Course Tour—AP Latin

The Basics

Though there are no formal prerequisites to take this course, AP Latin serves as the culmination of your previous years’ education in Latin grammar and the culture of the Romans. This course focuses on two texts: The Aeneid by Vergil and De Bello Gallico or The Gallic War by Julius Caesar. 

Having a strong foundation in Latin grammar going into this course, students can use these texts to explore Roman rhetoric, mythology, history, and cultural values. For example, did you know that Caesar wrote the The Gallic War in the third person? He did this so that he could send records of his successes back to Rome as propaganda without seeming like he was, well, tooting his own horn.

The Exam

This optional exam is taken at the end of the year and follows this standard format:

  • Multiple choice: 50 Questions in 60 minutes. [50% of score]

  • Free Response: 5 questions in 120 minutes. [50% of score]

The free response questions include each of these 5 categories:

  1. Translation: Vergil

  2. Translation: Caesar

  3. Analytical Essay

  4. Short-Answer: Vergil

  5. Short-Answer: Caesar

In 2021, 3 testing dates will be available in May and June; however, due to the nature of AP Latin and online translating tools, this specific 2021 exam cannot be taken in an at-home or digital setting and must be administered in a school or school-proctored location in the traditional pencil and paper format.

The Statistics*

  • 6,083 students took the AP Latin course exam in 2019.

  • Of those who took the exam, 62.9% scored a 3 or higher.

  • The mean score was a 2.95.

  • 13% scored a 5! (In 2020, this rose to 16.5!)

AP Latin is considered moderately difficult among the other language AP courses, neither the easiest nor the hardest (the title of hardest typically goes to AP German).

*All statistics are sourced from College Board 2019 & 2020 score distributions.

Additional Course Facts

  • Most students take AP Latin in their senior year, but some choose junior year.

  • Some colleges will accept a passing AP score as college credit, which can decrease college costs.

  • The course isn’t only focused on the translation of the language but also teaches you Roman history, mythology, and artistic practices.

Why should you take this?

For the “Practical” Student: Latin is the basis for much of Western Culture. A strong foundation in Latin grammar will not only further your understanding of English but also any other Romance language, like Spanish, French, or Italian. On top of that, Latin is a fantastic choice for students hoping to go into science, medicine, or law, since all three fields draw heavily from Latin derivatives and phrases.

For the “Romantic” Student: Latin is the basis for much of Western Culture. If you’ve ever asked yourself “How did this start?” learning about Classical languages and cultures gives you a foundation in the birth of Western culture. By knowing Roman history, law, rhetoric, and art, you arm yourself with the seed of knowledge that influenced everything from American democracy to Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture to the monsters in modern video games. Further, there are few literary pleasures as rewarding as reading an often translated text in the original language, to hear the original authors sound, nuance, and intention.

Whatever your reasons for taking AP Latin, we hope that you will enjoy the course and that we will see you here at Pivot Tutors for a helping hand!

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