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August 30, 2004



Ok, so what are the POINT of these exams? Is the idea that EVERYONE has to pass them to graduate and thus be minimally employable, or are they designed as a winnowing fan to decide who goes to University? If the former, then those kinds of questions are necessary, unless you want huge quantities of football louts who have nothing to do except riot in the streets and get drunk because their lack of diploma makes them unemployable. In that case I assure you that students headed for university and academic careers consider these exams a joke and reserve their dread for other less publicized ones. If the latter...uhhh...maybe you've got a problem. (Sorry to burble on like this, you touched a nerve. Odds on Aldo weighs in on this one too. Educators are like Pavlov's dogs. We see certain topics and our mouths water.)


Hi Rebecca - I agree, if it's the former, then the questions are fine - but why give the pupils Shakespeare in the first place? And in answer to your question, I don't know :o) They've changed the format of the exams since I was at school. What I DO know is that when I was 14, I was also studying Macbeth and we got a very specific essay question along the lines of 'Macbeth - big butch hunky man of steel, or lily-livered hen-pecked husband? Discuss, and use lots of quotes, or else.'


Jim Winter

At least British students know that Alaska is not a country and that England is not a state.

Although if you watch Fox News, you'd swear it was the other way around.


I have been suspicious of writing tests ever since I came within one point of flunking the one Oklahoma students have to pass to graduate high school the same year I was co-Top English Senior. (Not that I'm bragging, it's just to show that SOMEBODY thought I was good at writing.)

But at least the question on that test sort of made sense (asking you to argue for/against the recently passed curfew law). I don't understand why, if they want to give a simple situational prompt, they have to add a indirect Shakespeare reference and act like that somehow makes it harder.

Jason Mulgrew


jason mulgrew
internet quasi-celebrity

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