Theoretical 3-minute language quizz for 18-year-old English A-level students
Posted: 16 August 2013 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I wasn’t taught any of this in my day. You don’t have to use the clock unless you want to know the answers, presumably. I felt so smug I didn’t bother, ha ha.

The middle-aged comedian Dara O’Briain, formerly a theoretical physicist to Ph D level, completed an O-level maths exam in ten minutes and got an A* and dismissed the format as largely useless if that’s any encouragement. I think the young of today get a couple of hours for O-level maths, etc.

[ Edited: 16 August 2013 11:40 AM by venomousbede ]
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Posted: 16 August 2013 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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A pretty silly test.

For example, it doesn’t accept syntax for “the way the sentences of a language are constructed” or homophone for “a word with the same spelling but a different meaning and sound, such as ‘lead’ (verb) and ‘lead’ (noun).” And “an idea or term considered apart from some material basis or object” is not how any native English speaker would define abstract noun. ("Considered apart”? How about “a word that represents a non-material object”?) In other words, it wants you to give the specific answer that the makers of the test had in mind and not not other, perfectly good options. Other questions are deliberately obfuscatory.

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Posted: 16 August 2013 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Words with different sounds aren’t homophones.

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Posted: 16 August 2013 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Got me there. Still a stupid test.

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Posted: 17 August 2013 03:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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So I hope the correct answer was homograph.

BTW:
“20. An understatement”
Gee, good thing there is only one word in English meaning an understatement.

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Posted: 17 August 2013 05:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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BTW, alongside this, the Guardian is also running an A-level maths test.
There are a couple of outright mistakes in the maths test.

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Posted: 25 August 2013 07:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Tests are for children learning to think; not for adults thinking to learn.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m pretty glad adults have to pass tests before they are allowed to build bridges.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Tests serve a variety of purposes. There are diagnostic tests to gauge proficiency so a course of study can be devised, there are certification tests to provide assurance that an individual has the requisite knowledge for a particular task, there are tests to determine how well a system of instruction is working, etc. Tests can even be a learning tool. (Repeated retesting of subjects is proven to be an excellent way to get students to learn.) Tests need to be designed for a particular purpose and audience if they are to be effective.

But tests in newspapers and pop websites have no value beyond entertainment.

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Posted: 26 August 2013 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

-Tom Bodett (attribution not verified)

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Posted: 26 August 2013 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Tests serve a variety of purposes.

I just read in the most recent WIRED magazine that a computer science professor (sorry don’t have the citation to hand) had the practice of giving a test and the test with the highest score (regardless of what that score was) would get an A and every other test was scaled from there.

so the students figured out that if all the 50 students in the course boycotted the test, they would each get an A. So, in the discussion area of the on-line part of the course, they organized the boycott and only one guy showed up for the test, but when he saw all the other students were missing, he thought better of it and left. They each got an A.

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Posted: 28 August 2013 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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There’s a probably apocryphal story about an Oxbridge philosophy paper in which it was asked “Is this a question?” and someone got an A for answering “Yes, but only if this is an answer.” This would be very unfair on the other students who had wrestled with matters of logic and semantics but you never know with ivory-towered dons who don’t get out much.

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