8 most common mistakes in NAATI CCL test preparation you need to avoid
With more than 1 year experience of teaching CCL, I have compiled a list of 8 most common mistakes made by students in the CCL test. I hope being aware of this beforehand helps avoid the mistakes that others did in the CCL exam.
1. Forgetting to ask for repetitions and rephrasing or corrections
In the CCL examination the segments can be replayed upon your request. One repetition per dialogue does not attract any penalty; however, each additional request means you lose 1 point out of 45 for that dialogue. Rephrasing and correction also do not cost any marks as long as used appropriately.
However, because of the intensity of the exam, which lasts for only 15-20 minutes, candidates might forget to ask for that ‘1 free repetition’ per dialogue, which may result in poor interpretation and hence less marks. Getting the opportunity to hear a segment twice can be a game changer. So, it’s vital that you don’t forget this by writing a small reminder on the note-taking paper before the exam starts.
2. Long pauses
NAATI suggests that we should not interpret immediately after hearing the chime at the end of each segment. However, no information on how long the pause can be has been provided. Just because there isn’t any information regarding this time frame doesn’t mean that you can pause for as long as you want.
I suggest keeping those pauses to less than 5 seconds and you should be fine.
3. Asking for too many repetitions and rephrasing/corrections
There is a common misunderstanding that since there is, unlike repetitions, no negative marking for rephrasing/corrections, one can do these as many times. But the fact is that NAATI considers excessive self-corrections as one of the contributing factors to fail a candidate.
So, be careful and keep these to minimum unless really required. I suggest less than 3 corrections per dialogue, in general.
4. Too much focus on note-taking
Each segment has up to 35 words, and it’s not possible to just memorize it all, especially when it contains numbers, names and technical words. Therefore, note-taking is required and it’s vital for success. However, it’s not possible to completely write down the whole segment as it is. If you do so, you won’t be able to grasp the summary or the gist of the segment and interpreting becomes
Without understanding the gist and the basic storyline, you can only interpert short segments (10-15 words). For longer segments, it’s crucial that you focus more on conceptualization and only note down the key words and later reconstruct the sentence while interpreting.
5. Poor handwriting
We’ve already discussed the indispensable role note-taking plays in the CCL interpretation examination. Now if you do have plenty of notes but you’re unable to read your own handwriting later, then what use would it be. This actually makes you lose your oral fluency, as you’ll have to pause to be able understand what you wrote.
So, write less but neatly, and well-spaced.
6. Getting stuck on a word because of lack of vocabulary knowledge
This is one of the most common errors done by beginners, especially those who are preparing without any guidance
If a test-taker is unable to think of the exact translation of the word in English or their native language while interpreting, then there is a tendency of getting stuck on that word and not moving ahead, even though you have noted down rest of the information. This not only disrupts your oral fluency but also makes you forget rest of the information, and end of the day you lose a lot of marks.
Think about it! You only need 63 out of 90 total and 29/45 in each dialogue to pass. So, it’s OK to make mistakes. In this case, just English to English or LOTE- LOTE (for example: Nepali-Nepali). It’s much better to do this rather than getting stuck on a word. Not interpreting few words won’t make you fail the exam straight away. You’ll get at least the pass marks 63 as long as there is not distortion in meaning and the overall performance is acceptable.
7. Accidental interpretation from English to English and LOTE to LOTE
I’ve taught many CCL students and conducted many mock tests online. During this course I’ve witnessed few students interpreting Nepali to Nepali instead of Nepali to English.
Now the reason why this happens is that people find it convenient to take notes in English even for Nepali segments. If you see that your notes are in English, you might accidentally start interpreting back to Nepali while the source segment was in fact in Nepali itself. The testing officer will not give you any warning of this blunder.
But fear not. There is a simple solution to this. Simply write ‘2E’ or ‘2N’ to before noting down each segment to indicate whether you should interpret to English (2E) or to Nepali (2N).
8. Not practicing enough dialogues
There are many CCL institutes which offer only 10-15 dialogues to students. And most of them only offer dialogues to be practise in the class. No dialogues are given to students to practise at home. This means that you have to attend the institute for a longer time period and pay around $1000.
We, on the other hand, give more power to you. With online access to around 50+ dialogues with answers, you can practise dialogues anywhere you are using your PC or smart phone. This feature is available in our Gold Kit.
The more you practise, the better the chances of your passing the exam.
Trilochan Raj Puri
Trilochan is the founder of nepalinaati, the no. 1 CCL online learning platform for Nepali students. He holds the Diploma in Interpreting certificate from NAATI and the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults from Cambridge University. He has more than 2 years combined experience in teaching PTE-A, ELICOS and CCL.