Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
G C E Examination Papers
from the collection of the late Dylan Morgan
This short-lived examination, intended for sixth-formers, was introduced specifically to implement the intentions of a small number of universities, and of employers, in demanding proof of proficiency in the use of English for students intending to proceed to university. It was introduced in the early 1960s and abandoned in the 1970s.
The test was designed to establish that a candidate could write an essay, comprehend a passage, and summarize the contents of another. It repeated the main features of the Ordinary level English Language paper, but at a higher level of proficiency.
Some universities required a pass in this paper for entry into their courses. It was almost exclusively required of mathematicians, scientists, and those applying for courses such as engineering. Applicants in other subjects were deemed to demonstrate their literacy by the quality of their A level written answers. There was, however, no requirement that these latter students should demonstrate proficiency in numeracy.
Of those taking the examination around 60% passed, but fairly soon after the introduction of the examination many people were disturbed at the possibility that highly competent students of science and mathematics were being excluded from the seven universities, which had adopted the test in English, because of their inability to pass the test.
Some schools offered no lessons to prepare for the examination, whilst others made minimal provision for teaching the necessary techniques — taught by unenthusiastic teachers to even more reluctant students.
Further information about the Use of English examination in:
Williams, Daniel Bryn, PhD thesis, University of Nottingham, (1998)
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