By Andrew Kuhry-Haeuser, Carmenta Founder
I developed the following approach to preparing for and taking the AP Latin Exam over the course of more than two decades as a Latin student and teacher. The first part of this article covers the 6 steps students need to take leading up to the AP Latin Exam. The second part covers the 5 essential aspects of a good general Latin education, which top scorers need to have had as well.
Part 1: The 6 Steps for AP Success
1) Translate Required Passages
Read and translate all parts of Vergil’s Aeneid and Caesar’s Gallic War required by the College Board. The specific passages are:
Book 1: Lines 1-209, 418-440, 494-578
Book 2: Lines 40-56, 201-249, 268-297, 559-620
Book 4: Lines 160-218, 259-361, 659-705
Book 6: Lines 295-332, 384-425, 450-476, 847-899
Caesar, Gallic War
Book 1: Chapters 1-7
Book 4: Chapters 24-35 and the first sentence of book 36
Book 5: Chapters 24-48
Book 6: Chapters 13-20
2) Read Required Texts in Translation
Read the sections of both works (the Aeneid and the Gallic War) in English translation that are required by the College Board and know the full plots of both works extremely well.
Books 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12
Caesar, Gallic War
Books 1, 6, and 7
3) Increase Sight-Reading Ability
Keep on re-reading and translating the passages covered on the Exam over a sufficient period of time (ideally a full year), doing your best to get to the point where you can easily sight read and understand the text in a precise fashion while maintaining a keen awareness of the details of grammar.
4) Take Vocabulary Quizzes
Take the Grey Fox AP Latin Practice Tests [last 6 words link to main AP Latin Practice Tests page] to improve your knowledge of vocabulary and grammar specific to the required passages.
5) Master Meter and Scansion
There will always be at least one question on the test dealing with the scansion of a line of the Aeneid. The best preparation for this is to learn the rules of meter and then practice scanning the meter of as many lines in Vergil’s Aeneid as possible. The basic rules for dactylic hexameter scansion are outlined on Wikipedia . Be aware, though, that it’s almost impossible to learn how to do this without a certain amount of training in scansion from an experienced Latin teacher or Tutor.
Click to see a list of our Top 25 Online Latin Tutors.
6) Complete Practice Tests
Take all available AP Latin Exam Practice Tests posted on the College Board website. These practice tests will familiarize students with the structure and pace of the test.
In the end, the students who do best will have focused not only on knowing the covered sections extremely well but also on knowing the Latin language well. A small portion of the Exam will cover sections of the two works not listed among the required translation sections, so memorization of the required passages will almost never be enough to get the student a score of 5.
Of course, many students, particularly if their school’s Latin classes don’t provide them with sufficient support and/or do not focus enough on any of these six steps, will need expert supplementary tutorial help. Carmenta Online PhD Tutors has dozens of expert Latin tutors who are highly experienced in teaching all aspects of the AP Latin Exam and helping students to succeed on the Exam.
Click to see a list of Carmenta’s Top 25 Online Latin Tutors.
Part 2: Essential Aspects of a Good Latin Education
For the steps above to be effective, it is essential that the student has had a solid general Latin education. You won’t be fully ready to prepare for the Exam unless you have already studied the following aspects of Latin over a sufficient period of time, ideally over several years:
1) Sentence Translation – Learn and get good at a step-by-step approach for translating Latin sentences.
2) Pronunciation and Accent – Learn and apply a consistent pronunciation of Latin along with the correct accent of words.
3) Latin Forms – Spend as much time as possible conjugating, declining, and reciting forms and endings out loud
4) Rules of Grammar – Memorize and be able to apply Latin grammar rules, including the details of Special Ablative and Dative Uses, Prepositions, the Sequence of Tenses, and Dependent Clause Types.
5) Vocabulary – The best way by far for students to memorize vocabulary long term is to speak the language, to converse in Latin with other Latinists who, ideally, are at your same competence level, not to memorize vocabulary lists or flash cards.
For a more detailed overview of the five essential aspects of a good Latin education, read my article “How to Get an ‘A’ in Latin”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Magister Andrew Kuhry-Haeuser has a B.A. (Honors) in Latin from Gonzaga University. He is currently the Founder and Head of both Carmenta Online PhD Tutors and Grey Fox Tutors. Magister Andrew has taught a number of classes for Carmenta, including "Classical Literature" and all levels of Latin, Conversational Latin, and Ancient Greek. He has also tutored a wide range of subjects, including Latin, Ancient Greek, English, Writing, German, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Geology, Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and History.
Click here to see Magister Andrew’s full profile on the Carmenta website.