Monday, November 12, 2007

Extension exam

My (former) year twelve students sat their Latin extension paper on Friday morning, along with about a hundred other students around the state. I thought it was quite a tricky paper- and from what I can gather so did they.

The extended response question asked students to analyse jut one passage of Cicero, rather than to compare a passage from each of the two authors they had studied.

"Analyse the development of Cicero's argument in this extract, evaluating his use of language and imagery, as well as features typical of Latin philosophical writing."

That's not completely unusual, though over the past few years the essay questions have tended towards comparison. Only having one passage to write about limits the amount you can write to some extent, but there was quite a lot to discuss from the passage, and of course answering the question proprely is more important than how much you can write.

I thought the unseen (from Lucretius) was also pretty hard. It was on the long side for starters (10 lines; the syllabus specifies unseens should be between 8-10 lines. Last years was 9 lines, the year before 8), and there were a couple of bits it seems even the exam committee thought would be difficult, as they gave a translation (rather than a dictionary definition) for them in the vocab.

Students were also asked to identify an example each of chiasmus and antithesis from the passage. Both terms are listed in the syllabus, and so are, I suppose, fair game- though I'd be surprised if many students knew antithesis- it's not something that came up much as we read the set texts. The best students would (I hope) have been able to work out that they were looking for some kind of contrast. Literary analysis is important, but I think this was a bit of a mean question - testing English vocabulary rather than the ability to analyse a passage of Latin. At least they were only worth one mark each.


Teenage Kicks said...

So, by the logic of that pattern (8 - '05, 9 - '06, 10 - '07), our unseen is going to be 8 lines?


And... um... my question about the Catullus essay...?

Mike Salter said...

I thought the antithesis/chiasmus question was a bit rough too, although my guys didn't seem to have too much of a problem with it.

The Cicero extended response question was OK I guess, although I would've preferred some Lucretius in that question!