What Is an Edit Test?
Many editorial jobs -- especially at magazines and newspapers -- call for applicants to take edit tests, or editorial tests. Edit tests are usually take home exams that employers give to applicants after an in-person or phone interview. How applicants perform on those edit tests often determine whether they land the job.
What’s On an Edit Test?
Edit tests are predominantly writing tests, with a twist. Although every edit test is different, tailored to the publication it's from, the tests are designed to see how applicants write, rework other peoples’ copy and, finally, generate fresh ideas. Most edit tests will ask you to edit a story that’s already written, and to submit sample story ideas for the magazine.
As with the interview, the best way to tackle an edit test is to know the magazine inside and out. The place you can really shine, assuming your editing is solid, is with your story ideas. If you come up with great ideas for the magazine -- ideas that show originality and showcase the fact that you understand the publication’s tone and focus -- you’ll stand out.
The First Try Is Often the Hardest
The first edit test you take can seem difficult and demanding. Don’t freak out. As with anything else in life, it can be jarring to do something totally new and foreign. Once you’ve seen the kinds of writing tasks an edit test demand, you’ll become more familiar and prepared for them. That said, it’s best to really study the publication you’re interviewing at before you get that edit test. Read back issues. Look at what kinds of stories run in certain sections. This will be one of the best ways you can prepare for an edit test.
More on Edit Tests
This article from Folio, the trade about the magazine industry, also delineates what’s on an edit test and why they matter to employers.