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Funny? It's Plautus

This year's Higher paper made no unfair demands on candidates, according to Iain Macleod, who teaches classics at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow.

In the first part of the exam - an interpretation of a prepared text - candidates must answer the question on Cicero (below). Then they can choose between passages by Virgil or Plautus.

Mr Macleod's pupils study Cicero and Virgil and encountered no real problem. "The questions were reasonable," he said, although he was surprised by a part of question 1 on the Virgil passage, which asked: "Are you surprised by his personality?"

"I must admit, it was something I did not look at myself, but pupils elsewhere may well have done," he said.

The essays were generous, leaving pupils plenty of scope to show their knowledge.

Having checked with a colleague in another school who teaches the Plautus part of the syllabus, he reports that that particular question was also reasonable.

He makes one "pernickety" point regarding question 3d, which awards three marks for "what makes these lines funny?"

"I wondered whether kids would get the full variety of three marks' worth - whether they could really explain it or would just answer that there are 'lots of funny words'," said Mr Macleod.

The second part of the exam - a translation at first sight of 16 lines of a Cicero passage where he attacks a man called Verres - was "a bit more demanding" than in the past year or two, he said, although on checking it through, he found it less so. It may have been because the content matter was a little more difficult than previous exam papers, he suggested.

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