Diptrans format
Thread poster: Paula Borges

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
May 8, 2010

I might be sitting the Diptrans next year and I would like to ask some questions to anyone who's taken it.

- Have you taken it the UK or abroad?
- Is it all handwritten? Are drafts allowed?
- Is it timed by subject?
- Which parts were the easiest? And the most difficult?
- What can you use (dictionaries, glossaries, etc.)
- Any tips?

Thank you.


[Edited at 2010-05-08 03:02 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My experience May 8, 2010

Although I still don't know whether I have passed or not (the results are being sent out these days), this is my experience about the matter.

Paula Borges wrote:
- Have you taken it the UK or abroad?

I took it at the British Council in Madrid, and it was a very nice experience. The BC has a lovely little palace, they were all very kind and they are very well organised. There are a number of places where you can take the exam in each country. Check the IOL's website for the details.

Paula Borges wrote:
- Is it all handwritten? Are drafts allowed?

If you handwrite, at most you will be able to make ONE draft and the final text. I strongly advise to spend a little more and use an examinacion centre that will allow you to use a computer. It changes the situation completely. At the British Council in Madrid we could print, and I printed up to three drafts to polish different areas (integrity, style, and grammar/spelling).

Paula Borges wrote:
- Is it timed by subject?

You have one general paper and two semi-specialised papers. Each semi-specialised papers is chosen from a group of three subjects. You get to see all three texts of each set, and choose one.

The general paper is longer and contains some 600 words. You get 3 hours to do it. It is linguistically challenging but does not require any specific knowledge. You should however be up-to-date on British matters and culture. If you regularly read British books, newspapers, or magazines or have recently lived in the UK for some time, you should be fine. I had lived in the UK a very long time ago (at the end of the 1980's), and a subscription to a British magazine and a Sunday paper helped me a lot.

The semi-specialised have 450 words each, and you get 2 hours for each of them. I'd say you should choose topics in which you have a solid experience as a translator, as the papers condense the range of challenges you might face in several months of work.

Paula Borges wrote:
- Which parts were the easiest? And the most difficult?

"Easy" is not in the vocabulary of the exam. Maybe you are more acquainted with some technical areas, but all texts are equally challenging. Furthermore, if after any preparation you do for this exam you still go with the idea that it will be a piece of cake, prepare for bad news. Just do not trust your abilities in excess.

Paula Borges wrote:
- What can you use (dictionaries, glossaries, etc.)

You can take whatever dictionaries you want. If you have a large glossary, I'd encourage you to sort it adequately, print it and have it bound as a book. I don't think they allow individual sheets of paper, but any books are allowed. I took two suitcases full of dictionaries. Most people only took two or three dictionaries, clearly insufficient in my opinion. If you can, "grab all your stuff" to the exam as having more references can save your day.

Paula Borges wrote:
- Any tips?

Although 3 hours for 600 words sounds like a lot of time, do not be overconfident about this. Even with a lot of experience, you will need to concentrate a lot and work hard during the three hours. In my case, even if I am a fast typer, I only had some 5 minutes left at the end of each exam, and worked very intensely non-stop.

Prepare yourself well for the exam! Ideally, take a course about the DipTrans containing previous exams so that you get acquainted with the level of difficulty and the format. The City University London has nice courses in this area. I did the last module (the highest level) and it was very useful indeed. I'd recommend you do check the courses immediately as they only have one or two registration periods during the year.

During the day of the exam, you get 1 hour for lunch between the general paper and the first semi-specialised paper, so I'd have it all under control (where in the area will you get a proper lunch in that time and at that time of the day --British times--, as well as some quiet). I'd forget about sandwiches or similar options at the exam centre: you will really need to get some fresh air and relax your mind. Between the semi-specialised papers you get 30 minutes to relax a bit, and you can take a nice little walk or have a refreshment/coffee/tea... (look for some place nearby where you will get any of these two options).

And good luck!


 

Tom Tyson  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:36
Member
German to English
Tomas has said it all! May 8, 2010

I can't add much to Tomas's excellent answer - I took the exam in in London 2009 and had a surprisingly pleasant experience, despite my initial anxiety.

We had to hand write our answers, but that wasn't a problem, though it's sensible to practise in advance as most of us can hardly hold a pen any more! (I used a pencil to draft any sections I knew I would want to go back over, then rubbed it out and wrote over in pen.)

There was plenty of time to review the translations in each section.

