Archive for Oxford and Cambridge Examination Board

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.

An O-Level History Examination from 1979

Posted in Biographical, Education, History with tags , , , , on April 18, 2018 by telescoper

I have in the past posted a few examples of the O- and A-level examinations I took when I was at school. These have been mainly science and mathematics papers as those are relevant to the area of higher education in which I work, and I thought they might be of interest to students past and present.

A few people have emailed me recently to ask if I could share any other examinations, so here are the two History papers I took for O-level in June/July 1979. Can that really have been almost 40 years ago?

These were Papers 5 and 12 out of an unknown number of possible papers chosen by schools. My school taught us exclusively about British and European history from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries; you will observe that in both cases `history’ was deemed to have ended in 1914. It’s possible that some of the other papers paid more attention to the wider world.

I have no idea what modern GCSE history examinations look like, but I’d be interested in any comments from people who do about the style and content!

A-Level Further Mathematics Examination, 1981

Posted in Education with tags , , on October 24, 2011 by telescoper

I’ve been forcibly evicted from my office this afternoon while a highly-trained operative of Cardiff University’s esteemed Estates Department replaces a broken window. It’s been broken since I moved into the office, about four years ago, by the way, but you can’t rush these things. Anyway, having been forced to change location I took the opportunity to decamp to the upstairs computer room wherein our departmental scanner resides and occupied myself with the task of scanning in yet another of the old examinations I took when I was in school. This one is the Further Mathematics examination, consisting of two papers each of three hours’ duration: Paper 1 is entirely Pure Mathematics; Paper 2 contains a mixture of Pure and Applied Mathematics, and Statistics.

Looking back on the paper now, thirty years after I first saw it, it seems to me that the Applied Mathematics questions (6-11 on Paper 2) actually look quite tough by the standard of 1st year undergraduate examinations in mechanics. However, I’ll leave it to you to comment on whether you think it’s harder, or easier, or about the same, compared to current A-levels in Further Mathematics. I’d also be interested in knowing whether there’s anything on these papers that isn’t on the syllabus nowadays.

The comments box awaits…