The Catholic University of America

Latin Placement Exams

Note that this exam tests your knowledge of classical Latin. If you have studied Biblical or medieval (also known in some contexts as "ecclesiastical" or "Christian") Latin for one or more semesters, you may choose to take the examination in order to assess your preparation for, and proper placement in, the department's classical Latin courses, but you should be aware that the exam's vocabulary, and the forms and constructions tested, are those of the classical era.

The Latin placement exam is administered online by request to the department.  As you are planning for your own potential test-taking dates, be certain to 1) leave room in your academic schedule for different possible placement outcomes (for example, do not register for other classes that meet at the same times as all sections of Latin 101 and Latin 103); and 2) schedule your exam in time for you to be placed in the proper course prior to the start of classes, if at all possible. (In general, you should allow an absolute minimum of two business days or one weekend for your test to be evaluated and the results emailed to you.)

The examination is three hours long, and you may use a dictionary of your own choice (though not one with forms or grammar in it) throughout the exam.  (One possible example is C. T. Lewis, An Elementary Latin Dictionary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199102058.)  No other aids are permitted. Many students may not have time to complete the entire assessment; you should aim to progress through as much of it as possible in three hours. The examination itself is in five parts, ascending in order of difficulty and complexity. The first four parts consist entirely of multiple-choice questions; the fifth part requires written English translations that you will be able to type into a response box.

Part 1 (30 questions) tests morphology by presenting questions about parts of speech, agreement, forms, and the completion of analogies. Part 2 (30 questions) asks you to select the correct word or word-form to complete a simple sentence. Part 3 (20 questions) asks you to choose the correct translation of a given complex sentence from a series of options. Part 4 (20 questions total) presents two short (c. 12-13 lines) prose passages for reading comprehension and then asks 10 questions about the grammatical forms and content of each passage. Part 5 presents two brief passages for translation into English, one prose (5 lines) and one poetry (6 lines).

The textbook that is best representative of departmental standards for those elements of morphology and syntax tested on this placement examination is F. L. Moreland and R. M. Fleischer, Latin: An Intensive Course (University of California Press; ISBN 0520027469). This text is employed in the departmental intensive course in elementary Latin (Latin 509) and is recommended for review and preparation for the exam.

Your exam will be evaluated by a member of the departmental faculty, and your placement communicated to you via email. There are several possible placement outcomes:

Undergraduate students

  • Enroll in Latin 101.
  • Enroll in Latin 103 (or Latin 516, offered during the summer only).
  • Enroll in a specified course above the Latin 104 level.

Graduate and certificate students

  • Enroll in Latin 509 (summer or fall semester).
  • Enroll in Latin 103 (fall semester only), then enroll in Latin 519 (spring semester only).
  • Enroll in Latin 516 and/or Latin 517 (summer only).
  • Enroll in Latin 519 (spring semester only).
  • Enroll in a specified course above the intermediate level.

Please note that students are not permitted to "sit out" Latin 101 or 103 and then take Latin 102 or 104 in the following semester. The department's intensive elementary Latin course, Latin 509 (= Latin 101-102, offered both during the summer and during the fall semester) and summer introductory reading courses, Latin 516-517 ( = Latin 103-104), may be appropriate substitutions for some curricular tracks; please consult the advisers for more information about these options.