An Experimental Examination in General Studies

It has recently been suggested that a test of general studies could be used as a qualification for entry to university. However, there is some diversity of opinion among teachers as to the value of such an examination.

This paper reports on the trial of a General Studies examination as a means of assessing the general knowledge of candidates sitting the GCE examination at the Advanced level. It outlines the process of devising the examination, the structure of the papers, the candidates who sat the examination, and the conclusions that can be drawn from the study.

The examination was sat by 510 sixth-form students from 17 grammar schools. The findings suggest that there was reliability of marking between examiners and a fair measure of agreement between candidates’ results and schools’ estimates of their students. The report also investigated the effect of candidates using General Studies in qualifying for State Scholarships and Local Education Authority awards.

The report concludes that the introduction of an examination in General Studies would not necessarily result in a loss of efficiency in the present functions of the GCE examination.

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