The 2023 CIOL Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) exam sessions have now ended. The next DipTrans exams will take place in January and July 2024. This article will help you make a DipTrans study plan for the countdown to the exam.
The more preparation you do now, the more likely you will be to pass the DipTrans. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of the translation study time you have left before the exam.
More about the DipTrans exam.
1. If you haven’t done a preparation course, do one
A good tutor will be your strongest ally in passing the July 2023 CIOL DipTrans exam. They should help you work on exam strategy, and show you how to refine your translation, editing and proofreading technique. To be able to dedicate sufficient time to your course, start as early as possible in the year.
If you’re a Spanish- or French-to-English translator, look no further than our DipTrans preparation course. You’ll love the detailed, personal feedback.
2. If you’ve already done a course, go back over it
Most courses to prepare for the CIOL DipTrans are modular. Plan to review one module a week or every two weeks between now and the exam. And, most importantly of all, review your feedback on the translations you did for each module. This exercise will bring what you learned back to the forefront of your brain. That way, you won’t repeat old mistakes.
3. Make a plan based on two-week chunks of time
You’ll need a written study plan. The temptation is to be overambitious and set goals that are unattainable. It’s better to say you’ll do 30 minutes a day and achieve that than to say you’ll do two hours and never manage it.
Start by identifying general goals (suggestions below), and then break each one down into a series of activities. Then, write out a schedule from now to the DipTrans exam and split it into two-week chunks. In each two-week period, try to complete one activity for each goal. To ensure progress, the activities must all be completed by the end of each two-week period.
Sitting down and figuring out your timings is high priority.
4. For the general paper, get with the news
You’ll find detailed suggestions on how to approach the general paper in this article all about Unit 1 of the DipTrans exam. Unit 1 is a journalistic text. The subject matter is normally taken from a leading publication in the source-language country. For Spanish to English, this is often El País. For French to English, Le Monde is a good source. The articles are often taken from a few months before the exam date. So, familiarise yourself with the news during that time.
For the English side of things, read a few good opinion articles every two weeks. Be observant while you read. Aim to learn the vocabulary and style the journalists are using so you can replicate it.
5. Make decisions about the different areas of style you might get tested on
Look over past papers and make a list of areas of style that you may get tested on in the different papers. Every two weeks, research one of them and decide what you will do in the exam if the area gets tested.
Examples include punctuating newspaper quotes, title case, when to capitalise job titles, punctuating dialogue, punctuating academic quotes and punctuating lists. Make your own document summarising the style you intend to follow so you can use it for reference in the exam. See our recommended style guides and other resources for the exam.
A good tutor will be your strongest ally in passing.
6. Review the finer points of punctuation
As with your stylistic choices, make a list of the main punctuation marks that cause you problems. Take 30 minutes every two weeks to study one of them. Translators who do our courses make the most mistakes with commas, semi-colons, colons, hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes.Check out these useful ideas for making your #DipTrans study plan. #xl8 Click To Tweet
7. Plan your exam timing and have practice runs
If you haven’t done a DipTrans preparatory course that helps you plan how to use your time in the DipTrans exam, then sitting down and figuring out your timings is high priority. Plan how long you will dedicate to selecting your text (in the case of papers 2 and 3), the first reading, drafting the translation, checking the draft for accuracy, editing the translation and proofreading it.
Then, try it out and refine it. Here are a few articles to help you find texts to practise for the CIOL Diploma in Translation exam: “How to Get DipTrans Past Papers for the Diploma in Translation Exam”, “Essentials for DipTrans Exam Unit 3E Social Science” and “Free Translation of General DipTrans Past Paper (Spanish to English)”.
8. Think about reference resources
It’s worth spending 30 minutes every two weeks to think about your reference resources for the exam. There are the obvious monolingual and bilingual dictionaries (see our recommendations for SPA>ENG and FR>ENG, specialist dictionaries and a thesaurus. But beyond those, you’re free to create any type of paper-based reference document you want.
These could include compiling a checklist of your favourite mistakes, to use when you proofread. It’s a good idea to buy one of our style guide recommendations. You could use this as inspiration to help you start creating your own style guide (you may find our “Translation Style Guide” useful).
In terms of glossaries, specialist terminology is potentially useful. The problem is that anything could come up in the exam. So, there’s no way of knowing whether you’ll create the “right” glossary. One of our tips for our students is to make a glossary of linking words, which will be helpful in all the papers. We provide a template on our translation courses.
9. Find a study buddy
We give our students the opportunity to get a study buddy. This involves working in groups of two or three to create accountability and get extra practice. If you can find someone else who’s planning to sit the July 2023 DipTrans exam, then see if they want to form a study team with you.
The two of you could choose a text to translate and then do a review for each other. Alternatively, you could look for existing translations online and critique them together. Of course, an easy solution is to join the Translator’s Studio courses, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet plenty of other translators.
10. Get a tutor to do one-off feedback
If you don’t have the time or desire to sign up for a whole course, consider getting feedback on just a few translations. For French- and Spanish-to-English translators, we offer resitter packs that comprise just three texts. We designed them for the DipTrans, but they’re also popular among translators preparing for other exams.
Train with us for the CIOL DipTrans on our DipTrans preparatory course