GCSEs Reports from the exam hall

Or as it is correctly pronounced, Maths, was today’s GCSE of choice. 2 hours long and calculator-allowed, we navigated the stormy waters of quadratics, climbed the towering heights of function graphs and almost fell into the quicksand of compound interest. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes that I realised I had described a bank with a 104.5% annual rate, pretty generous for a savings account. Luckily, it was corrected in time. Tomorrow’s exam is Science (or “The Bits We Didn’t Fit Into Part 1!”) and then there’s another break until the final GCSE of the lot – History – on Tuesday. It’s my birthday in the meantime as well. Yay!

Talking of school, here’s an anatomy of a letter I found when I got back.

Dear Dominic,

Ooooh – good? bad? Am I expelled, or have I been selected for the football team? Go on…!


Oh OK, it can’t be that bad then.

In the Autumn and Spring term you attended school every single day...

Bloody hell, how geeky. Still – must be worth something though? An iPod perhaps?

You have been awarded a Certificate...

Righty ho, that’s great, but I could get more than that by phoning into CBBC…

This is a significant accomplishment...

Oh, you tease. Significant eh? Well, surely the prize will be quite large then, since it only has to be given to one person! All right!

I am awarding you a £5 book token...

A book token? Yeah, it’s, um, what I’ve always wanted….

I’m joking really, I’m sure it’ll look sexy in a CV, but still – nobody claims the taxpayer is bribing young people over here!

English Paper 2 today. Section A was a bog standard piece of poetry comparison that, you know, I just did without too much thought. And then in Section B I made a choice – I could have done some incredibly easy letter about improvements to our school or something equally done, but I decided to do the much more fun “Describe a nightmare world.”

So then I spent 45 minutes having fun just doing some creative writing, following my well worn formula of writing a narrative featuring a character walking down a street (this time he gets to shoot someone, but she’s bleeding to death anyway, so what the hell) and then arrive at a camp to have a confrontation with a “chavvie” before being gassed by the metallic Wardens. Oh, it was cool. Although I can’t seem to stop putting in Doctor Who references – this time the ‘Kaled clan’.

I did wonder about making my ‘nightmare world’ a Tory party conference or something, but sci-fi seemed the way to go.

I also managed today to wrench PC2 off the horrible, resource-hogging and damn UGLY Norton onto the standardised McAfee that every other PC uses. And then I got terribly bored and re-branded it. How weird. (The file is oemlogo.gif if anyone cares enough.)

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The History exam was really a two-pronged attack. Firstly, the content itself is not easy and while I knew about 90% of the facts, getting it all to gel was difficult, especially in the section on Indian Independence. Worse though was just the sheer amount of writing. I’m really bad at writing short answers and managed to completely fill the 16 page answer book in 2 hours. (OK, it was more like 15 pages since the front is mostly instructions and the like, but still – that’s a rate of around 8 minutes per A4 page.)

The good news is that I did complete every question – didn’t run out of time at the end although I literally had about 3 minutes to go. My handwriting of course deteriorated but hopefully still legible enough to get marks. Really no idea on how well I did overall – but I figure that with all the facts I did put it, I can’t have flopped it, even if one large mark question had me a bit confused as to what they were actually asking!

As you can imagine, I was also pretty glad for my bottle of water.

Tomorrow afternoon is English, which should be slightly easier but still a mass of writing. And poetry, which I’m not looking forward to. The second section is more creative writing though, so hopefully will be able to pick up some marks there. Hmmm… we’ll see!

On a blog-related technical note – Captchas are currently not working due to Freetype not being installed. GD, however, is installed (see the PHP into page) so we might be able to get something working eventually. Until then pre-moderation for all items will continue I’m afraid, at least until I weather this round of spam.

If so – good news! You’ve got advantage when doing a GCSE English exam. For the two pieces of non-fiction text this year were a Nissan Micra advert (non-fiction? haha) and a hilarious piece from Bill Bryson about America’s addiction to cars. Decent questions too, so no complaints there, despite the theme of cars.

Section B offered a choice as usual, I went for the slight gamble of writing the text to another advert for a car aimed at young men. It was called the Skaro SVI and features a ground-braking “noise control” system that allows you to choose how loud the motor is. Oh, and metallic paint! Genius, I’m sure you’ll agree. Slogan?

“It’s not your father’s car. The new Skaro SVI.”

The Skaro SV1 is copyright Kaled Corporation. All rights reserved.

Before I get carried away with the fun of creative writing in English, I should remember that tomorrow is History. We’ll be sampling the delights of India’s Road to Independence as well as a whole bunch of stuff that happened in the USA after WW2 (Civil Rights, Women, Watergate, McCarthy, etc..) and suchlike.

Today was the first (and only) day with two subjects on the same day, and my neck is hurting from having to lean over the low table. Apart from that, it went well

ICT was first and went as expected. I had finished, checked and double checked after 1 hour 15 minutes, so I had 45 minutes left to drink some water, lean back, read the case study, go up to 1000 on my calculator simply by pressing +1, go back down to 0 by pressing -1, re-read the case study, count the number of lights on the ceiling, read the nutritional information on my water bottle, and finally stare at the clock. Seriously, the ICT exam is easy.

“Peter is 12. What two things might he do online to pursue his hobby – golf?”

Well, getting a life would help. Golf?! At 12!?

Anyway – then came 2 hours of Maths (non-calculator, higher tier) in the afternoon. And it was actually quite a good paper, although I won’t use the word “easy” like our head of year did. Screwed up on a question about cylinders and ignored an algebra one, but apart from that I was quite pleased with it. Especially satisfying when you get the vectors question (it’s a little puzzle!) and when you’ve got a mass of equations down to something nice and simple.

My Maths GCSE now really lies in the second paper, and how generous they are with the grade boundaries.

Tomorrow is English Part 1 – but without any poetry. Thank god.