Latin Study Guide

  • Target your studying to what is likely to be tested. If your teacher gave you a test outline, be sure to use it. Otherwise, ask yourself, have you been focusing on translation, vocabulary, or forms in class? Different techniques apply to studying for these three areas of Latin. Knowing what to expect is the first step to doing well.
  • Use flash cards to learn vocabulary. (Find more specific instructions about making and using Latin vocabulary cards here.) Make sure that you not only learn the meaning of the word, but any grammatical information associated with it. Shuffle and reshuffle your vocab cards so that you really learn the words, not just the order you’re looking at them.
  • Use flash cards to prioritize your vocabulary. Some words just come up more than others. If you are studying for a test that will be heavy in translation, it usually doesn’t make sense to spend time learning every single word you might encounter. Focus on:
    1. Words that you might not be able to figure out from context, like prepositions, conjunctions, and adverbs. Knowing these “little words” helps a lot when encountering an unfamiliar (or even a familiar) passage, and not knowing them can be deadly for reading at sight.
    2. Words that the author you are studying seems to like to use a lot, or that are thematically important to what you are reading. This may be tough to spot at the beginning of a semester, but once you’ve gotten into the swing of things with an author it should be fairly easy to recognize.
  • Think about vocabulary as you are reading. If you’re prepping for a translation-heavy test, chances are there is another one in your future. Between tests, keep track of the words you look up in your dictionary or glossary. If you notice there is one (or a few) words you always seem to forget, put a dot next to the entry in your dictionary (use a pencil to be nicer to your books). Once you’ve accumulated three dots, get out your index cards and make one. This way you stay on top of vocabulary and avoid that sinking feeling in your stomach when you encounter these problem words on tests.

If you are studying for a national standardized test, older versions and answer keys are usually available to use as study guides. Make sure you study what will be covered on the test, and don’t spend time on grammar, vocabulary or reading that is outside of the test’s scope.

Individualized online tutoring can help you study, whether you are preparing for an in-class test or a national exam. Email for a free consultation session to get personalized tips about what study methods might work best for you.