For the next 14 weeks, I will be studying for the Editors Canada copy editing test on November 14. I haven’t actually signed up for the test. I hope that if I blog about studying, I will actually study and take the test. I learn by writing.
I figure I will have to study three hours a week: 3 x 14 = 42 hours. It doesn’t seem like much. But finding that three hours a week is going to be tough in the fall when my work at Queen’s University starts up.
Editors Canada certification tests for excellence, not just competence. Many editors fail. No one that I know of has blogged about studying for it, probably because they don’t want to fail in public. If I take the test and fail – note to self — I will try not to see it as public humiliation.
What is Editors Canada certification?
There are four certification tests: structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Each test is based on the relevant section of Professional Editorial Standards, a document revised in 2009 after years of discussion among senior editors. All the tests have two parts. The first part – Part A – is short answer and tests knowledge about “the fundamentals of editing.” Part B is a scenario and test passage that is worth about two-thirds of the total mark. Editors who pass all four tests earn the designation “Certified Professional Editor.” There are only 29 CPEs in Canada.
The four categories of standards are artificial, in that the levels of editing overlap in practice. For example, as a copy editor for McGill-Queen’s University Press, I do a combination of copy editing and stylistic editing. Editors Canada is the only professional association that distinguishes stylistic editing as a separate skill set. But if I veer into stylistic editing when writing the copy editing test, I will lose marks. The point is that the exams test the standards.
Copy editing is editing to ensure correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness.
— Editors Canada
Here is what I did in Week One
- read Professional Editorial Standards
- read the first chapter of Editorial Niches, which describes certification and how to study for it
- reviewed the handouts from the session on certification that I attended at the Editors Canada conference in June 2015. The presenter was Sherry Hinman, a Certified Professional Editor.
- assessed my strengths and weaknesses
I have over ten years of experience as a freelance editor and a solid grounding in grammar, punctuation, spelling, usage, documentation styles (Chicago and APA), editing on-screen, creating style sheets, and communicating with authors.
What I need to learn
I haven’t worked in-house, and so my knowledge of production is second-hand. I have a sketchy understanding of the legal dimensions of editing, such as copyright law. The test is hand-written, and so I have to learn manual copy-editing marks and increase my endurance for handwriting. Tests make me anxious. The test is partly about speed, which makes me even more anxious. Let’s not think about that.
How I will study
I’m studying on my own, with my blog as my community.
A few years ago I was in a study group for the copy editing test, and my two study partners, Adrienne Montgomery and Cat London, took the test and passed. I was too chicken to take the test. And to be honest, I never planned to take it. And so my studying wasn’t as serious as it should have been. Now that I’m studying on my own, I will have to own it.
I don’t have a schedule for the next 14 weeks. Sherry Hinman provided a sample seven-week schedule in a handout. That’s not enough time for me.
I know what I’m doing next week, and I trust that a schedule will dawn on me without much effort on my part.
Join in if you are studying too. And if you are not, I would still like to hear from you.