English Language O Level, Vintage 1979

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.

2 Responses to “English Language O Level, Vintage 1979”

  1. The model very much resembles those of the exams I took in the ’90s in India.

  2. This is the paper I sat at 16 too….I am going to show this to my boys…I have 4 sons, the youngest just embarking on his GCSEs, the older 3 now well clear of them…..but it would be good to get their evaluation, as I have always been convinced that we had to learn, remember and express more than the modern format of exams expect of students….but we’ll see 🙂 thank you so much for posting x

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