Archive for O-level

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.

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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.

An O-level Physics Examination Paper, Vintage 1979

Posted in Education with tags , , , , on August 30, 2011 by telescoper

My recent post about the O-level Mathematics examination I took way back in 1979 seems to have generated quite a lot of comment, both here and elsewhere, so I thought I’d follow it up with a Physics examination paper to see what people think about that.

One complication with this is that I didn’t actually take Physics O-level; the School I went to preferred to offer Combined Science instead. This examination covered a general syllabus including Physics, Chemistry and Biology but was worth two O-levels rather than three. More or less, therefore, I did 2/3 of a Physics O-level.

I think the reason for choosing Combined Science rather than three separate subjects was to allow us kids the chance to take as broad a range of subjects as possible. In fact I did ten O-levels: Combined Science (2); Mathematics; Additional Mathematics; History; Geography; English Literature; English Language; French; and Latin. My best mark at O-level was in neither mathematics nor science subjects, actually, but in Latin…

Anyway, the examination for Combined Science consisted of four papers. Paper 1 was a general paper with a range of short questions in a booklet into which candidates had to write their answers in the space provided. Obviously I don’t have this paper because I handed it in. The three other papers were each on one of the main subjects and Paper 2, shown below, was the Physics paper.

This also gives me the opportunity to try out slideshare as a better way of displaying the paper than the clumsy method of photographing it on my desk I used for the Mathematics paper.  Unfortunately our temperamental scanner – which is rapidly becoming my arch enemy – seems to have missed some of the question numbers, so I put them in by hand.

The first thing that struck me about Question 5 is “During an experiment a boy obtained…”. Girls don’t do physics, obviously.

Any other comments or comparison with GCSE Physics papers should be written in the space provided.  Write clearly and legibly, and show clearly the reasoning by which you arrive at your conclusions. You may begin.