You might already know that in order to become a transcriptionist you’d pass a test to assess your skills. As a non-native English speaker what I’ve learned from my transcriptionist tests shows below.

Even when you are a native speaker the punctuation rules may be tricky or you might take the hearing of one word for another if not verified thoroughly.

Here are some points that a good transcriptionist would follow and dramatically improve the transcription quality. Then the transcript accuracy percentage results could be in the high 90s.

1. Correct punctuation

Use Grammarly or other tools with full features to correct punctuation and spelling. Punctuation is paramount to deliver a high-quality transcript, and it’s one of the main reasons for being demerited big points in the transcriptionist test evaluation.

2. Quotes usage

Great attention to quotes as to how you use them can so different from your maternal language. In some text, there could be quotes in your maternal language while in English there are not. If there is a period right after the word or sentence in quotes, ensure that the period comes first and then the quote.  

3. Space between the sentences or phrases

After we put the period in the end and start a new sentence or phrase ensure that there is only one space in between. If you correct in the end, you may lose the space. It’s worth it to do an extra check from beginning to the end to know you’re inserting the space right. A punctuation tool, such as Grammarly would assist you.

4. Verify your transcript

Check your transcript more than twice. If necessary go over and over again even 7-8 times over the same text throughout all documents.

5. Understanding of each word

Understand, if possible, every word and do not put [inaudible]. It means that as much as possible avoid the [inaudible] and use the guess tag instead if you really could not catch the word. I would recommend listening many times on and on to get a sense of what it might be in the context. The word might be old, the speaker and the specific speech might be from decades ago and some words may be pronounced differently from current times.


6. Assistance from a punctuation and spell-checker, a transcriptionist’s tool

Keep logged always on in Grammarly while you’re writing. The words will come out correctly, automatically, and it saves you time.

7. Similar pronunciation of different words

Pay attention at “was” and “has” followed by the past participle, the third form of the verb. Context helps you tremendously to employ the right word.

8. Contraction

The speakers may say the words contracted, or not contracted. Listen as many times as necessary to get the right way: is it contraction or not?

9. The “ing” form of a verb

Increase your attention if the speaker adds “ing” at the end of the verb. Sometimes the transcriptionist goes so fast that they ignore, when in fact it might be. They put it because while talking it may sound better, when in fact the speaker has not used it in the text.


10. How do the preposition sound

In specific cases, the prepositions might sound differently especially when the speech has a high speed. For example “at” as opposed to “to”. Therefore, a good transcriptionist uses different speeds for certain parts of the speech to hear the words and spell them out correctly.

11. Enumeration

I looked into Clean verbatim and couldn’t find how to deal with enumeration; do spell out the number or just write it as a digit? It means that you can find it in the full verbatim. At samples of video captions I see:
1. [the text here]
2. [the text here]
Consequently, you put the numbers as digits with a dot after and then your text. Note that the word “number” is omitted.

Writing “number one” or “number two” and then the text is not a good idea. They are numbers from enumerating thoughts and not numbers that accompany a noun showing the count of that particular object.

12. Delimit speakers

Use “Speaker 1”, “Speaker 2” and so on because a good transcriptionist uses paragraphs within a speech. How can a reader distinguish if this is ANOTHER speaker or just another paragraph from the same speaker?
Although some courses or guides tell you not to put “Speaker 1”, it does create confusion as I just mentioned.

13. Account for the speakers

A transcriptionist would not put “Speaker 1”, “Speaker 2” and continue incrementing the numbers even though some speakers could come back into the discussion. You would certainly know when the next speaker has just started, but it’s hard to realize when a previous speaker gets back in again.

For now, this is all that I found out from my transcriptionist tests and look forward to knowing what you’ve come across when you took your testa. And if you did really well, which do you think are the main points that have helped you achieve a great result?