Archive for English Language

English SATs Questions for Year 6 – Could you answer them?

Posted in Education, Pedantry with tags , , on May 16, 2019 by telescoper

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not averse to a bit of pedantry now and again and, in contrast to many of my colleagues, I actually find grammar quite interesting. I was however quite shocked to see these questions (shared on Facebook by a concerned parent). They appear on the Standard Attainment Test (SAT) for taken by her son, who is in Year 6.

I think they’re ridiculous. I wonder how many of you could answer these five sample questions correctly without looking things up on the web? I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do them all at age 11! More to the point, who* decided that the names of grammatical structures should be deemed so important?

Far better, in my opinion, to concentrate on cultivating a love of reading.

*It was Michael Gove.


Circle the relative pronoun in the sentence below.

“It’s too rainy for the picnic today, which is a shame.”


Circle all the determiners in the sentence below.

“The man’s hair was very long, so my uncle cut it using a pair of the clippers he owns.”


Underline the subordinate clause in this sentence.

“I don’t need a school dinner today because I have brought sandwiches.”


Circle the modal verb in this sentence:

“If I can leave early, I would like to meet Anna at the park, as she said she might be there.”


Tick one box to show whether the word ‘before’ is used as a preposition or a subordinating conjunction:

“We left the cinema before the film had ended.”

“Simon finished before Paul in the race.”

“Train tickets are often cheaper before 9am.”




English Language O Level, Vintage 1979

Posted in Education with tags , , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by telescoper

Judging by the furore surrounding the last-minute marking down of GCSE English Language examinations this year, I thought it might be interesting to put the old scanner to work and show you the English Language examinations I took at age 16, way back in 1979. In those days the GCSE hadn’t been invented yet, and instead we had two different systems GCE  O Level (which I took) and CSE. Anyway, these be the papers what I sat.

The one thing that surprises me a little in retrospect is the considerable emphasis on poetry in the second paper, which I now think would belong more in an English Literature paper. However, there’s no doubt that my schooldays instilled in me a lifelong love of poetry and for that I won’t complain at all…

I’d be very interested in any comments about the difference in style and content between these and modern-day GCSE English Language.

P.S. If you’re wondering what happened to Page 2 of Paper 1, it’s completely blank so I didn’t scan it.