The Way We Work

You know you are a rock star at PHP, or that you know the AP Style Guide inside and out. But it is a little more difficult for prospective employers to know this — so how do you prove your skills and set yourself apart from the competition?

A great portfolio is certainly a start, but leveraging oDesk skill tests can give you the advantage you need.

oDesk’s qualification tests are free evaluations that highlight the knowledge you have in your areas of expertise. They help qualify your abilities, and contractors who rank highest are recognized with Top 10% and Top 20% profile badges.

With approximately 40 questions on each test, these assessments are neither quick nor easy. But, as with positive feedback, earning good marks on a selection of qualification tests can be an important part of your oDesk marketing plan.

Getting started

Are you planning to take your first oDesk test? Take a moment to review the Frequently Asked Questions and take these steps to make sure you are prepared.

  • Review the syllabus. Every test includes a syllabus — an outline of the knowledge to be tested – as well as rules for taking the test. Review the syllabus in advance so you know what to expect; if it indicates specific topics, brush up on these when preparing.
  • Review the test rules. Standard test rules indicate that you can only take tests within a specific duration of time, so make sure you set aside enough uninterrupted time before you begin. Take time to prepare. Taking time to study always reaps good results!


The value of oDesk qualification tests is that they reflect a standard measurement of your abilities; if you are a bookkeeper testing your understanding of accounting principles, you will be evaluated on the same criteria as others who have taken the test — regardless of any external factors.

Your test results should support the skills you promote on your profile and the material you highlight in your portfolio. Focus on the skills that are most relevant to the services you offer. With 344 different topics, you can be pretty specific about the expertise you want to showcase. For example, you could test your English to French translation skills — but if you are marketing your Java programming expertise it is best not to distract from your primary service.

Be selective

Because your test scores should help show you at your very best, only display your good marks on your profile. There is no benefit to stuffing your profile with test results if they do not support your areas of expertise or show you at your very best.

If you feel you can do better on a particular test, you can always elect not to display your results. Then take time to review the areas where you fell short; you will be able to retake the test in a month’s time.

We would love to hear from you — how have oDesk tests helped you win more contracts? Share your experiences in the comments section below!

Amy Sept

Managing Editor

As the managing editor of the Upwork blog, Amy Sept works with regular and guest writers to share information that helps freelancers and businesses navigate the future of work. She owns Nimbyist Communications and helps non-profits, startups, and small business owners get their content marketing on track.