Tag Archives: exams

July 4th 1975

“Came home at 3 o’clock. Had to do speech in assembly. Got 43% in Art”

Now, was I doing a speech to the outgoing students, to the possible newbies, or to the BP ‘student body’ as a whole?

Whatever I had to do, it looks like I was able to skive off early and get home by 3 o’clock in the afternoon. (“Skive” being a british slang term for avoiding responsibilities and/or work)

Is 43% good? I know if I had 43% of my mother-in-law’s lemon pie left that would be very good indeed, but I can’t be certain it represents a ‘pass percentage’ as far as my exams go.


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January 20th 1975

“Economics ‘O’ level retake”

Regular EFA70sTRO readers will recall that I pretty much crashed and burned in my GCE O-Levels back in August 1974.

Amongst the subject I failed at was Economics.

Seems like I was allowed to retake it?

How would I fare this time?

I don’t think my diary ever reports it so I will ease your intense unrelenting curiosity to inform you that…

I passed!

(OK, with another infernal ‘E’ grade…. but hey, it was still a pass!)

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August 20th 1974

“Got 5 ‘O’s including Spok. English”

Let’s review these results shall we?…..

Economics: Grade F FAIL
E.Lit. Syll.B: Grade E PASS (English Literature Syllabus B)
Physics: Grade F FAIL
Eng. Language: Grade E PASS (English Language)
Geography: Grade F FAIL
Rel.Studies: F FAIL (Religious Studies)
Spok. English: C PASS (Spoken English)
History: E PASS
Tech. Drawing: E PASS (Technical Drawing)

The back of the actual certificate (shown below) states “Attainment in an Ordinary level subject is indicated by a Grade A, B, C, D, or E of which Grade A is the highest and Grade E the lowest……. Grade E is the lowest level of attainment judged by the University to be of sufficient standard to be recorded

I think it’s fair to admit I was…. a somewhat less than an average student who somehow managed to barely SQUEAK by in some of these important examinations. It feels astonishing to me now that I could apply myself quite admirably the year earlier and take/pass Mathematics quite easily (albeit also with an “E PASS” grade) but then when the rest came around I was phenomenally sloppy and without any personal application.

I’m surprised in retrospect that I failed Economics (it being something I dealt with quite successfully later in my career) and amazed that I completely stumbled in Physics when, just 2 years earlier, I was flying high in the subject and was first in my class.

No surprises regarding Geography (my wife is nodding her head as I type) or Religious Studies. I don’t think the *ahem* things I was ‘studying’ during my church retreats were necessarily likely to turn up on the exam paper?

I’m afraid I can only be flippant about all of this 36 years after the event. I can’t be convinced that passing more of these O-Levels would have changed my life that much so there’s no point in being regretful after the event is there?

In a nutshell I seemed to adopt ‘slackerdom’ at an early age?!


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June 19th 1974


I can only apologise.

A true diarist would have waxed lyrically about the pressures and frustrations surrounding these important examinations. About how he or she was uncertain about how they had done, whether they had done enough revision and preparation, whilst simultaneously expressing their feelings of nervousness upon entering the exam hall.

Instead, this ‘diarist’ made scant-to-no reference to the exams during their progress and decided to dismiss one of them as “quite a laugh”

But it’s not detail you keep tuning into EFA70sTRO for, is it?

Instead it’s for a daily dose of……… well, what exactly?

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June 18th 1974

“Had geography – all good for a laugh. TD – not bad; not good but not bad”

Remember, if you will, that these were my bona fide GCE O Levels we are talking about here.

Not the end of year exams or the o-level ‘mocks’ but probably the most IMPORTANT examinations of my entire scholastic career. I am 16 years old and these are exams that would/could determine my eventual educational destination after Barton Peveril and/or my entire life’s path.

So with that in mind lets recap shall we?….. Geography was “good for a laugh” and Technical Drawing was dismissed as “not good but not bad

Was the term ‘slacker’ even in use back in 1974?

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June 17th 1974

“Really tried to do some Geography revision for O Level but somehow couldn’t get going”

…. and so it came to pass that on this day in 1974 I would set myself up to be ‘geographically-challenged’ for the rest of my adult life.

I really am too.

There are days when its surprising I find my way downstairs in the morning. Some people – my friend Malc for instance – appear to have a built-in compass in their noggin, instinctively able to know which direction they’re facing and which way they need to go to get anywhere.

I possess whatever is the exact opposite of that.

I have become lost more times than I am EVER able to admit to.

Which is why when my wife bought me a Garmin GPS machine a couple of years ago it was like she was gifting me an “affair to remember”. Emily, for that is what I named my GPS, loves having her buttons pushed and then taking me all the way.

If ONLY I could have “got going” back in 1974…. *sigh*

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January 23rd 1974

“TD2 -> Easy”

Ooh, a day of cocky nonchalance about the exams!

What’s the betting it blew up in my face?

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January 4th / 5th 1974

• “Revision done mainly Physics”
• “Didn’t go to work – Revised (ha-ha!)”

Do you feel – like I do – that the scribbled addition of “ha-ha!” somehow undermines my utter conviction to the revision process in 1974?

The fact that I can’t even recall what revision consisted of is perhaps added testament to my indifference. Surely if I had been taking it seriously back then I would remember something about it all 35 years later?

Dear reader, I can only apologise again.

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