Sonechka's Ultimate Guide to GCSE LatinWatch
Well done for choosing what is officially the most awesome GCSE subject now comes the slightly harder part...succeeding in it! I'm an A-level Latin student and I recently got an A* in my GCSE, so I thought I would share a few tips which helped me on my way. If you have any more questions or need some guidance, I’ll be happy to help you out
There’s one more really important vocab tip which I wish I’d known: words like nam, etiam, idem...basically all the short, easily-missed connectives and modifiers are so, so crucial to learn! This is because missing out a word counts as a "major error" and will lose you a mark, and also because these words can quite drastically change the sense of a sentence. Make sure you pay particular attention to ensuring that you know all the shorter words on your vocab list, not just the big fancy nouns and verbs. :P
As for the rest of the grammar, you don’t necessarily have to sit around memorising tables (I never did, mainly because I pretty much only learn by actually practising translation), but knowing your cases and conjugation will come in useful. Just try to practise as much as you can and make sure you recognise the telltale signs of certain grammatical constructions, e.g. indirect statements having an accusative and an infinitive, a weirdly-placed ablative indicating an ablative absolute and so on.
There are certain things you’ll need to look out for in literature “essay” (8-/10-mark) questions, which depend on whether the question is a style or a content question, i.e. whether it is asking you to explore how the writer uses language to convey an idea or how the content of the piece of writing – what the piece is actually describing and what happens in it – conveys an idea. In style questions, you need to talk about how certain linguistic techniques (imagery/similes/metaphors, phonetic techniques like sibilance and alliteration etc.), the choices of words (vocabulary with certain connotations, perhaps the use of a certain tense, voice or mood) and the positioning of words (e.g. words at the start or end of a line in a poem are “emphatically positioned”, due to how the poem would have been read out loud) create excitement/fear/any other impression of the scene as a whole or a character in it. Content questions focus more on what happens than on how it is described, and do not require you to quote or analyse the Latin; the meaning of the Latin is more important than these. Make sure to structure both style and content questions clearly, with a short introduction and conclusion which respectively lay out and summarise what you cover in the body of the essay.
There are also some shorter questions in your literature paper. There are no fancy techniques for these – all you need to do is make sure you know your texts like the back of your hand so that you can translate them perfectly and answer factual questions. This is a bit of a slog, but it’s essentially rote-learning/memorisation, so you can do whatever helps you personally to memorise things.
Hey I was wondering how to translate latin when there are adjectives in a sentence. For example I always place the description on the wrong person such as 'Caecilius announced happily to the citizens' when in fact the real answer is 'Caecilius announced to the happy citizens'.Also how do you figure out word order when it is a really complex sentence, I can never figure out which word goes with which person or thing.
..yes, and i love it! i was simply wishing you luck with doing latin alongside your other a-levels, and that you're able to enjoy it and not find it too stressful since you're teaching yourself rather than being a member of a class.
Thanks! I heard it's one of the hardest GCSEs and is only taught in a few and exclusive schools. I've been looking at the syllabus and thinking of going with prose literature B and verse literature A for the optional components. I'm guessing it helps a lot if you have a teacher?
it can help if you have a teacher, for advice and extra insight into the literature texts, and being in a class under a teacher can help when people want to pool their knowledge together and structure it into responses to a question. however, the gcse is possible without one if you immerse yourself in your texts and keep a sharp memory of your vocab. there are online resources, both official and unofficial, to help you learn, and you're always welcome to ask around on this website!
with that said, we have the same literature options (assuming that you'll be taking the gcse this year or the next); i have gained some experience of studying the texts, and shall soon gain some experience of taking the exams for those texts, so don't hesitate to ask for tips if you need them