. Same crappy manuals and obsolete testing techniques are still in place. NAATI is costing me dearly, and I will not let go “just like that”... I value my skills and life experience; I say this without overestimating me, because there is always room for learning and improvements until you die. You can rest assured that this is not coming from someone “disgruntled” because his ego was hurt for failing 2 tests. I’ve failed many tests before and I have approved many more; therefore, I know that for a fact when you have formal qualifications as an IT technician with networks plus sound recording engineering on top of other trade-qualifications fully recognized in Australia. I am retiring now from physical work at my 60, but I have my dignity (not just ego) and I don’t tolerate BS answers, or bad jokes like these tests done to me. They are costing me valuable time and money and I need that accreditation for other work overseas as a source of income.
    -> I have no doubts that if many professional and perhaps Senior Professional translators do the same test -as I did in Spanish-, rest assured that they WILL FAIL too. Remember, many of them come from a “different time” and “different criteria”.... but obviously now, there is more competition and more money needed.
    -> One serious proposal from the INT Report (requested from NAATI to AUSIT) is that all applicants must pass previous complex trainings from universities or training venues. Obviously they are money hungry now, perhaps they are getting less grants or funding from the government (according to NAATI Annual Reports), and are desperate to get more from YOUR money, no matter what. Training is big business in Australia, but I seriously wonder HOW THIS TRAINING will guarantee to provide experienced good translators for the migrant community resident in Australia and everyone in need of them? I have seen with my own eyes terrible translations done by people with tertiary qualifications (specialized in a LOTE)!....
    -> NAATI refused me to provide statistical information (not in their Annual Reports) about:
    .....a) Number of people applied for testing. (I was not asking for individual’s names!...)
    .....b) How many of them >>actually passed< NAATI continues with the obsolete hand-written tests while charging A$587 each!!! (I doubt that any translator still uses that system today), which is a more time-consuming factor while forcing you to bring heavy dictionaries, etc. If you fail, more money they still ask for reviewing what you have done “wrong”; and they refuse to respond specifically what you ask, they play around with words, by repeating themselves. There is not “fair play” in this trade.
    Still, having said the above, I fully support that a professional accreditation entity must exists, otherwise in this profession would be chaos. HOWEVER, transparency and accountability should exist, at all levels within NAATI & AUSIT. But the community must open its mouth if they experienced similar nightmare.
    This actual system is costing your nerves, frustration, confusion, your potential profession, your skills, your life experience, your valuable time (NAATI takes forever) and lots of money (your money) wasted. If you are sure you are worthwhile on your skills, please use them, and write to everybody, not just NAATI, a private business. They will have to pay dearly for taking my money in this unfair way but I need your help, your responsibility factor too.

    Very soon, I will open a public Inquiry in Change.org. to later approach the media and politicians throughout all the migrant community outlets and social media. All the above plus much more must be thoroughly and expeditiously investigated. Please, be in touch. Thank you for your patience in reading this. I hope it can help you.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks very much for commenting with your feedback. You've raised some serious issues - I would be interested to hear the response from NAATI.

    • Robert Victor

      Please contact


      For support in your campaign to reform NAATI

    • Pauline

      Please launch a protest through change.org. My daughter has been simarly affected. We have been to our member of parliament, victoria to get a copy of her exam paper through freedom of information . Request denied, they say they are exempt. This organisation is a secretive closed shop,blatantly stealing money for no result.Contact Gary Blackwood MP Warragul, 56231960 and tell him your concerns too.

      • Marry

        Please also register your complain/ concern to NSW fair trading.

        It will be helpful for others if as many as people will register their complaint.

      • Hongkies Three (3) Passports


        The governments(/opposition) WILL STAND by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators & Interpreters (N.A.A.T.I.) simply because NAATI is OWNED by them.

        By the way, what language (directions) did your girl do? Was it interpreting or translation?

      • Jenny

        Pauline, I did that. MP cannot help. ( not Gary but the MP in my area too) I was very angry because there is NO WAY I failed the test. we speak the language at home. I teach it at school. I also hold a Masters degree from an Australian University. It is a very secretive organisation. and yes, I also felt they fleeced me.

  8. Carlos Diaz

    Thank you Jayne. Unfortunately the word format was horribly changed from my tablet into this, there are words missing and some turn around things. I apologise about this. Perhaps compatibility issues I guess... anyway, most of the 'key' issues have been explained above about my findings so far. More will be coming up soon. NAATI is trying hard to discredit and to silence me because they know that the cat is out of the bag... so be it. 🙂

  9. SBV

    Wow! what a lot of negative comments! Failing a test is undoubtedly terrible hands down and I can understand the frustration of the people who didn't pass the test.

