Today’s guest post is by Lucy Williams and was originally published on her own blog. As it is currently not available on her site, Lucy has kindly given me permission to reproduce two of her posts on the DipTrans on My Words for a Change since they contain valuable information for anyone thinking of taking the exam.
The title of this blog post is a bit tongue in cheek. I don’t pretend to be an expert. I am, it must be said, hugely proud of my two merits and a pass this January, but I can only say what helped me get there. Everyone has their own path.
Here are my top five tips:
1. Do a really good preparatory course
I actually did two. One of them provided good, thorough practice and feedback. The other, however, was the one I really learned from and it was this course, by the Translator’s Studio, which really pushed me over the finish line and gave me the edge I needed. I feel this course gave me the insight into my own abilities and weaknesses to be able to pull off those two merits.
I have written about it before, but what the Translator’s Studio course gave me which the other didn’t was INSIGHT. It taught me where I was going wrong (tendency to over translate and stray from the source and not proofread myself hard enough). I needed that spelled out to me (more than once) and to be able to see it for myself in time to change it and practise not doing it enough that it became a habit.
2. Work hard
I followed the advice Translator’s Studio gave me to the letter. I did all the assignments, I did the extra assignments. I made lists, I made glossaries. I followed their time management tips. The DipTrans is hard. You need to put in the time, there’s no getting round that. Quite apart from anything else, the way it’s set up (no internet, limited time) means it isn’t like most jobs you’ll do as a professional translator, so you need to dedicate time to practising the quite different skillset it requires.
3. Check your work before you hand it in
I did the exam on a computer, but made sure I printed out my texts and proofread them on paper before giving in the final version. The same way as I proof in Trados and then proof again in Word before sending the final word file to the client, it really helped me to proof again in a different format. Seeing as proofing was one of my biggest weakness, I think this gave me another advantage. Perhaps it helped me to those two merits?
4. Computer or by hand?
Sign up early and decide at that point if you will do the exam by hand or on a computer. Then, once you have decided, do all your practice tests that way. Work out timings for each exam and do every practice exam in those timings and under the same conditions you will have in the exam. You’ll find you develop little routines either way and these become habit and can save you time on the day. You’ll also feel more at home and less nervous I think. I calmed myself down by pretending the actual exam was just another timed practice test for my Translator’s Studio course.
5. Believe in yourself
The DipTrans is a HARD exam. The level required to pass is very high and if you do all three papers on one day (as I did) it’s really tiring. It’s seven hours of exams and even an experienced translator is flagging at the end of the day. It’s interesting that my two merits were the first two papers as the third and final paper didn’t seem too bad, but maybe I was just really tired by then and not quite as on the ball as I’d been for the other two.
But, what I’m getting to is that you have to believe in yourself and be confident in your translation choices as you will find you are pushed for time, you need to be razor sharp. I knew that I personally would need plenty of proofing time so I couldn’t afford to spend too long fretting over a word here or there or a turn of phrase. As my Translator’s Studio tutor, Gwenydd Jones, said to me, you need to get it down on paper accurately and then worry about polishing it later.
Thanks for reading, I hope there have been some helpful hints for anyone planning on sitting professional exams.
In Lucy’s first guest post, she explained what the DipTrans is and why she wanted to do it. You might also be interested in reading another guest post on this blog by Gwenydd Jones, DipTrans: the real costs and returns.
Lucy Williams is a Spanish to English translator and copywriter who helps businesses in the tourism, leisure and fashion industries share their unique experiences, destinations and products with a wider market by providing them with culturally appropriate and targeted marketing in flawless English.
She also offers translation and proofreading for academic texts and literature.
Lucy passed the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ Diploma in Translation in 2015 and has been working as a freelance translator for eight years.