Students take prestigious Latin exam


A released past version of the NLE.

Tommy Lunn, Opinion Editor

Every March, thousands of students across the country and in countries all over the world take the National Latin Exam (NLE), administered by a committee at the University of Mary Washington.  For Jefferson’s Latin program, the test is one of the most important events of the year, with many students usually winning high-level awards.

“I always found learning about culture and mythology to be my favorite parts of taking Latin,” freshman Juliana Gruver, a student in Latin 2, said.  “ I just find it really interesting to learn about all these aspects of life and religion from so long ago, and to see what carried over into today.”

This year, the NLE is being administered at Jefferson from March 11 to 12.  The NLE accompasses 40 questions, based on a combination of passages and Roman culture and history for levels one through four, and based solely on passages for levels five and six.

“Taking the NLE is important because Latin is more about just learning grammar and vocabulary, it’s also about the mythology, culture, history, literature, and modern day connections to the language,” junior Anant Das, who is in Latin 3, said.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the NLE is the possibility of winning an award.  Awards based on single tests include perfect papers, gold medals, silver medals, magna cum laude certificates and cum laude certificates.  The thresholds for each of these awards, not including the perfect paper, change with the difficulty of each level’s test.

Should a student do well multiple times, larger awards are given.  For three or more perfect paper awards, students receive the Carter Drake Goad Book Award.  Students who score four gold medals receive the The Maureen O’Donnell Oxford Classical Dictionary Award.  Both awards include the presentation of a book as well as publication of the recipients’ names in the National Junior Classical League (NJCL) newsletter.

“The NLE is an exam that encompasses all those aspects requiring test takers knowledgeable in all of them,” Das said.  “I think the best part of being successful on the NLE is that it makes you feel like a very cultured person.”