You're probably thinking about taking AP Latin, but have some reservations because you're not sure about what exactly it will entail. Don't worry! This guide will hopefully help provide you with some of the information that will help you decide whether AP Latin is the right fit for you!
AP Latin is a course that is much different from other AP Language courses that you may have heard about or taken. Rather than focusing on communication through speaking, reading, listening, and writing, the AP Latin is all about developing a deep understanding of Roman literature, culture, and history.
This is all done through two texts: Julius Caesar's The Gallic Wars (Bellum Gallicum), which is an autobiographical account of Caesar's conquest of France, and Vergil's epic poem the Aeneid, which tells the famous myth/legend of Aeneas and his journey to found the city of Rome.
Throughout the year, you will translate some passages of these two works, as well as read some portions of the English translations. In addition, you will learn about the history and Roman culture surrounding these.
So, as you can see, AP Latin is more about developing your scholarly skills than your communication class. In a class, this typically means a regular rhythm of translation, grammatical study, and historical learning, so be prepared to be studying with a regular rhythm, rather than a more project-based, immersed environment that might occur in another AP Language.
Don't have to worry about spoken or listening components
Regular workflow and rhythm
No skill gap for native vs. non-native speakers
More certain of exam content — less likely to get thrown off by a bad prompt
Heavy grammar focus
Has many different components to learn the format of
Focuses mostly on reading, which could be a con if you are not a fan of that part of learning a language.
There are a few reasons why this course could be worth it for you:
Knowledge/Interest 🧠: If you enjoy the Latin language, this course is an excellent introduction to the world of actual Latin scholarship through translating some of the most famous Latin texts, as well as learning about the history and culture surrounding it.
Credit 🎓: This course could fulfill the foreign language requirement if your prospective college has that requirement — so definitely look into it if you are looking to not take a language class in college or want to place into a higher-level course to continue studying Latin as a major or minor. By taking the Latin exam, you can show that you are interested in learning the language and have to take fewer classes until you get to interesting material in college!
Demonstrating Proficiency 🧗: In many cases, the AP exam is a good indication of your mastery of the Latin language. So, if you want something tangible to demonstrate that you have a command of the language, whether you are native or learning it, this could be the class for you!
Of course, the decision is all up to you. By taking AP Latin, you can further your study of a language that is the foundation for a number of modern European languages and the basis for a considerable amount of technical terminology. In addition, by learning the intricacies of Latin grammar, you can have a greater mastery of English grammar and become a much more nuanced and improved writer in English.
However, AP Latin is not without its drawbacks — there is a considerable workload and, if you don't like translation or find it a bit of a struggle, it might be a sizable challenge for you. In addition, if you don't plan on studying Latin in the future, it might not serve much practical value for you.
We hope this guide has helped answer your questions, and that you can make the best decision for you about whether to take AP Latin. You got this 🎉