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Comparability of difficulty levels of translation tasks in CET-6 parallel test forms: evidence from product and process-based data

Liu, Yanmei and Zheng, Binghan 'Comparability of difficulty levels of translation tasks in CET-6 parallel test forms: evidence from product and process-based data.', The Interpreter and Translator Trainer .


This study investigates the comparability of three parallel translation tasks selected from a College English Test Band-6 (CET-6) and explores the major linguistic features contributing to translation difficulty. Data obtained from the participants’ subjective rating, eye-tracking, and performance evaluation were triangulated to measure the comparability of difficulty levels of parallel translation tasks. Data of word translation entropy, translation errors, and participants’ retrospective reports were correlated to examine the difficulty triggers. The results show that: (i) the text comparability was evidenced by eye-tracking indicators and performance measurements, but not supported by subjective ratings; (ii) the domain content words (DCWs) were reported by the participants as the major cause of translation difficulties and the unequal number of DCWs among the three tasks led to inconsistent ratings for the task difficulty. Our findings suggest that test-takers’ subjective perception and their cognitive skills deserve serious consideration by test designers, as these two factors can better demonstrate difficulty levels among parallel tasks. Our study postulates a new direction to establish a relationship between task characteristics and test validity, and provides suggestions for the CET-6 committee and other examination boards with practical methods to be able to compare the difficulty levels of parallel translation tasks.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Difficulty levels; Chinese-English translation; CET-6; domain content words; parallel test forms;
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:29 January 2022
Date deposited:15 February 2022
Date of first online publication:14 February 2022
Date first made open access:15 February 2022

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