I wish that this was the crux of my article, but it is not. Latin does do both of these things, but that could be discussed at a later time. This month, I would like to focus on exams your students may take in order to test their Latin/Roman culture knowledge. These tests are great, because they can only benefit your students. If your student does poorly on these tests, then you can file them away (most tests have a nominal fee so if your student does badly, you do not lose much money). If your student does well, he/she can gain accolades, scholarships and increase chances of gaining entrance into the college of his/her choice.
THE NATIONAL LATIN EXAM—This is the most well-known test for Latin students from introductory levels to Latin VI. Despite the name, it is a test given internationally to 150,000 students from all 50 states and 12 foreign countries including Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Zimbabwe, Iran, and Malaysia. Students are able to take the test at home; furthermore, the NLE has become very homeschooler friendly in the last few years. The test is timed, multiple-guess and has grammar, vocabulary, culture and a sight passage. Parents and tutors can access the last twelve years of the test online for practice at www.nle.org . Most students need a bit more practice on the culture (please refer to my article from last month which has websites useful for studying Roman culture and history).
If students do well on the tests, they get certificates and medals (which look great on college applications!). Also, if a student is a senior and receives a gold medal on Latin III or above, he/she can apply to get a $1000 scholarship for college.
Here are some sample questions from this year’s exams in levels 1-3:
Intro to Latin— The day before school started, students bought pencils, erasers, notebooks, etc. What does etc. mean?
A) as required B) whatever the cost C) and other things D) more than needed
Latin I— Arma hostium clārōrum erant perīculōsa. A) of the famous enemies B) by the famous enemies C) with the famous enemies D) to the famous enemies
Latin II— Narcissus _____ in aquā spectābat et dīxit, “Quam pulcher sum ego!” A) suum B) tē C) sē D) mē
Latin III– The public speaker delivered an ad hominem attack on a rival. What does ad hominem mean? A) ineffective B) secret C) personal D) unusual
In general, students who get around thirty questions right usually achieve a certificate on the test.
CLASSICAL LITERACY EXAM—This test is much smaller than the National Latin Exam. According to their website, “[Their] guiding idea is to include everything that educated people should know about the classical world, even if they have unfortunately never had a Latin class. If they have had a Latin class, the CLE will be a reward and a delight.” This test is not multiple guess and is actually graded by the tutor/teacher/parent. The cost is 75 cents. The website is http://abqlatin.com/classical-literacy-exam.
Your local classics group may also have tests and essay contests. In Virginia, we have the Classical Association of Virginia tournament (similar to the NLE) as well as essay contests, which are both English and Latin.
These tests are not necessary for a well-rounded Latin education, but they are good for giving students time to reflect on how well they are retaining their Latin and are excellent practice for other timed tests.
Next month, we shall discuss how important Latin III is for a well-rounded classical education.
Gratias vobis ago!
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