November 18, 2020
Salve, and welcome to this guide on how to get a quinque 5️⃣ on your AP Latin exam! In this guide, we'll provide five helpful tips and tricks that you can use to get the score you want on your exam!
As with many other AP exams, knowing the exam format is half of the battle to get the 5, and AP Latin is no exception. AP Latin consists of two sections, a multiple choice question (MCQ) section, and a free-response question (FRQ) section. Let's break down each portion:
The multiple-choice section of the AP Latin exam has 50 questions, 60 minutes to complete it, and is worth 50% of the exam score. This translates to 1% overall per question, and an average of 1 minute, 12 seconds, per question. There will be four types of question on the exam:
10-12 questions about the Vergil readings
10-12 questions about the Caesar readings
13-15 sight prose readings (75-100 word stimuli)
13-15 sight poetry readings (10-15 line stimuli)
Of those questions, the vast majority (90%!) assess reading and comprehension, so knowing the meanings of words in context, various rhetorical devices, knowing grammatical terminology and application, and other similar skills are crucial. The remainder will assess your knowledge and ability to contextualize the readings and stimuli, requiring knowledge of Roman history, culture, and mythology to apply the readings and put them in broader contexts.
Because of the nature of how people learn the Latin language, the FRQs for AP Latin are not the same format as the other AP language exams. You will have 120 minutes to complete five different FRQs at however timing you want to, although the College Board recommends a particular length of time for each FRQ. They are each worth 7.5%, except for the essay, which is worth 20%, making the entire section worth 50% overall.
Vergil Translation: 15 minutes to translate ~35 words from the required Aeneid readings.
Caesar Translations: 15 minutes to translate ~40 words from the required Gallic War readings.
Analytical Essay: 45 minutes to write an essay analyzing two passages from the two authors
Vergil Short Answer Questions: 15 minutes to answer 5-7 questions based on 5-10 lines from the Vergil readings.
Caesar Short Answer Questions: 15 minutes to answer 5-7 questions based on 50-75 words from the Caesar readings.
The AP Latin exam requires memorization, knowledge, and retaining of a bunch of different grammatical and literary terms. One of the best steps you can take towards success is to feel comfortable with all the terms, to the point where they become almost second nature. This way, you will not have to stress about vocabulary recall while you are writing your FRQs and answering multiple-choice questions.
If you need some reinforcement, check out our Best AP Latin Quizlets guide (coming soon) to find some helpful flashcard decks that will get you well on your way to reinforcing all of those poetic devices and grammatical terms!
Being an efficient reader is always helpful for timed exams, but it is crucial in AP Latin. With very dense language to unpack, you should be as efficient and strategic as possible in order to leave yourself as much time as possible to answer questions that take you a little longer. Remember, once you walk out of the exam room, no one will hold you accountable for the material on that exam! Do whatever you can to show your knowledge and answering the most questions correctly, even if that means compromising comprehension of some parts of the passage.
Read the questions before reading the passage so you don't accidentally spend time trying to figure out something that won't even be asked about. For questions that refer to a specific line or words, make a note of them in the reading, and then you can make your targeted search for the answer, and then you can go back and skim the whole passage for questions that pertain to the whole thing. If you need some extra advice on this, check out our AP Latin Multiple Choice (coming soon) and Free Response (coming soon) guides to get more specific tips on those portions of the exam.
As with sports, hobbies, and other academic and non-academic response, repetition is one of the keys to success. Give yourself a schedule that you can follow in order to get into a rhythm of learning. It doesn't even matter what that schedule is, as long as it works for you. Set aside the same amount of time every week whenever possible to work on Latin outside of class, or create a consistent schedule for self-studying.
Languages aren't something you can cram at the last second — studying with a set repetition and rhythm will help it become (almost) second nature. That way, when you sit down and take the exam, you won't be worried about keeping the material in your head and can just rely on natural recall.
Latin isn't an easy language, and the AP Latin exam isn't easy either. There will be times (trust us, we know), when you want to throw your head against the wall because the cases aren't working out, or you can't remember the exact name of a rhetorical device. But no one said Latin would be easy, either! When you don't get something, don't keep trying over and over the same way. Take a deep breath, walk around for thirty seconds, and try approaching it from a different angle. For example, maybe try analyzing a sentence and then translating it, rather than try to go based on what the words mean. If a grammar question is tripping you up, figure out which possibilities you know wouldn't make sense, rather than panicking because you don't exactly know what all of the terms mean!
Be confident in yourself and your Latin knowledge! Don't overthink the content; go with your gut! We know that you are going to ace your exam. You got this! 5️⃣
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