AP Latin

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This article is part of the
Advanced Placement  series.
General exam structure    •    Awards
Current subjects:
In development:
Former subjects:

Advanced Placement Latin (known also as AP Latin), formerly Advanced Placement Latin: Vergil, is an examination in Latin literature offered by the College Board's Advanced Placement Program. Prior to the 2012–2013 academic year, the course focused on poetry selections from the Aeneid, written by Augustan author Publius Vergilius Maro, also known as Vergil or Virgil. However, in the 2012–2013 year, the College Board changed the content of the course to include not only poetry, but also prose. The modified course consists of both selections from Vergil and selections from Commentaries on the Gallic War, written by prose author Gaius Julius Caesar. Also included in the new curriculum is an increased focus on sight reading. The student taking the exam will not necessarily have been exposed to the specific reading passage that appears on this portion of the exam. The College Board suggests that a curriculum include practice with sight reading. The exam is administered in May and is three hours long, consisting of a one hour multiple-choice section and a two hour free-response section.

Material Previously Tested[edit]

The AP Latin: Vergil exam was based upon Vergil's Aeneid.

Students were expected to be familiar with the following 1,856 lines of the Aeneid:[1]

Students were also expected to be familiar with the total content of Books 1 through 12.

Abilities tested[edit]

The exam tests students' abilities to:[2]

Reading and translation[edit]

Critical appreciation of the Aeneid as poetry implies the ability to translate literally, to analyze, to interpret, to read aloud with attention to pauses and phrasing, and to scan the dactylic hexameter verse. Students should be given extensive practice in reading at sight and in translating literally so that their translations not only are accurate and precise, but also make sense in English.

The instructions for the translation questions, "translate as literally as possible," call for a translation that is accurate and precise. In some cases an idiom may be translated in a way that makes sense in English but is rather loose compared to the Latin. In general, however, students are reminded that:[3]


The three hour exam consists of a one hour multiple-choice section and a two hour free-response section that includes fifteen minutes of reading time and one hour forty-five minutes of writing time.[4] The multiple choice section includes approximately fifty questions that relate to four passages: three read at sight and one from the syllabus. The multiple choice questions test the many skills learned and practiced throughout the year, including:[5]

The free-response section includes translation, analysis, and interpretation of the Latin text from the syllabus. The format is as follows:[6]

Course Revisions for the 2012–2013 Year[edit]

For the 2012–2013 academic year, the College Board announced that it has made revisions to its AP Latin curriculum. In general, the College Board announced new goals in the curriculum. These include:[7]

Instead of solely focusing on Vergil's Aeneid, the curriculum will now include both prose and poetry, including selections from Julius Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War.[8] The new required reading list, including revisions to the number of lines required from the Aeneid, is:[9]

Vergil's Aeneid

Caesar's Gallic War

Also, there is a change to the required readings in English. The new list from the Aeneid is books 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12, instead of all twelve books, as was previously required.[10] The new required reading list in English from the Gallic War is books 1, 6, and 7. Also in the revised curriculum there is also a newly placed emphasis on sight reading. The College Board announced that the exam will include Latin passages not on the required readings lists in an effort to enhance students' ability to read at sight. Recommended authors for prose include (inexhaustively): Nepos, Cicero (though not his letters), Livy, Pliny the Younger, and Seneca the Younger, rather than authors such as Tacitus or Sallust. For poetry, recommended authors (inexhaustively) include: Ovid, Martial, Tibullus, and Catullus, rather than poets such as Horace, Juvenal, or Lucan.[11] For practice with sight reading in both poetry and prose, the College Board recommends additional Latin passages in the Aeneid and Gallic War that are not included in the required reading list.

Grade distribution[edit]

In the 2010 administration, 6,523 students took the exam, and 4,114 passed (3 or higher), or about 63.1%.[12] In the 2011 administration, 6,044 students took the exam, and 3,861 passed (3 or higher), or about 63.9%.[13] In the 2012 administration, 18,161 students took the exam, and 11,244 passed (3 or higher), or about 61.9%.[14] The grade distributions for 2010, 2011, and 2012 were:

Score Percentages
Year54321MeanStandard DeviationNumber of Students


External links[edit]