Thursday, May 19, 2011

HSC 1937 style

While going through some papers the other day I cam across the Leaving Certificate (the equivalent of the HSC) Latin Exam from 1937. It's interesting to see what has and hasn't changed. Back then there was some Livy to translate and comment upon, some Horace as well for the 'Higher Standard' (i.e. extension), and a longish translation from English into Latin for everyone.

Horace is still set as an extension text (Lyric Poetry last year, Satire this year), and Livy will be next year's year 12 prose text as well. And hardly anyone does prose composition any more (it is an option in the Extension exam - most years it is attempted by at most one or two candidates out of a hundred or so).

The most remarkable thing is, I think, that a three hour paper can fit on three A5 pages!


weavingsandunpickings said...

Thanks for this - it's fascinating. I think most modern UK A-level students would find it pretty tough going. They could certainly do the Latin to English translations, but would find the 'explanatory notes' questions quite hard, because increasingly little time is spent on the details of grammar, syntax and even style at A-level today. Meanwhile, I don't think they do any scansion, and they certainly don't attempt English into Latin! So questions 6 and 7 would really fox them. Indeed, I think most final-year University students would be quite challenged by this paper today.

jm said...

yes, my students would find it pretty hard too. we still do scansion of the hexameter, although in the final exam it accounts for (usually) two marks out of a hundred, so not every student bothers to learn it in depth. if you're interested in seeing how it's done here in Australia (at least in NSW) these days, you can find a copy of last year's exams here.

keenerclassics said...

I'm going to test my A-level students on this on Monday, and see how they get on. The English to Latin would be beyond them, I think, and the scansion should be just about do-able (although it's not hexameter...). Very interesting; thanks for posting.