O-Level Latin Examinations, Vintage 1979

Since I’ve just finished marking all my repeat examinations, and examinations are in the news for other reasons, I thought I’d fish out one of the GCE O-level examinations that I took way back in 1979 when I was 16. I have from time to time posted examinations in Mathematics and Science subjects at both O-level and A-level, but I thought it would be fun to share something quite different. In fact my best mark at O-level was in Latin. Latin was a compulsory subject at my (old-fashioned) Grammar School, by the way.

The first of the two Latin exams was basically about the language, and involved unseen translation and comprehension tests. The second involved parts of two set books. We did Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid, a verse epic in strict hexameter, and Book V of Caesar’s Gallic Wars De Bello Gallico. These formed Sections A and B of the same examination although they appear as separate papers. The bit of the Aeneid we did included the Trojan Horse (actually Greek Horse, obviously) and the famous line `Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’…

The GCE O-levels were replaced by GCSEs a few years after I did mine and I’m not sure how many people do Latin at GCSE these days (or indeed at Leaving Certificate) but I’d be interested in any comments on how these exams compare with modern ones!

3 Responses to “O-Level Latin Examinations, Vintage 1979”

  1. Roger Butler Says:

    My Latin career predates yours by 15 years. I sat O level in 1964 and A level in 1966. Coincidentally we had the same set books as you did ! I have recently joined a Latin group of the local U3A (University of the Third Age). Having not actively studied Latin for 54 years I was amazed that I simply sailed through last year’s GCSE paper. Somehow a switch clicked and I was back in grammar school. I must have had a brilliant teacher – I really did.
    My other A levels were Music and Pure Maths and Applied Maths.
    I have found the maths most useful throughout my career as a music academic and composer.

  2. Latin was also compulsory at my grammar school, but only until 3rd year. Your post brought back memories as my first ever class at grammar school (in 1968) was a Latin class. We conjugated Amo.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Freeware: Beware of Geeks bearing gifts.

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