Dumbing Down.

The Irish News today carries a story on page 9 Victorian entrance exam highlights ‘dumbing down’.An exam paper set for 11-year-olds in Victorian Britain was too difficult for most of today’s A-Level students, campaigners said.

The Spectator magazine published school entrance exams from the 19th century, sparking renewed claims that education standards had been dumbed down.

The school’s headmaster acknowledged that the tests set at King Edward’s School in Birmingham in 1898 would tax most people today.

The questions covered Latin, details of British history, English grammar and maths.

They were aimed at the brightest 11-year-olds of the time.

Dumbing down: the proof

The questions are TOUGH!



1. Write out in your best handwriting:—

‘O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands o’ Dee.’
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.
The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land —
And never home came she.

2. Parse fully ‘And call the cattle home.’
3. Explain the meaning of o’ Dee, dank with foam, western tide, round and round the sand, the rolling mist.
4. Write out separately the simple sentences in the last two lines of the above passage and analyse them.
5. Write out what you consider to be the meaning of the above passage.

How about these ?


1. Multiply 642035 by 24506.
2. Add together £132 4s. 1d., £243 7s. 2d., £303 16s 2d., and £1.030 5s. 3d.; and divide the sum by 17. (Two answers to be given.)
3. Write out Length Measure, and reduce 217204 inches to miles, &c.
4. Find the G.C.M. of 13621 and 159848.
5. Find, by Practice, the cost of 537 things at £5 3s. 71/2d. each.
6. Subtract 37/16 from 51/4; multiply 63/4 by 5/36; divide 43/8 by 11/6; and find the value of 21/4 of 12/3 of 13/5.
7. Five horses and 28 sheep cost £126 14s., and 16 sheep cost £22 8s.; find the total cost of 2 horses and 10 sheep.
8. Subtract 3.25741 from 3.3; multiply 28.436 by 8.245; and divide .86655 by 26.5.
9. Simplify 183/4 – 22/3 ÷ 11/5 – 31/2 x 4/7.
10. Find the square root of 5.185,440,100.
11. Find the cost of papering the walls of a room 16ft long, 13ft 6in. wide, and 9ft high, with paper 11/2ft wide at 2s. 3d. a piece of 12yds in length.
12. A and B rent a number of fields between them for a year, the rent and other expenses amounting to £108 17s. 6d. A puts in 2 horses, 5 oxen and 10 sheep; and B puts in 4 horses, 1 ox, and 27 sheep. If a horse eats as much as 3 sheep and an ox as much as 2 sheep, how much should A and B each pay?