Certamen is a game of fast recall of facts about classical civilizations and its peoples, languages, and cultures. The matches are supposed to be fun, competitive, and informative. A round of Certamen are usually 20 questions, although preliminary rounds at WJCL state convention have only 15. In novice and intermediate Certamen, 50% of questions are related to the Latin language and syntax, 25% of questions are related to Roman history, and 25% are related to Roman and Greek mythology. In advanced Certamen, the layout of questions is similar, but there are 4 questions related to Latin literature.
How do I study for Certamen?
There are four main categories, and by studying the resources on this website, one should be fairly confident that they will do well in Certamen. The other good way to study Certamen is simply by playing it. Through playing Certamen, players can get a better understanding of the common kinds of questions that occur in a round. The following resources are by no means comprehensive, but should be very useful. There are many resources listed, if there are any questions, email Tech@wjcl.org
Roman History goes from the years 753 BC until 476 A.D and makes up 20-25% of all questions and is your Tech Coordinator's favorite category.
Cary and Scullard - This is a textbook that covers the history of Rome in more than 500 pages. It is extremely dense and should be used by strong intermediates, and advanced players only. It is the main source for the NJCL certamen and every guide is in some way based off of this book
Connor Harrison's History Guide- Connor Harrison's notes are a detailed, 46 page summary of the important events in Roman history. These notes are perhaps the most useful study guide to Roman history, however it is not an NJCL source, and harder intermediate and advanced questions are not in the guide, as well as opening hooks for more difficult questions
Ketan's Empire- An additional guide to Ketan's monarchy and republic guide
A Brief History of Rome - A brief history of Rome is perfect for those who want to start to learn Roman history. It's a 26 page packet, however, there is little information in it. It includes the basics and is perfect for those playing novice Certamen. Basic guide of Roman culture- A guide with some history, but mostly explains Roman culture, good for novice players.
List of notable Roman Laws- a half page list of important Roman laws, knowing this list will help immensely because laws are often asked
List of Roman Battles- a 9 page list of nearly every battle that occurs in Roman history along with a detailed description of the battles, this should be used as an advanced resource as it is very comprehensive
Kyle's Late Empire Guide- Connor Harrison and Ketan, are amazing guides to Roman history, but they lack extreme detail towards the end of the Roman empire. This guide, through reading Heichelheim and Yeo (A textbook about Roman History), was created to fill this gap. It should only be studied by advanced players because the notes include details that will mostly never come up, and is very unorganized.
Year by Year 1st Punic War Guide - Many times, while studying the Punic wars, a historian will forget the stories that connect the facts. The point of this guide is not to add difficult and obscure facts (if one wants this, they should study Ketan's guide to Roman history and memorize fact upon fact), but instead to give a historian a better understanding of the Punic wars. It was written based off of Cary and Scullard and is organized year by year, starting from 264 BC, and ending in 241 BC. The map in the guide, though very basic, gives historians a true understand of the first Punic war.
Latin grammar makes up 50 percent of all questions asked in Certamen and is of no doubt of very high importance. There are many aspects to grammar such as vocabulary, syntax, derivatives, mottoes, and translations, so there will be many resources for Latin grammar. Vocabulary will be listed first because without sufficient knowledge of vocabulary, it is difficult to play Certamen as a grammarian.
NJCL Certamen vocabulary- The best resource for studying vocabulary. There are three different levels of vocab which means that novices can study easier vocab, while advanced players can study the advanced section.
Core Novice Vocabulary- Memorization of this short vocabulary list would essentially guarantee that a novice Certamen player would have the necessary knowledge of vocabulary
Compendium of Latin Grammar - A 64 page compendium of Latin grammar. It is perhaps one of the most useful guide for novice and intermediate players
Beggarly Elements- A grammar guide with a lot of worksheets and other materials which will help the grammarian practice
Alan and Greenoughs sparknoted- A shortened version of the 500 page grammar guide of Alan and Greenoughs. Although Alan and Greenoughs is the main source, studying a shortened version of the lengthy book will allow players to have the necessary knowledge to play Certamen
Alan and Greenoughs New Latin Grammar- This grammar guide is a 509 page guide to the study of latin grammar. It is comprehensive and if it were to be memorized, one would be able to get 100% of syntax related questions. It is very hard to read and has many footnotes. It was taken from Rossview latin's website
Novice and Intermediate myth resources - A somewhat detailed, 40 page guide to classical mythology. If one wants to rapidly improve their knowledge of mythology, studying this guide would help immensely. The creator of this guide, Amol Punjabi, is a three time national champion
Greek Mythology 1000 questions- 1,000 questions related to mythology pulled from Apollodorus' library. The answers are not given. The best way to study this guide is to go through Apollodorus' library and write down the answers to the questions
Abhi Goyal's Morford Notes- Abhi Goyal's 15 page notes on Morford are very useful for studying mythology and understanding the basics
Abhi Goyal's Metamorphoses Notes- Notes made by Abhi Goyal on the Metamorphoses Edward Tripp's Mythology - more than 600 pages of pure information concerning mythology. This book is an A through Z dictionary and is comprehensive. If this guide were memorized, every question would be known. Best used by advanced players, however, intermediate and novice players can use this as a reference. Found on the Flint Hill Certamen website.
A List of Important Authors- According to the guide, "this outline is meant for the advanced Certamen player or academic contest enthusiast who is specialized in and already has a vast working knowledge of Latin Literature. It should be used as a quick reference for simple information on authors and their works."