Examinations – Pass or Fail

It’s that time of year when countless students prepar to sit examinations of one kind or another: GCSEs, A Levels, end of year exams. My 12 year old grandson has just completed a week of intensive exams. He is relieved that is was all in one week, but I can’t remember doing anything like that at his age. Is he too young? Is it right that there is less course work and more formal testing?

Examinations were always a regular feature of College life. In 1854 students who failed their first year examinations had to re-sit. Typical examination questions included:

Geography: Explain the geographical allusion in Psalm cxxxvi 5; ‘Turn our captivity, O Lord,as the rivers of the South’.

Scripture: Give dates for the following events – The Deluge;The Passage of the Jordan;The Death of Abraham. Fortunately, arithmetic questions were more straightforward, such as – reduce fractions to their simplest form.

In the 1900s, students dreaded practical teaching exams known as ‘Major Day Crits’. Children were taken to the College from local Salisbury schools and the anxious students had to present a lesson in front of fellow student critics and a lecturer. After the lesson there was 30 minutes of critical discussion and assessment before the student was given a grade, which counted towards their final result. A treat at the end was a slice of a special ‘Major’ cake which must have tasted so good!.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the feeling of relief when exams are over- that is, until the results are published.

2 Responses to Examinations – Pass or Fail

  1. Joan McNabb nee Harris says:

    Hello there, my comment does not really apply to the last post but was unsure how I should comment otherwise! I have recently acquired a copy of your book, and wanted to say how much pleasure it has given me. I was a student here from 1946 – 1948 and reading it brought back many happy memories, and if there is anyone who remembers me, I would love to hear from them. I was a chapel warden at the college, and if life had turned out differently I might well have ended up as a teaching missionary in New Guinea, as it was I went on to marry a young handsome teacher whom I met at the end of my first year and we were to have three lovely sons and be happily married for over 62 years I remember so well, many members of staff listed here, in particular Edith Maxwell, the principal at the time I was in Salisbury. I taught for many years until 1984 when I took early retirement and I now live in Pembrokeshire. Best Wishes, Joan McNabb (nee Harris)

    • Anne Johns says:

      Hello Joan

      Did you come into contact with any of the students mentioned in the book? We are so delighted that you are enjoying it so much. Where did you live when you were at College-were you in the horse boxes? Is there anything you can tell us about the staff whom you remember? Did you ever come into contact with the St Boniface students? There is so much we would still love to know about College in the Forties.

      Many thanks