Archive for GCE O-level

O-Level Latin Examinations, Vintage 1979

Posted in Biographical, Education with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2020 by telescoper

Since I’ve just finished marking all my repeat examinations, and examinations are in the news for other reasons, I thought I’d fish out one of the GCE O-level examinations that I took way back in 1979 when I was 16. I have from time to time posted examinations in Mathematics and Science subjects at both O-level and A-level, but I thought it would be fun to share something quite different. In fact my best mark at O-level was in Latin. Latin was a compulsory subject at my (old-fashioned) Grammar School, by the way.

The first of the two Latin exams was basically about the language, and involved unseen translation and comprehension tests. The second involved parts of two set books. We did Book II of Virgil’s Aeneid, a verse epic in strict hexameter, and Book V of Caesar’s Gallic Wars De Bello Gallico. These formed Sections A and B of the same examination although they appear as separate papers. The bit of the Aeneid we did included the Trojan Horse (actually Greek Horse, obviously) and the famous line `Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes’…

The GCE O-levels were replaced by GCSEs a few years after I did mine and I’m not sure how many people do Latin at GCSE these days (or indeed at Leaving Certificate) but I’d be interested in any comments on how these exams compare with modern ones!

Additional Mathematics O-level 1979

Posted in Biographical, Education, mathematics with tags , , , on July 1, 2019 by telescoper

Yesterday a comment appeared on an old post of mine about the O-level Examination I took in Mathematics when I was at School. With a shock that reminded me that it was FORTY years ago this summer that I was taking my O-levels at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle. That’s a memory lane down which I wasn’t anxious to take a trip.

For any youngsters reading this, the GCE (General Certificate of Education) Ordinary Level Examinations O-levels were taken at age sixteen in the United Kingdom back in the day; they were replaced during the 1980s by the modern GCSE Examination. For readers in Ireland the O-levels were roughly equivalent to the Junior Certificate, just as A-levels are roughly equivalent to the Leaving Certificate.

Anyway, that also reminded me that I never got round to posting the other O-level I took in Mathematics that summer, in Additional Mathematics. I thought I’d remedy that failing now, so here are the two papers I took (on Tuesday 26 June 1979 and Thursday 5 July respectively.

I had forgotten that there was so much mechanics in this actually (Section C of each paper). Is that different from equivalent papers nowadays? In fact I’d be interested in comments about the content and level of difficulty of this compared to modern examinations in mathematics via the box below.

P.S. I did ten O-levels that summer of ’79: Mathematics; Additional Mathematics; Combined Science (2); English Language; English Literature; French; Latin; History; and Geography. I still have all the papers and have only posted a subset. If anyone has requests for any others please let me know and I’ll scan them.