Mind Over Matter

One of my main goals for 2024 was to finally join the CIEP and reach Professional level membership, at which point you get listed on the ‘approved editors’ directory, and may or may not get lots of great editing work…


So far, it’s been going pretty well overall.


To move from Entry level to Intermediate level, I had to complete two of the entry-level training courses (I did Proofreading Level 1 and Copy Editing Level 1) and provide a record of 100+ hours of paid copy editing or proofreading work, which wasn’t that hard after nearly three years of freelancing.


I completed all the requirements and submitted my application to upgrade in early March, and received confirmation of its approval a couple of weeks ago. This then enabled me to list myself on the IM Available list (InterMediate/I’m – see what they did there?), which other members can use to find editors for their own writing. No bites so far – but then it’s only been a week…


The upgrade to Professional level, however, is a whole different beast…


This is because, rightly or wrongly, the CIEP have a strong focus on publishers being the only clients who are experienced enough to judge what makes for good editing. And that means, only publisher clients count towards the 500+ hours of copy editing and proofreading work you need to provide records of to upgrade to Professional level.


That is, unless you take the Editorial Test, to show your skills in a more concrete manner. Passing the Editorial Test makes any and all clients eligible for the work record, so it would be the only way for me to progress, as I have very few publisher clients to my name so far.


The test is shrouded in mystery and has a reputation for being incredibly difficult. Added to that, there are only two versions – so, if you fail it twice, you don’t have the opportunity to take it again. Members who have attempted either version of the test are warned that they are strictly forbidden from revealing any of its contents to other members. And you only have an hour to complete it…


This puts a huge amount of pressure on taking the test – or, at least, it did for me. It felt as if the whole future of my editing career was riding on this one hour of intense mental activity – even though that’s clearly not the case.


I might not even have attempted it, had my mentor not encouraged me to do so. He’s reached the heady heights of Advanced Professional Membership within the CIEP, so he knows of what he speaks. He very sensibly pointed out that I wouldn’t know if I could pass until I tried – and a failure on the first attempt would show me how close I got and also the kinds of things I would need to revise for the second try.


So, I printed out the syllabus and the list of BSI symbols, bought a copy of Hart’s New Rules to keep by my side, read through all the Codes of Conduct, and picked over the syllabus with a fine-toothed comb, revising all the topics listed and making notes on what I learned.


When I felt ready, I set aside a decent amount of time when I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed, and clicked on the link to start the test…


And it was hard. The countdown ticking down at the top of the screen didn’t help – but at least it also told me what question I was on and how many there were left to go. I have to admit I didn’t understand all of the questions, and quite a few of them took a lot of consideration. But, at the end of the day, it was a multiple choice test, so there were only limited options for picking the answers.


I finished in just over 45 minutes, but thought I’d likely only got about 40% right, with the pass mark being 75%.


And then I clicked to get my results – and I’d passed with 75%! Nobody was more surprised than me… Needless to say, I’m delighted that I never have to do that again!


So, the lesson for today is – the only way to guarantee failure is not to try – and you never know what you might achieve unless you give things ago.


Next, I have to put together a record of 500+ hours of paid work (tedious but very doable, since I have spreadsheet already that contains all the relevant information), complete at least one more training course (which I’ve already signed up for) and get a publisher client to agree to give the CIEP a reference. For the five ‘additional’ points required, I can either complete a fourth training course or provide a second reference. And which of those I choose is going to depend on a) whether the two or three clients I’m planning to approach will agree to act as a reference and b) whether the CIEP actually deems any of them eligible. If I can get two references, then great! If not, I have the backup of doing another training course.


So, it might take me a little while to fulfil the remaining requirements, but the biggest hurdle is out of the way, and the rest of it is just a case of applying the right amount of time and effort in the right places.


And then I’ll finally discover if being in the CIEP’s directory is worth all the trouble!


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