I took along a huge stack of reference materials, but only ever used my big dictionary. The texts were challenging, but not that hard apart from one or two moments in each piece. My last exam was supposed to be a Social Sciences semi-specialisation, and turned out to be about the relationship between religion and bio-ethics - nice! I'm glad I revised that particular topic. (I didn't). The practice papers I'd done hadn't led me so expect something quite so rarified!

So Paula - go for it, is my advice. But if you do, try and get hold of as many past papers as you can: they're the best preparation there is, and you'll soon see what you're up against and whether it's right for you to continue.

And good luck, Tomas - I remember this coming up on the forum last year when you were preparing!


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Puzzled May 8, 2010

Confusing. I contacted them two weeks ago and was told that you are not allowed to use computers under any circumstances. I'm wondering: have things changed or am I being misinformed?

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You are being misinformed May 9, 2010

Paula Borges wrote:
Confusing. I contacted them two weeks ago and was told that you are not allowed to use computers under any circumstances. I'm wondering: have things changed or am I being misinformed?

The use or lack of computers for the exam depends on the examination centre. Some centres offer a computer, some don't. What you cannot use is Internet, electronic glossaries, any kind of digital media you may carry with you, an iPod, a laptop... You may only use the examination centre's computer, which will not have Internet but will have a spellchecker. So the spellchecker is the only digital help you will get.


 

Fiona Gonçalves  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 11:36
Member
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Here's another little tip May 9, 2010

Hi.
Tomás has covered it all very well. I back him up strongly on - subject to it being an option for you - taking the exam at a test centre with computers. I did it at the British Council in Lisbon and it was all handwritten, which just adds more stress to an already stressful situation. I'd just add one little tip that no-one else has mentioned so far in relation to the semi-specialised papers. It's probably best to try and concentrate mostly on what you feel is your strongest option in each paper during your pre-exam preparation but ensure you also spend some time on a 2nd choice. I fully intended to do the science option in the paper where that appears because I felt I was well up-to-date, but on the day it turned out to be about something I'd never heard about. I ended up opting instead for the legal paper and then spent an excruciating 4 months until the results came out wondering if I'd done the right thing.
Hope this helps.
Good luck!


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Strange.. May 9, 2010

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

Paula Borges wrote:
Confusing. I contacted them two weeks ago and was told that you are not allowed to use computers under any circumstances. I'm wondering: have things changed or am I being misinformed?

The use or lack of computers for the exam depends on the examination centre. Some centres offer a computer, some don't. What you cannot use is Internet, electronic glossaries, any kind of digital media you may carry with you, an iPod, a laptop... You may only use the examination centre's computer, which will not have Internet but will have a spellchecker. So the spellchecker is the only digital help you will get.


This is what is confusing. Initially, I had arranged to be in London at the time, mostly because I'd like to do it on a computer. I've contacted Iol via e-mail and they just told me i wouldn't be able to use computers at any of the centres, that it is simply not allowed.

Have things changed or am I just getting wrong information?

[Edited at 2010-05-09 18:07 GMT]


 

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Computers May 9, 2010

I also plan to take the DipTrans next year (probably here in Brazil), and on my Candidate Handbook sheet I have found the following:

"Candidate are not allowed to BRING any IT equipment, including laptops, desktops, keyboards etc to any IoL examinations. The use of electronic dictionaries is not allowed under any circumstances. Where computer facilities are offered by an Examination Centre, candidates are able to use them on the following grounds only:

(...)

ii) that the computer does not contain any software, for example, a translation programme, which is not allowed under the conditions of the syllabus. In addition, all access to Internet facilities is forbidden."

It seems the key word here is BRING. You can not bring your own computer, but the Examination Centres may offer computers to work on. In this case you must print off your work to hand in, and also the examination centre takes no responsibility if the programme crashes or anything like that [item (vi) in the list of grounds] and, depending on the configuration of the computer, accents may have to be added by hand [item (ix) in the same list].

It is not clear whether you need to ask the Examination Centre to provide a computer or if this is done anyway.

Boa Sorte Paula!


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Paul, let's be Diptrans buddies! May 9, 2010

I intend to sit it at the British Council in SP. I think they will have no computers, but I'll ask them again. Scared to death.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You cannot bring; you can use May 9, 2010

Paul Dixon wrote:
It seems the key word here is BRING. You can not bring your own computer, but the Examination Centres may offer computers to work on.

Yes, that is exactly the case. You cannot use your own computer (or any other electronic device), but you can use the examination centre's computer.


 

Paula Borges  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:36
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear Paul May 17, 2010

I've contacted the British Council and they said they *think* it'd be possible to allow us to use computers and print off the exams, if the Institution agrees.

I took that as a yes, which is a good sign.


 


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