National Classical Etymology Exam Preparation

At least 50 percent of the questions on the NCEE will come from words or items on this list. Please make use of it as you see fit.

NCEE Question Overview

For the most part, any student who has studied or practiced for SAT-style vocabulary will be well prepared for this examination and for all general standardized tests of the English language. It is recommended that students first familiarize themselves with the practice exam to get a feel for how the Quia system functions and to understand what types of questions are asked. These should both be relatively straightforward.

Take the Past NCEEs

For each of these exams, you will have 45 minutes to complete the questions, and your results will be immediately provided to you when you submit your answers. See link below.

View the Complete Set of Questions and Answers to Past NCEEs

For each exam, there are 100 total questions to view. The statistics will provide you with how many students received each question and the percentages for each of the answers. We use this information to help create and assess the information for the new exam.

2011 NCEE complete statistics HERE

We are proud to announce our new randomized 50-question NCEE practice system

Click HERE to practice using our new question bank

Questions have been pulled from bank of numerous past written exams

Follows the general format and question distribution of the NCEE

No two quizzes will be the same. All are pulled at random from the categories.

Latin Derivatives (16 easy, 15 medium, 7 difficult)

Greek Derivatives (6 easy, 4 medium, 2 difficult)

Additional Practice for Latin and Greek Derivatives

Most high school textbooks do a decent job of introducing students to the basics of English vocabulary and etymology. We also highly recommend that students use the vast wealth of knowledge and resources on the internet. The number of excellent websites has increased so much that it would be impossible either to list them all or for a student to utilize all of their contents. Click on this paragraph to see some of our suggestions.

Each year, the NJCL hosts a convention at a university campus where approximately 1500 high school students compete in various contests. Latin and Greek derivatives are two of the contests which are administered to the students. While these exams will eventually be converted to online content via, you may CLICK HERE to download a PDF containing all the Latin and Greek derivatives tests and answer keys from 2004-2010. Many of these exams have been either written or edited by members of the NCEE committee, and they will provide you or your students with 1,400 questions to practice with.

Key Areas of Study

During the course of study, there are three key areas that any student can utilize in order to greatly increase one's knowledge:

  • Of primary importance is to know the meanings of the English derivatives from Latin and Greek. If, for example, you know that the word "celerity" means "swiftness," then you would know that its antonym is "sluggishness." You might also be able to guess that the Latin word at its root means "swift."
  • Of secondary importance is to know the general meanings of the roots. These are often taught in English and etymology courses, and decent books and on-line websites abound with information about the meanings of the Latin and Greek roots. For example, you might know that the Latin root AUD means "hear" or the Greek root DEKA means "ten," and therefore you would be able to infer that the word "audience" relates to hearing and that a "decathlon" contains ten events.
  • Of tertiary importance is to know the exact roots themselves. For students of Latin and Greek, this will be an easier task. A Latin student might, for example, know that the word "debt" comes from the Latin verb dēbeō, which means "ought" or "owe." A serious student might even know that the Latin verb dēbeō itself derives from the verb habeō, which means "have" or "hold." All of these types of questions are possible on this exam. However, most of the questions will not require a specific knowledge of the Latin or Greek words themselves.

Primary Sources

In order to check the validity of the questions, our NCEE Testing Committee utilizes multiple standard sources. Of prime importance would be the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's English Dictionary. It is recommended that all students download the free Latin-English and Greek-English derivatives dictionaries listed below. They have been graciously donated by Mr. James Greenwald and are quite thorough.

N.B. Items listed as TMRC are available from the Teaching Materials and Resource Center of The American Classical League, Oxford, OH 45056 (

Good luck to all students! We appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication.