10 DipTrans 2021 Preparation Essentials

A translator preparing for the DipTrans 2021

Written by Lucy Williams

Spanish-to-English translator and translator trainer

The CIOL DipTrans exam takes place once a year in mid-January. So, it’s time to start preparing for the DipTrans 2021. Here’s a list of my top ten DipTrans exam preparation essentials.

1. Exam preparation training

Number one obviously has to be training. This is a professional, post-graduate exam with a low pass rate (around 30% for some papers). I followed Gwenydd Jones’s excellent Advanced Spanish-to-English Translation Course with DipTrans preparation, which combines exam-style practice with an additional taught element, really helpful for improving, not just practising.

2. Exam timing

An important part of the DipTrans exam is timing. The Translator’s Studio course was great for recommending timings for drafting and proofing/correcting. Another tip here is to invest in a stopwatch. You won’t be able to use a mobile phone in the exam room and it’s vital to stick to your timings and not miss anything out. It’s also really important to do practice exams under timed conditions. Read this article for “5 Websites for Free Practice Texts for the Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation”.

3. English grammar

You might think this is a basic one, but you’ll be amazed by the traps you can fall into. Some of my personal areas to watch included nominalisation and compound adjectives. Having an expert translator like Gwenydd Jones check your work with a fine-tooth comb weeds out those silly mistakes you didn’t realise you were making. Have a look at Gwen’s article about “10 Proofreading Mistakes by Trainees on my DipTrans Online Course”.

4. Reading

Read as much as you can related to the subject areas of the DipTrans exam papers you think you might choose for the semi-specialist options. I chose literature, so I read up on literary translation. I also tried to read widely within English literary writing, as you don’t know what writer or literary genre you’ll get.

5. Stationery and other equipment

Get yourself into a translation routine so that, come exam time, your process is second nature. I liked to make notes on the exam paper on my first read through and would put the exam paper on a document holder to avoid having to twist my neck. I had bookmarks for my paper resources and organised my reference materials into a folder of plastic envelopes to flick through easily.

Check out these essential tips to help you prepare for the 2021 #DipTrans exam. Article by @LucyWTranslator Click To Tweet

6. Feedback and acting on it

Part of Gwen’s course that I enjoyed was the private Facebook group, where I could interact with my tutor and other students and discuss the exam further. I also made notes on my translation choices after I finished the task. It really helped to sharpen my critical faculties and think more carefully about my decisions.

7. Knowing the DipTrans exam

Make sure you know what’s expected of you. It’s not a cheap option, especially as very few people pass all three papers first time. This means you’ll probably have to re-sit at least some of it. Your first stop should be the IoLET Diploma in Translation Handbook for Candidates, to acquaint yourself with the structure of the exam, the task types and what the examiners are looking for.

8. Proofing your translation

I don’t know about you, but I hate proofreading. I’d much rather translate. But it’s of vital importance in the DipTrans exam. You need to be able to proofread your own work totally objectively before you hand in the final version. It’s very easy to be blind to your own mistakes and become hypnotised by the source text. The article I mentioned earlier on proofreading mistakes by trainees on Gwen’s DipTrans course is very helpful for this.

9. Resources

By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail. You can rely only on paper resources in the exam and so you need to think carefully about what you might need and have it all organised ready for the exam. Apart from good monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, one good tip is to make a list of translations for organisations, titles, government ministries and so on. Also, the source text could be from a Latin American country, so it can help to know a little basic information about each country and have this in a reference file.

10. Confidence

The DipTrans exam is a daunting prospect. I’ll admit I was a little scared. But, Gwen’s course gave me a great grounding. Come exam day, I knew I was a better translator for having done the course. Don’t be afraid, be prepared!

CIOL DipTrans exam preparation course

Are you planning to sit the DipTrans exam in 2021? Find out more about Gwenydd Jones’s CIOL DipTrans exam preparation course.

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