March 26, 2004
Antoine Clarke takes some more exams

A Brian's Friday is drawing to a close, and my speaker, Antoine Clarke, who was, as always, most eloquent, is rambling to me about education while he makes himself a cup of tea.

antoine.jpgAntoine tells me that he has just been visiting the Friends Reunited website, and they have ancient tests up there which you can take. Old 11+ exams, and GCSEs, but not O or A levels.

Antoine tried all the papers they had. The 11+ paper dated from the late 1940s. The GCSE paper was about 1990. The subjects, for 11+ were: verbal reasoning, maths, and science; and for GCSE they were: maths, physics and biology.

His worst score was verbal reasoning for the 11+, and his worst score in the GCSE was 80 per cent, which was in maths. Antoine is bi-lingual in English and French and has taken numerous exams in French as well as in English, and he says he has never gained a "pass" score in a French maths exam.

Looking at the standard of the exams generally, he thought that the GCSE would have been tough for his year at school when he was ten, but that most of his mates would have passed at any time after that.

His conclusion is that the modern English GCSE exam is primary school standard for the 1970s, and doesn't compare at all with the 1940s 11+.

In short, dumbing down is no myth.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:55 PM
Category: Examinations and qualificationsHistory