    I sat the Paraprofessional interpreter test last year and I passed in my first attempt. As far as I can tell, the test was conducted in a very professional and cordial manner. When I decided to take the test, I was already confident that my language ability (both ways) was spot on but I didn't let that make me complacent in any way. It was a new field for me and I had to familiarize myself with the requirements of the test to get through it without any hassle. So, I went through the NAATI test kit first and did a lot of research on my own on the web beforehand to equip myself with enough knowledge about cultural issues and, especially, to learn how to analyze and respond to ethical scenarios. I read and collected articles written by interpreters from different countries, read codes of ethics used in other countries and studied how they interpreted those codes in specific instances. At the end, I had an inch thick collection of material in a folder that I collected from the web. I went through them over and over again until I made sure that I was thorough enough on all the four components of the test before I actually took the test. Finally, I was confident that I could handle any type of question that they may ask in the test and after the test was over, I felt that I did alright, and it did prove that my gut feeling was correct.

    Hope my two cents would help any future test takers.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for explaining how you approached the test - sounds like an excellent method!

    • Zeeshan

      Hi SVB,
      No wonder you did a great effort and got the result in the end.
      Just curious how you did all the research and where exactly were you able to find this stuff?
      "my own on the web beforehand to equip myself with enough knowledge about cultural issues and, especially, to learn how to analyze and respond to ethical scenarios. I read and collected articles written by interpreters from different countries, read codes of ethics used in other countries and studied how they interpreted those codes in specific instances. At the end, I had an inch thick collection of material in a folder that I collected from the web"
      I'm planning to take the Interpreter test very time soon.
      I'd be grateful if you could help me with this
      Thank you

      • SBV

        Hi Zeeshan,

        Awfully sorry for this delayed reply. I didn't visit this site for sometime so I didn't see your post. Answering your query, yes, I did a lot of research on the web before the test but I can't remember which sites I visited to collect the material as it was many in number. If you do a google search yourself, I am sure there would be no problem finding articles written on interpretation and codes of ethics. Hope this helps.


  10. Robert Victor

    My wife who has a PhD from a Sydney university written in English is a published author in Spanish with more than 20 years experience of lecturing, editing and research in Spanish speaking universities.

    NAATI failed her on professional written translation of English to Spanish.

    There is something very wrong with NAATI and their predatory monopoly.


    • silvia goldwasser

      I did the test more than 25 years ago after working extensively as a court interpreter in the Supreme Court, extensivie medico-legal work and also translation in technical areas including medicine, pharmaceuticals and engineering. I failed the test and have never resat it. I subsequently got tested and passed the first time with the American Translators Association while I was in the US. NAATI is an organisation that is not ethical- the tests are poorly run and there is very little feedback (and it's hardly timely) It is a niche organisation that in essence answers to no one. The fees are outrageous and everything is a money-making exercise. I now have 3 university degrees and have been working as a translator and interpreter for over 30 years...if NAATI accreditation is an issue, I simply walk away.

  11. Desyd

    Well let me tell you my experience. I took the naati paraprofessional interpreter test last year. As expected it was a very slow process. Unfortunately after 3 months I got the result sheet and I scored 65.5 (70 required to pass). So i was devastated at first but then decided to apply for the review. This time i was relieved to see that my score had been upgraded to a PASS (71). Now let me share how i prepared for the test:
    1. I ordered the test kit and started to practice beforehand.
    2. I collected all the information on cultural and ethical question and started reading every day.
    3. I did the dialogue practice tests of the preparation kit multiple times by recording it in my phone. I kept on repeating it until I was finally happy with myself.

    P.S. in my opinion even though its awfully slow process, the test is very fair and you'll get what you are worth of.

    • Kiran

      Hi desyd, I dunno if you're still checking this forum I've just got my naati results after taking it a second time and my results are as follows:
      Passage a:28/45
      Passage b:30.5/45

      My first results were similar and on hindsight I should have gone through a review. While I'm upset about the results, I've gotten national and international awards in my lote and English is my De facto first language, I'm quite upset about ethics as I've taken the online ethics course and gotten above average results for that and have been following the format provided during the course so I don't understand that mark.

      My question to you is if I should go for a review of test results or review of assessment. Which one did you go for and if it was a review of the assessment did you find the feedback given useful. Looking forward to your reply and the views of others in this forum:)

      • tina

        Hi Kiran,

        I just wanted to share my experience.
        I took the para professional Interpreter test early this year.
        My scores were:
        Dialogue 1: 28/45
        Dialogue 2: 31/45
        I applied for review and the result was the as it is.
        So,If you want to take chance and throw away your $148, its up to you.
        It does' nt matter how good you are and how many workshops you have attended, still they will not pass you.
        They just want you to keep paying them money.

