EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Reflecting on EPSO exams


My name is Eva Kertesz. I have already sat the EPSO translation exam three times without success. I am a teacher of English and French from Romania. My mother tongue is Hungarian.
Due to the numerical and verbal reasoning test, I cannot go any further as I always miss some points. I have already bought the big book, taken private lessons in maths (for which I paid £25/hour) and solved all the problems in EPSO’s big book.

I am not a mathematician and I have never liked maths or other science subjects. As a result of these tests, I cannot become a translator at the EU. When I sat my entrance exam at university, we had exams in English and French language and literature, not maths.
I want to know why I am (and others like me) disadvantaged with this exam. For a language exam. why aren’t there proper grammar, lexical, translation and composition exercises? As a translator, I won’t use maths and I won’t work with figures, so why this kind of exam?

I have already asked EPSO this question, but have never received a valid answer: just blah-blah. Moreover, when I arrived in Belgium I was discriminated against over my age (39) when I first subscribed to EPSO for translation exams. I was told that they only employed people up to the age of 35.

Eva Kertesz



Author :


  1. As a translator can become a lifetime official in the institutions and move on to another field of work, it is perfectly reasonable to expect from applicants a wider range of skills. It’s a simple as that.

  2. That’s strange…I took the exam for Irish translators in September 2006 and there was no numerical reasoning and I have a friend who has taken some for Italian translators and she didn’t have to do numerical reasoning either. That was one of the attractions.

    I have a mental block when it comes to numbers, a problem I’ve had since my school days, yet I have managed to successfully fulfil a variety of roles in my career without ever having to pass a numerical reasoning test. Why should the EPSO tests discriminate against us who are mathematically challenged? I don’t ever intend on doing a job that requires me to be good with numbers outside the institutions or inside if I ever pass an EPSO test!!!

  3. Numerical questions are supposed to test your sense of logic, not just math skills. I am a translator too, and yes, math has always given me hell… Nothing you could do, at least until they decide to change the tests…

  4. Now there are numerical questions in epso tests so what? 10 questions in 20 minutes, I couldnot even read them, when I was reading sixth question, time was ended. I established courses if you want to test your epso readiness but I think only Einstein could pass this exam.

  5. Apart from the sites already mentioned, i think good resources for preparing EPSO preselection tests are for which you have to pay and which is free. Have a look!

  6. Well, they “improved” the recruitment, they replaced EU questions with abstract reasoning. It’s obvious what skills they look for, I don’t argue it. Personally, I managed to pass the CBT for translators, I actually hope I will get on a reserve list. What I want to say… My mom was also a translator, a very good one, who won lots of prizes for her translations. However, she could never pass a CBT given that she was never good with numbers. So I don’t think the CBT is appropriate to test a translator.

Comments are closed.