English Papers in Examinations for Pupils of School Age in England and Wales (Classic Reprint)

English Papers in Examinations for Pupils of School Age in England and Wales (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from English Papers in Examinations for Pupils of School Age in England and Wales

It is obvious that in this type of examination the main test will be Composition. The question by which the candidate's proficiency in composing is tested, and which may for the sake of brevity be called the essay-question, sometimes forms part of a paper containing a number of other questions (e.g. on Grammar). This is not a good arrangement, as it tends to distract and confuse the mind of the child-candidate, who, in planning and writing his 'essay', should be free to concentrate his whole attention on that difficult task. The 'essay' should form a paper by itself, and should have a stated time assigned to it.

It is fortunately now hardly necessary to observe that the required composition should never at this stage be an essay on an abstract theme. It should indeed rarely be an essay at all, in the usual sense of that word. It will generally take one of two forms: (a) a descriptive account, or a narrative, involving some attempt at original writing; or (b) a reproduction of a story. After some remarks on these two forms, further suggestions will be offered.

(a) A descriptive account or a narrative. This should be strictly confined to subjects within the range of the children's experience.

They should have a choice of subjects; and these may often be taken from their own school life and the books they have read in class.

(b) Reproduction of a narrative in verse or prose read aloud by the examiner or silently read by the children. It is essential here that the story should be definite and complete in itself. Home they brought her warrior dead, Young Lochinvar, and The Inchcape Rock may be instanced as poems suitable for this kind of test. Classical myths like the story of Narcissus, or folk-tales like those of Grimm, would also furnish suitable themes; but it is important that the story selected for this purpose should not contain too much material.

(c)Expansion, or other alteration, of a given story. The mere outline of a familiar story (e.g. a fable) may be given, and the candidate may be told to fill in the details.

Usually, however, the story will be unfamiliar, in which case a fuller outline should be provided. Here it may be useful, as a variation, to tell the story only in part and leave it for the children to complete.

Again, alteration in the form of a story may be required. For instance, the candidate may be told to reproduce the story in the shape of dialogue (the writing of which is a good test).

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