  12. Shami


    I was not expecting that my post will be completely removed within 10 days.
    I thought Jayne Fox will write a comment as she usually does with other people on this blog.
    But I think this is enough to prove that Naatti's results for Accredition testing are not fair.

    Only those posts will be displayed on this blog which are in favour of Naatti while rests will be removed shortly. So if anyone has concerns about Accredition testing results it's better to write to Fair Trading and other related educational organizations.

    Desyd, a quick question for you!
    As you have mentioned in your post that you took the test last year, so you must have paid $1100 for the test.
    After 3 months you got your result. This result was assessed by 2 Assessors/ Examiners and they gave you 65.5.
    Again you paid for the review which is $148 and you got your desired extra 5.5 which made you clear your test.

    So, the third examiner is more competent and fair than the previous two examiners.

    If you deserved those 5.5 why they didn't give you in the beginning, why after taking$148.
    And if someone think logically it's not about 1 or 2 points. It's a difference of 5.5 points.
    So, I will agree with Carlos that this system of Naatti Pvt Ltd is no doubt costing valuable time and money.
    Either, the Examiners are not competent who just fail the candidate for few points or now its just money making business as this test gives 5 points for Immigration.

    All the other language tests like IELTS, TOEFL,OET,PTE that are required for Immigration purpose will give you access to book online, view the exam dates and everything is very clear and systematic from the time you book your exam.
    Moreover, all these exams cost between $300-$600 and the fees is also not increased every year after 1 July.

    But, in case of Naatti, No Online Booking System !
    You will get the exam date after 2-3 months
    Although local office staff will take your test. It's not that they have to arrange a native examiner from that language to take the test.
    So, Everything is in their control and hidden from the beginning.

    Once, you book the exam, the preparation material they provide you is published years ago and not updated. There are mistakes but nobody bothered to correct it.

    If you decide to pay for workshops that is also in English not in your native language.
    It's clearly mentioned on Naatti website that these workshops and courses does not guarantee you to pass the test.
    Why there is need to write all this? May be the course and workshops are not of that standard!
    Even on the websites if you try to find preparation material for the test its really hard to find .
    But even after putting your all time, effort and money you mange to sit for the test then they will fail you for 2-3 points.
    If eligible for review and the review is made then the same result as it is in the envelope suggesting to take further study.
    So, it's all about money!

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Shami, I didn't remove your comment. Was it approved previously? If not, it's possible that it was caught in a spam filter. I'm glad this one got through, anyway.

  13. asmara

    I want to sit for naati paraprofessional interpretors for English /urdu....what materials do i possibly need to score higher?...and arent there any free samples available?

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Asmara, I don't have any info about Urdu. Please have a look at the NAATI website to see what materials they have available.

    • Aamir

      hi Asmara,

      did you find any material for urdu language?

  14. Angela

    Hi Jayne,

    Thank you for this post, and although I do not wish to use this space to vent about my failed NAATI exam, I found the whole testing process extremely disappointing.

    I am Polish and graduated in Australia with a TER of 95, including a Yr 12 level in Polish. However, I received 11% for my NAATI exam! I was beyond upset and not to mention embarrassed in front of my family and friends. As you know, the reviewers comments are very limiting and I could not afford to pay the extra $300 to receive detailed reviewers comments. For a fail of 11% who would bother.

    I wish that NAATI or Dave Deck, had a lot more insight in how to pass the test. The levels of expectation are a bit of a mystery, the sample kits need more information for the $100 we pay, and contain more examples WITH answers. I waited three months to find out that I failed my test. In hindsight I should have saved my $1k and spent it elsewhere, wisely.

    I hope that NAATI will start taking some of the above comments on board. If it is this difficult to pass, then please give us something to work with and encourage us to try again.

    Thank you,


    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Angela. That must have been so frustrating for you.

    • Marry

      I would like to request all those who are not satisfied with the Naati testing
      system,please leave a detailed Google review about your experience as it would help others if they decide to sit for the test. Thanks.

  15. Ridhi Sharma

    Can anyone guide me which one is easy to give.. hindi to english or vice-versa. After reading your comments, i am really hopeless today to pass this test. what you recon more. How to prepare oneself to pass this test.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Ridhi, if you're taking the NAATI translation test it should be from your second (or other) language into your first language. Contact NAATI for materials to help prepare for the test.

