Bronx Science Sweeps the National Latin Exam with 97 Winners!

The Secrets Behind Science’s Annual Success


Payel Islam

Maeve Hogan ’19 received a summa cum laude award for her performance on the National Latin Exam this year.

For Bronx Science students, it is typical to excel at everything. So, having 97 National Latin Exam (NLE) winners is not a surprise at all. In fact, Bronx Science students win this awards, and even more, for the National Latin Exam every year. Last year, 142 Bronx Science students won awards and the year before that, 150 students won awards!

Many students have even won multiple awards for their performance on the National Latin Exam from taking it for several years. There are four awards that students could have received. The best award is the “summa cum laude” award, which is equivalent to a gold medal for the NLE exam. The subsequent awards are “maxima cum laude,” “magna cum laude,” and “cum laude,” in decreasing order of praise.

So, what is the secret behind being successful on the National Latin Exam? Many students attribute their success to their teachers, Ms. Arcidiacono and Mr. Robinson.  Summa cum laude recipient, Maeve Hogan ’19 said, “It’s not too difficult of an exam, and there are many levels of awards available. However, without the teachers we have, we would not be able to understand anything. My teacher has been incredibly helpful all year, and I’ve learned so much in her class.”

Other students agree. “The reason why I think I love Latin so much is because of Ms.Arcidiacono. She sparked my interest in Latin by creating a variety of diverse and fun activities that really helped me to grasp the concepts. She always reiterated the concepts to me if I was having trouble grasping them and was, in general, such a nice and patient teacher,” says Summa Cum Laude recipient Chris Yeung ’19. “I personally tried my hardest on the Latin exam because I wanted to show my teachers that I’ve been paying attention in class and wanted them to feel proud about themselves for being such great teachers.”

Another attribute that contributed to their success has been the many activities that the students partook in during class. The students say that they did not really study for the exam but learned Latin really well from reading prose and myths written by actual Romans and playing games such as Kahoot, an online quiz where students compete against each other. “Seeing the entire class in a competitive atmosphere really drives me to do even better in Latin,” said Yeung.

Moreover, students have been able to connect Latin to many other languages and use it outside of class. For example, another summa cum laude recipient, Emma Banos ’20, was able to connect Latin to Italian. “Italian helped me score a point on the NLE. I hadn’t learned what ‘posse’ meant in Latin, but I did know ‘potere’ in Italian which means ‘to be able to,’ and that sounds remarkably similar to the conjugation ‘poterat,’” Banos said. Realizing the relationship between these two languages, Banos was able to get the question correct on the test.

Students are also able to relate Latin to English often times as well. “Many words in English have Latin roots, some of which we discuss in class. This teaches me new English words, and helps me figure out unfamiliar words when I’m reading,” said Hogan. Hogan also remarks that because her sister and her two parents also know Latin, it often comes up in family conversations.

“No exam is an easy exam if you haven’t been taught what’s in it!”

“Whenever I see unfamiliar words in English, I would pronounce them similar to how you would pronounce them in Latin. I also like to pronounce my friends’ name the way that it would be pronounced in Latin, too,” said Yeung.

Another summa cum laude recipient, David Carter ’18, also uses Latin to help him with other languages. “Occasionally, Latin will help me guess the definition of an English word, but often Latin-English derivatives have confusing relationships. What Latin has helped me a lot more with is guessing what words mean in other languages, like Spanish,” he said.

Overall, the Bronx Science Latin teachers have done a remarkably good job preparing their students for the National Latin Exam. Being able to connect Latin to other languages, grammar, rhetoric, and even history has benefited their students’ pursuits in learning Latin and has helped them to ace the test. Although our students find the test to be rather easy, this is because they feel so well prepared. After all, “No exam is an easy exam if you haven’t been taught what’s in it!” said Banos.