The exam sets two essay questions and 12 identifications. There will be choice in both categories, but the candidate is reminded to demonstrate breadth and depth overall.
In preparing for the essays, consider the development of the genres and how individual authors have shaped the conventions both innovating and responding to literary models. Know the literary arsenal: Be able to talk intelligently about, e.g., allusion and verbal echoes, meter and rhetorical figures, annalistic and tragic history, epic and colloquial diction. Be as familiar with the historical contexts of authors and works: when were they written? what was happening in Roman history at the time? In what ways does the literature participate in Roman social and political life? Think in terms of what you will want to be able to share with your students when you teach these authors.
As with all essay exams, it is useful to prepare outlines in advance. E.g. how would I answer a question on satire or historiography? Marshal your ideas and your examples. Write up some sample thesis statements. Although you may not bring any notes or materials to the exam, this advance work will help you on the day of the exam.
Identifications will be drawn from the lists below. In a sentence or two or three, be able to report the who, when, where, and why for each. For authors, know something about what they wrote. Be sure to know why each item is significant for Roman literature, and remember that there may be more than one significant context for each. For example, Marcus Aurelius is of course important as an emperor, but why is he on a literature exam? Any author on the list above may also appear as an identification (boldface in the list below). N.B. These lists are also something of a study guide . . .