Guidelines for Translation Exams in Ancient Greek and Latin

(Adopted by a vote of the Department of Classics faculty, February 9, 2005)

All students, regardless of their track (language and literature, ancient history, Mediterranean archaeology), must pass a translation exam. The translation exam is designed to serve a dual function, both to prepare the student for dissertation work and to demonstrate competence in the language. Each student will create a list of authors and texts, composed in consultation with his/her advisers, that addresses the breadth of Greek and Latin literature and supports his or her research interests.

The exam (or, in the case of exams in the language in literature track, exam part) will be two hours long. It will consist of four passages from which the student will be required to translate three. There will be no sight passages.

Two members of the faculty (at least one of which represents the track in which the exam is being given) will grade each exam. The translations should show both a fundamental understanding of the grammar (morphology and syntax) and a familiarity with core vocabulary.

Language and Literature Track:

750 Oxford Classical Texts (OCT) pages, 500 in one language, 250 in the other: texts of ancient Greek and Latin literature.

Students in this track must take a two-part translation exam, each part of which lasts two hours, one in ancient Greek and one in Latin. Each exam part will consist of four passages from which the student must translate three. The Greek and Latin parts of the exam may be taken independently.

Ancient History Track:

500 OCT pages. Texts of Greek and Roman historians and other authors. Ancient Greek and/or Latin inscriptions may be substituted for up to one-fifth of the whole.

Students in this track must take a two-part translation exam, each part of which lasts two hours, one in ancient Greek and one in Latin. Each exam part will consist of four passages from which the student must translate three. The Greek and Latin parts of the exam may be taken independently.

Mediterranean Archaeology Track:

250 OCT pages. Texts of ancient Greek and/or Latin literature. Ancient Greek and/or Latin inscriptions may be substituted for up to one-fifth of the whole.

Students in this track take one exam lasting two hours. Four passages will appear on the exam, and students must translate three. The exam number and arrangement of questions may be adjusted to correspond to the proportion of Greek and Latin on the chosen reading list.

Standard for Passing Exams

(Adopted by a vote of the Department of Classics faculty, September 1, 2010)

Exam Preparation

To the extent possible, faculty should help students make preparation for the ancient language exams a learning experience. Candidates select an examiner and work with that faculty member to shape the reading list. During the preparation process the advisor and candidate should meet as needed to discuss problems in the texts and to prepare and review trial examinations.

Exam Evaluation

Ph.D. students will be deemed to have passed a Greek or Latin language exam when their performance on the exam has met or exceeded the following standard.

The language exams are meant to test not just knowledge of a given text, but command of the Greek or Latin language. Beyond just familiarity with the text, therefore, students must show in their translations a mastery of grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and idiomatic constructions. At a minimum, this means that the student should show a command of substantially all of the above language elements as they are covered in the undergraduate B.A. "Command" means that the student shows a full and flexible knowledge of the relevant information and concepts of the sort required to teach advanced undergraduate courses. “Substantially all” means that examinees may make a small number of substantive errors and still pass.

This standard applies regardless of which track in the Ph.D. curriculum the student is pursuing.

Students will have the opportunity to review the exam with the principal examiner after it has been evaluated. Students wishing to do so should request a meeting with the examiner for this purpose after the exam has been taken and graded.