I received this question:

We are looking at the National Latin Exam for my two daughters who are taking Latin right now. My older daughter is going through Lingua Latina and should be finished with it (Pars I) by the time of the exam. My younger daughter will be finished with Visual Latin 2. Do you have a recommendation of what level of the NLE would be appropriate for each of them? 

Here is my reply:

The National Latin Exam writers attempt to test all Latin students in America.  This is troublesome since so many students use so many different texts.  

The National Latin Exam is a one size fits all exam.  Unfortunately, not all texts take the same approach.  

The approach of the National Latin Exam and the approach most textbooks take rely heavily on verbs.  In the Latin 1 exam, for example, multiple verb tenses show up.  If a student is working her way through Lingua Latina, for example, this proves troublesome.  In his classic book, Mr. Ørberg doesn’t tackle all the complicated verb tenses until chapter 19, or so.

Since I modeled Visual Latin after Lingua Latina, this proves troublesome for Visual Latin students as well. 

So, here is what I always suggest.  Practice taking the National Latin Exam.  

Students can download all the previous exams right from the National Latin Exam (NLE) site.  Just go to this page: http://nle.org/exams.html

Once there, scroll down until you see:

PREVIOUS EXAMS and Keys OnlineCopies of the previous National Latin Exams and Keys can be viewed online with Adobe Acrobat Reader, version 9 or later, and printed for practice.

The answer keys are also available.  This makes it easy to practice.  Gives students instant feedback.  They can see their progress right away.  

If a student has been through Visual Latin and some of Lingua Latina, I’d advise the student to start taking practice exams.  

Start with Introduction to Latin.  If that exam is too easy, simply move up to the next level.  If Latin 1 is too easy, move on to the Latin 2 exam, and so on.  

There are a lot of tests on the NLE site.  A student could easily take one practice exam a day and would not run out of tests for a while.  This is the best way to prepare for the test.  

I did this years ago with the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).  I spent an entire summer taking practice tests.  Then, I took the actual test and did quite well.  After that, I got distracted by a girl, married her, and forgot to go to law school.  Heh.  

Let me know if you need more help.


If you are learning Latin, I have written a book with all of my best tips and strategies.  It’s available as a free download here: https://dwanethomas.com/downloads/via-latin-lost/

If you are interested in learning Latin, you can go through the classes on my site 24/7.  I recommend the book Lingua Latina by Hans Ørberg.  If you tackle the book and find yourself bogged down, you may find the classes on my site helpful.  To join, just click here: https://dwanethomas.com/join/

If you want a more professionally filmed experience, check out the best-selling DVD series: Visual Latin.

Or, if you want to skip Latin, and just jump right into learning English words from Latin and Greek roots, you may enjoy the series Word up!  Warning.   Word up! is a bit wacky.  You will learn a lot… but, you may find yourself rolling your eyes, too.