DipTrans Exam 2020 Report

A DipTrans exam candidate having printer problems.

Written by Gwenydd Jones

Translator, translator trainer and copywriter

Printers drove our candidates (and the invigilators) crazy once again this year in the CIOL DipTrans exam 2020.

The 2020 CIOL Diploma in Translation exam took place in the Spanish-to-English combination on Tuesday, 21 January. A total of seven candidates who had prepared with us on our DipTrans preparatory course sat the exam. Thanks to them, we’re able to provide this report.

We had candidates in Spain, the UK and Holland this year, all examining in the Spanish-to-English combination. Some of our candidates sat all three papers, while others were resitting or trying out just one paper. If you’re unsure whether you’re ready to pass, doing just one paper is a way to have the DipTrans experience without spending as much. Our course has a flexible duration and so it was possible for them to take a before-and-after approach to preparing for the exam.

Regarding preparation, we must take our hats off to this year’s study buddies. We introduced interested translators to each other and they worked together to get extra practice. The idea is that accountability helps us achieve goals. They translated over a dozen extra mock papers, which will definitely have helped them going into the exam. This is a service we’ll continue to offer going forward. Well done to Jessie, Alicia and Luke for going the extra mile with your preparation.

Get the lowdown on the 2020 DipTrans exam for Spanish-to-English translators.  #t9n #xl8. By @Gwenydd_Jones Click To Tweet

With a computer or by hand?

Most of our candidates sat the exam on a computer, with just one person taking the handwritten option. Writing by hand is certainly more challenging in terms of timing. The reason is simple: it’s harder to edit text that you’ve written out on a piece of paper. However, it wasn’t all wine and roses for the candidates working with computers.

At Westminster University, candidates were plagued by computer problems and the seven-hour exam session started 45 minutes late, reducing lunch and coffee breaks. Some candidates also complained that the smaller exam rooms were so cold that they had to wear coats.

Centres in Holland and Spain had printer problems, which caused stress and cut into exam time. Technical glitches are the risk with the computer option. But it wouldn’t seem unreasonable to expect the centres to have got their computers and printers up and running the day before the exam. On a positive note, the invigilators acted immediately and professionally in trying to resolve the issues at all centres.

To print or not to print?

Owing to printer problems and general unsureness, candidates in more than one centre ended up having to press print 10 minutes before the end, some being told to do so by the invigilators. This is a long time for an action that takes seconds and it meant they couldn’t take full advantage of the exam time.

This problem comes up year after year and it’s time the CIOL found a solution. At the very least, some clear rules on this matter rather than leaving it up to the centres would help candidates be prepared. In an exam like this, every minute counts. Until this situation is rectified, we’ll be advising our candidates to allow 10 minutes of printing time within their exam strategy.

The never-ending spellcheck saga

The Word versus WordPad versus Notepad and “can-we-use-spellcheck?” saga also continues. Some candidates were allowed to use Word and spellcheck, while others weren’t. When will the CIOL issue definitive guidelines on this simple matter? Candidates need to know because it affects their preparation for the exam. There’s also the issue of fairness across the board. Our current advice is to prepare based on the assumption that you won’t have access to spellcheck and consider it a bonus if you’re allowed to use it on exam day.Want the gossip from the 2020 DipTrans exam? Read this.CLICK TO TWEET

The secret place in Madrid to sit the DipTrans on a computer

Many translators in Spain are under the misbelief that the only option for sitting the DipTrans in the country is to write the examination paper out by hand. In fact, you can sit the DipTrans on a computer at the British Council, Madrid. Their centre isn’t advertised on the CIOL website and you need to contact them directly to book. That is, of course, if you still want to use a computer after reading all of the above.

Seriously though, despite the risks, we’ll continue to recommend the computer as the best option for the exam. It just makes editing so much easier. Let’s face it, who writes their professional translations out by hand these days?

The content of the Spanish-to-English papers in the 2020 CIOL DipTrans exam

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for, the content of the 2020 CIOL DipTrans Spanish-to-English exam papers.

DipTrans 2020, paper 1, general. An article from El Español by Peio H. Riaño entitled “Morir o Sonar, el Dilema de los Stradivarius de Palacio”. It was about Stradivarius instruments and their preservation. Our more musical candidates were pleased, but the specialist terminology meant more dictionary time than usual for some.

DipTrans 2020, paper 2, technology. We’re not certain on this one, but we think it was a text from El País on a new type of smart contact lens. Possibly extracted from this article. Let us know if you can confirm or deny this.

DipTrans 2020, paper 2, business. An extract from Calidad Pascual’s Informe de Valor Compartido 2017.

DipTrans 2020, paper 2, literature. An extract entitled “El Gran Rescate” from La Sangre de los Libros by Santiago Posteguillo. A literary collection of short stories. Two travellers arriving at a monastery discover parchments written by Cicero.

DipTrans 2020, paper 3, science. Another El País article, this one entitled “El Científico Poeta Que Busca la Cura para la Enfermedad de su Familia”, by Jessica Mouzo Quintáns.

DipTrans 2020, paper 3, social science. An article by Josep Cazorla Palomo about mental health entitled “Las Relaciones Sociales en Salud Mental”. The text was page 2 of the document with a few minor changes.

DipTrans 2020, Paper 3, law. Another one from El País. This one was about the Venice Commission and taken from an article entitled “Blasfemia y Libertad de Expression”.

A massive thank-you to Robert Whippy, Alicia Hector, Jessica Forbes, Matthew Dykes and others for their detailed contributions, which made this article possible.

Contact us.

If you’re looking for a DipTrans preparatory course and you’re a Spanish-to-English translator then you’re in the right place. You can even do a free level test if you’d like. We also cater to DipTrans resitters and Spanish-English translators with other specific requirements. 

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