How Do I Prepare for a Technical Writing Test?

Daniel Liden

Before starting some jobs or receiving certification in some languages, a writer must pass a technical writing test that demonstrates proficiency in writing about certain subjects or in technical writing in general. Sometimes, the topic of the technical writing test is known in advance, so preparation should be based on studying the subject and its associated vocabulary. In other cases, the subject is not known and the emphasis is on precise, grammatically-correct writing instead of on the subject matter itself. This is common in examinations administered to test language proficiency, so reviewing and practicing grammar and vocabulary is very important for such tests. Many technical writing tests require the writer to read a text and use some of the information contained, so practice reading technically complicated texts is also helpful.

A technical writing test often requires a writer to read technical papers, and then write an essay answering a related question.
A technical writing test often requires a writer to read technical papers, and then write an essay answering a related question.

A technical writing test administered while applying for a job within a certain field may require the writer to write about a specific topic, often given in advance. One can prepare for such a technical writing test by studying and mastering the vocabulary and style used in that particular field. Studying the relevant vocabulary is particularly important, as misuse of an important term will likely indicate a lack of proficiency and understanding of the relevant topics. Reading papers related to the subject in question is an excellent way to learn the style and vocabulary used in technical writing within the relevant field.

In many cases, a technical writing test is administered in order to test writing ability in general rather than competence within a given field. Such tests often require the writer to read one or more technical papers and to write an essay answering a related question. Closely reading technical papers in a few different fields is an excellent way to prepare for this form of technical writing test. Brushing up on grammar and studying common language mistakes is another great way to prepare for such tests, especially for those without a great deal of writing experience.

Some language learners are required to take a technical writing test in order to receive formal language certification or to be able to work certain jobs. The goal of this type of technical writing test is to evaluate one's ability to use a foreign language at a nuanced and technical level. Reading technical papers in the language to be tested is extremely important. Many colleges and language schools offer language courses specifically for business and technical writing. Such courses can be very helpful, as technical writing often differs substantially from day-to-day informal writing.

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