  16. Dale

    Dear Jayne,
    Thank you for writing this very useful and informative blog post. Also thank you to all of you who posted comments. This article and its comments have been a real eye-opener for me about the NAATI testing and accreditation process. It is apparent that, at the very least, NAATI have a lot of questions to answer.
    I also want to congratulate you, Jayne, on the incredibly polite and respectful way that you have responded to all the people posting comments.

    • Jayne Fox

      Thanks for your comment and feedback, Dale! There are certainly some controversial issues around NAATI testing. It will be interesting to see how things change with the advent of computer-based testing.

  17. Rana Awwad

    I am planning to take NAATI professional interpreter test. I haven't found much about the cultural questions. Can you please help.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Rana, I don't have any more info about that, sorry. I suggest you keep Googling!

  18. KP

    Hello, I plan to take the NAATI by end of the year. For professional translator exam, can we do from First Language (Tagalog-Philippine) to Second Language (English)? I didn't read any note on the NAATI booklet that the only possible way is from L2 to L1. Thanks!

    • Jayne Fox

      As far as I know, you can do the exam in either direction, it's just that, as it's very difficult, you're much less likely to pass when doing it from L1 to L2.

  19. Katie M

    Hi Jayne,

    You said that according to Dave Deck only 10-15% of people pass the accreditation testing. On which occasion and where did he provide these figures?

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Katie, Dave said this in his presentation on NAATI test marking at the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters’ 2015 annual conference, which was held in Wellington, New Zealand in June 2015.

  20. Marry

    Hi Jayne,

    Its been mentioned that Dave Deck has been the chairman of Naati's Malay/ Indonesian and English examining panels.

    I want to know apart from his experience as an Interpreter and Translator, what qualifications/ degrees he has in Linguistics to become the Examiner. Thanks.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Marry, you could get in touch with NAATI and ask them about that.

  21. Ana

    Hi Jayne,
    Surprisingly there are many negative comments about NAATI and people urging to boycott them. However to work as a professional translator in Australia unfortunately they seem to be the only institution offering an accreditation that is accepted by the Australian government.
    Are there any other institution that offers professional translator accreditation accepted by immigration services from the Australian government that I am not aware of?

    I am contemplating in taking the test as I would like a career change in my life. However before starting the process I want to make sure this is the only way to work professionally with immigration services and corporate communications.

    Thank you so much for your help.

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Ana, sorry for the super-slow reply. No, NAATI is the only institution offering accreditation accepted by Australian government institutions. However, other companies and organisations aren't necessarily interested in whether you have the NAATI qualification, so it's not essential if you're not working for the Australian government. Good luck with your career change!

  22. Hassan

    Hi Jayne,
    I am interested to take NAATI test. I am living in CANADA and my first language( mother tongue ) is FARSI . I couldn't find nearest location to me and the date of exams. I will be appreciate to help me to get some information about it.
    Best Regard
    Hassan Sharifi

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Hassan, please email NAATI about this. They'll be able to tell you what options you have to prepare for the test.

  23. Carlos Diaz

    I apologise for not commenting further about my post above, and other people's comments afterwards. I have been extremely busy for the last few months, moving house, being on the States, other legal issues to attend, retirement, etc.

    Most definitely I will get back FULL ON with my inquiries to NAATI's unfair testing processes and rising very serious queries to their lack of transparency. There is no FOI applicable and not even the Ombudsman has jurisdiction into complaints on this organisation; also involving people in charge of NAATI, AUSIT, the famous (or infamous INT Proyect & Report which seems to be the wholly grail on fairness), bureaucrats in these organisations scratching each other's back, etc.

    I have been ripped off TWICE on my tests, plus money not refunded from junk "sample tests" which were very shonky; even made by people who I don't know how they got their qualifications. Also, to investigate in depth why some >>specific languages<>truly<< considering the tremendous importance of work experience, multi-cultural background, self-taught education, and the fact that all brains works differently, even on exams. The fact that having 'some' markings, qualifications, or degrees, does not necessarily guarantees a good translator; not even by passing a NAATI test nowadays.

    It is time for questioning some "authority" images as unique regulatory entity, myths and to look for radical changes... from OUR perspective too, not just from some bureaucrats sitting on desks and earning money already with plenty time and power to do whatever they decide, in order to control the translation marketplace from Australia. I am not questioning the need of having professional recognition, absolutely not; I am questioning the transparency factor being hidden by some examiners, supported by people in charge within NAATI and not questioned by AUSIT. So, I question the actual role of those 2 organisations now.
    Perhaps other could join us about interpreting too... why not?!
    Please, keep in touch. Thank you.

