BEFORE YOU START, HOWEVER...
CONSIDER THIS EXAMPLE:
QU. 1 Title: "A young hero sets out to punish his wicked uncle."
This has enough detail maybe to ring a bell in your mind, but at this stage you shouldn't jump to any rash conclusions...
QU. 2 Title: "On the road to Iolcus, the hero wins the favour of the goddess Juno."
Now you have some extra clues that may help you to decide which story it is, and have also been given the names of a place and a person.
ALWAYS WRITE NAMES USING THE SPELLING AS YOU SEE IT IN THE TITLES.
...O.K. - it's probably all right to change a Latin spelling to one which has a common English equivalent (no-one will mind, e.g., if you change 'Creta' to 'Crete'),but only do this if you are sure you have the correct name with the correct alternative spelling.
Incidently, this particular title should prevent you from confusing the name of the goddess with some unknown verb in the 1st pers. singular...I've known that happen!
QU. 3 Title: "Caught off his guard, Jason is tricked by Pelias into taking on a dangerous quest."
If you hadn't already guessed, you now know for sure that you are dealing with an early part of the story of Jason & the Golden Fleece. You can approach the answers to Qu. 1 (and of course Qu. 2) with this knowledge in mind: for example, if you know the story, it would be a bad idea to answer one of the parts of Qu. 1 by guessing that "punish" in the first title means "kill" straight away. There are many adventures in the story to go before Jason gets round to that!
You have also now been given the name of Jason's uncle; this could also save some time battling with the details of Qu. 1.
ONE POINT TO BEAR IN MIND: do not 'take for granted' that the exact version of the story that you know is the one they will use. There are many variations to Mythology tales, in particular; never assume you know what is going to happen, without properly checking the actual Latin first as well.
FIRSTLY - do not be fooled by the 'comprehension' label! This question is as much a test of your translating ability as is Question 2.
In fact, I would advise you to look upon Question 1 as largely a VOCAB TEST. If you can identify and translate the key words that the individual questions are directing you to look for, you will score very highly on this part of the paper.
Make sure then that you know as many as possible of the vocab words for your Level - now may be the time to go back to the Vocab pages on this site and test yourself!
(N.B. This passage is mostly pitched at Level 1, with a couple of fairly easy level 2 words thrown in. The style of the questions is common to all 3 levels. I have used the old format for the questions below, rather than re-writing each relevant sentence along with each question.)
Now try to answer these questions yourself. When you have decided what you want to say, highlight with your cursor the lines of the relevant letters below to reveal whether you are right! You can then read about how making use of the TOP TIPS would have led you to these answers.
Did you score 15 out of 15?
1. READ THE QUESTIONS FIRST:
Few people would disagree with this! It will probably take you no more than a minute, and can once again give you extra clues about the general outline of the story and the characters' names (spelling!).
2. ANSWER WITH CLOSE REFERENCE TO THE WORDS THEY PRINT FOR EACH QUESTION:
Now that you have to write your answers onto the actual question paper (new from 2013),they always print out for you the relevant part of the passage where you can find the answer. Your answer must refer as closely as possible to these words: the more of them that you can translate accurately, the more likely you are to score the marks on offer (see next tip!)
It will not usually be necessary to look elsewhere in the passage - or to add extra information of your own - all the information will be in the words they print for you.
Watch out for one pitfall, however: since the new format of the paper was introduced in 2013, there were words underlined and given to you in the main complete passage which they did not underline again in the individual questions. Always check back to the full passage to see if there is any extra vocab help.
In the 2014 paper this rather annoying inconsistency had not been addressed, so the above advice is likely to continue to be useful in years to come.
* UPDATE 2017*
Finally, the exam board has started to underline the supplied vocab from the complete passage in the individual questions as well...!
VDB of course claims no credit for this whatsoever....but, you never know...
3. LOOK AT THE MARKS AVAILABLE:
Look at some of the questions above to see how this works.
1 mark: e.g. qu. b) - the one mark is obviously for translating the one word 'malus'. Compare qu's a) "mortuus" and h) "videre". But beware of questions like d) - don't forget to write the Latin word first as well: there may not be a separate mark for it, but if you leave it out it will cost you the one mark that is on offer!
2 marks: this generally means you must translate two vocab words, e.g. qu. g) "diu exspectabat". Sometimes they guide you more clearly, as in qu. e): "2+2 marks" separates the two actions "Aesonem cepit" and "filias necavit".
3 marks: question f) is the hardest one here, because they are asking you to show grammar knowledge as well as translating the vocab. Tough markers might only give you 1 mark for saying "A slave helped him"; 2 marks for "A GOOD slave helped him" - even though you have now given the sense of 3 words! To be sure of scoring all 3 marks, you need to show you understand the meaning of the case endings:
"auxilio.." (abl. case) - WITH the help (auxilium is a noun); "..servi boni" (gen. case) - OF a good slave.
The actual wording of the questions can sometimes supply a clue as to what you need to look for as the answer.
"How is (he/she/it) described...?" - they are most probably asking you to find an adjective.
"Why did (so-and-so do something)...? - look for a sentence or clause that begins with the giveaway word "quod" - "because..."
"What did (so-and-so) do...?" - your answer must be based around translating a verb.