The Chartered Institute of Linguists Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) is a professional qualification which has been running since 1989. It is one of the few examinations that allows translators working from Spanish into English (and many other language combinations as well) to show that they have reached a professional level of competence.
The exam tests the candidate's ability to translate a range of general and semi-specialist texts to a professional standard, and thus requires a) a high level of linguistic knowledge of the source language (in our case Spanish), and b) an ability to write effectively in the target language (in our case English). The aim of the examination is to set standards of quality and reliability in the field of translation, and to provide an assurance to prospective clients that successful candidates have met these standards.
In the UK it has come to be regarded as an entrance qualification to the profession. It is a challenging test of translating ability, but a fair one, in that candidates are allowed access to dictionaries and other works of reference and can use word processors (examination centre permitting). It is a practical, realistic exam, but only candidates who produce work of a professional standard will pass.
The examinations are held in mid-January each year.
Applications to sit the examination can be made through International House, Barcelona. The International House enrolment deadline for the Diploma in Translation examination is mid-August.
Alternatively, applications can be made to the CIOL directly. The CIOL enrolment deadline is August 31st.
Please note that the examination enrolment fee does not include the invigilation costs of the examining centre.
Please contact the Translation Department (contact details, foot of page) for current examination and invigilation fees.
The exam is in three parts:
A text of about 600 words. The CIOL describes it as demanding but non-specialized. The texts tend to be leader articles from quality newspapers on themes of cultural or social interest. Topics covered in the most recent general translation papers have been:
Candidates are expected to translate the text to a professional standard.
Candidates choose one of three texts of a semi-specialized nature of around 450 words, in the subject areas of Technology, Business or Literature.
Subject areas that may be covered under these headings can be found in the Diploma Handbook. Over the past few years, paper 2 has dealt with the following areas:
The word to stress here is semi-specialized. The texts are not as complex as ones that
technical, financial or legal translators deal with in real life. Nonetheless, in practice, those who
attempt Paper 2 (A) or (B) or Paper 3(D) do require some background in technology, business or science.
Candidates translate ONE of these texts. There is no need to decide beforehand which text you are going to choose, although obviously some candidates already have a clear idea. Others read through all the options and then take a decision.
In the IH distance learning course, Module 6 focuses on the Literature paper, Module 7 on the Technology paper, and Module 8 on the Business paper.
Candidates choose one of three texts of a semi-specialized nature of around 450 words, in the subject areas of Science, Social science or Law.
Subject areas that may be covered under these headings can be found in the Diploma Handbook.
Over the past few years, Paper 3 has dealt with the following areas:
Again, candidates translate ONE of these texts. In the IH distance learning course, Module 6 focuses on the Social Science paper, Module 7 on the Science paper, and Module 8 on the Law paper.
Candidates may sit all three papers in the same session, or may choose to sit the General Paper one year, and the other two papers the next year.
Distinctions may be awarded for an outstanding performance in any paper, and a Merit grade may be gained for work of a higher standard than that required for a Pass.
There are two fail grades, F4 and F5, F4 being the less serious, and F5 being a considerable way off the required standard.
Marking guidelines can be found in the Diploma Handbook.
The Diploma in Translation Handbook provides a very full description of the exam. It be accessed on the Institute's website (www.ciol.org.uk).
The Institute runs exams from most major languages into English, and an exam from English into other languages as well.
Candidates are strongly advised to translate only into their mother tongue.
The IOL Diploma in Translation is now eligible for credit towards an Open University BA/BSc degree.