  24. Carlos Diaz

    More extensive comments with further reports I made them on this website too:


  25. Emre

    I am a professional interpreter, with 10 Years of Experience, worked for the UN- NYC, WHO, US-NSA and other agencies, I am qualified more than the examiners.
    when i took the test i failed it badly the first time, when i failed an objection letter, I passed with a very respective point, this program is a scam, it's main intention is to drain the applicants pocket.

    • Pete

      Hi Emre,
      How did you send the objection letter?
      Did they even read your inquiry? I have a similar complaint that i would like to raise?
      Can i report this organization maybe to ACCC?

      I really don't know what we can do about these greedy people.. this is unacceptable.

  26. Emre

    I Have been a professional interpreter for more than 9 years ,with an ILETS Score of 8.5, and PTE-A of 88, but when i took the NAATI exams (Professional and paraprofessional ) i failed both of them badly, I CAN ASSURE you, THE NAATI SYSTEM IS A SCAM, THESE PEOPLE ARE GOLD DIGGERS.


  27. Roohi

    I will tell you the most interesting and the most recent fact. I did a diploma in interpreting and had 24 students in my class, out of which 13 passed and 12 failed.
    The students who couldn't even interpret one dialogue in class properly passed the test.
    The ones who were really good at notes taking and memory retention and interpreting failed.
    I'm still in shock.

    • Lalit Bansal

      Hi Roohi, you told that you have 24 students in your class. How come 13 passed and 12 failed? There must be 25 students in your class then.
      Anyways, where you take classes for interpreting? I am planning to sit for a interpreting professional test. I think you can help me. Please contact me on my personal email id - lbansal.1986@gmail.com.
      Lalit Bansal

  28. barzinji

    how i can do this test in middle east , i am from north Iraq . is their any nearby center to here , and how i can get some samples of this test.

    • Jayne Fox

      Please contact NAATI to find out where you can do the test. Good luck!

  29. Pooja Raval

    Hi... thanks all of you to inform here everything (almost everything)... so i can decide about going for the same.. however i have so many questions in my mind for taking this exam and seriously i want to be a translator. I do not know how. Is there any tests taken in india? I have heard twice. So when? What are the fees? Is there any tests for the french to english? And how many languages i can take at a time? I have so many questions.. can anybody help me with mail response??

    • Jayne Fox

      Hi Pooja, please get in touch with NAATI directly - they should be able to answer your questions.

  30. Erind

    I have to thank you guys for all the comments in this website. I was considering taking the NAATI Professional Translator in Albanian or Italian (both mother languages) to get the 5 points in Credential Community Language (CCL) for immigration purpose. I thought would be an easy test considering that I translated different documents in both languages from NAATI Accredited Translator with a very disappointing outcome of the documents, a lot of spelling mistakes and different words wrongly translated that could lead in changing the whole meaning of the documents. I had confidence that I could pass the test because if those people that actually are accredited by NAATI passed the test having less knowledge than me, I thought should be easy!
    Thank you for saving me more then 700$
    I will not take the test after reading the comments where there are experienced and professional journalist that failed, when my chances in passing are 0.

  31. Salwa Dastgeer

    Thanks everyone for these eye-opening comments. I also have my doubts about NAATI, although, I haven't sat for the test yet. I know some very competent people from my language and background who have had the same terrible experiences. They are now forming an alliance against NAATI and are preparing, with the assistance of a very good lawyer, to take NAATI to the court and seek justice.

    I am soon going to sit for the test and I have been preparing for it for the last one year, despite, having university degrees in both languages which is indicative of my academic writing skills and have been working as a local interpreter for a local NGO for ages. If I experience the same level of unfair and corrupt treatment, I am definitely going to fight for justice.

  32. Bill

    Hi thanks for the comments, I was going to do the paraprofessional interpreter test to get extra 5 points even when I theorically dont need them. I was suprised by the cost of the test and the lack of information online about it. Someone should do an easy to find page warning about the Naati scam.



  34. ppham

    For those who are interested in doing NAATI Approved Course Vietnamese at NSW, please visit the website http://www.siit.nsw.edu.au/?page_id=103 for more information

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German-to-English translator specialising in medical and technical translation and corporate communications
Welcome to my blog, Between Translations! I'm Jayne Fox, German-English translator specialising in sci-tech, health care & corporate communications.
I work with clients from around the world. From my location in New Zealand, I translate overnight for European customers.
See my websites for more information.
Sci-tech translation and corporate comms: www.foxdocs.biz
Medical translation: www.jfmedicaltranslation.com
Email: jayne(at)foxdocs.biz