HOW dumb?

CF's middle daughter, CFette #2, took her Chemistry GCSE today.

Naturally, she was asked by her proud Daddy how she'd got got on, and what the paper had contained. And what a revelation that was.

One of the early questions was as follows (concentrate - here comes the Science bit): 

What fluid is used in the home for drinking and washing?

The possible answers - yes, of course this was multiple choice - were as follows:

Water, Copper, Salt or Soap? 

For. Fuck's. Sake.

++ Update ++  This story is being challenged in certain places as being yet another urban myth. But it's not. It was a question in the GCSE Chemistry C3 paper, sat yesterday morning. Obviously, the papers were handed back in, so the wording may not be exactly correct, but that was the question, and those were the possible answers. Hard to believe, but true.


John R said...

But I'll bet there were lots of questions on the social relevance of water to the welfare of red headed, one armed, third world agricultural workers.

Jiks said...

Holy crap, that's a GCSE question?!

I know they had dumbed things down since my day of "O" Levels, etc but had no idea it had got that bad. Words fail me ...

Ashtrayhead said...

What was the answer?

Corrugated Soundbite said...


An own brand will do your pipes out a treat (take that to mean whatever you want).

Griblett said...

All the answers are correct.

You get a pass for being able to use a pen to make a mark on the paper and for not gouging your own or someone else's eye out with it.

microdave said...

With regard to multiple choice questions, I remember being told that 2 of the choices were obviously wrong, and the remaining 2 were so close that you either had to take a guess, or work the damn thing out to be sure of the correct answer.

Since neither copper or salt were fluids last time I looked, that leaves water and soap. Presumably in today's dumbed down society soap is only available in the runny variety, so should I drink some of it to establish the right answer?

banned said...

Nothing in the Queens Speech about undumbing exams, come on Davenick, sort it out, lazy cunt.

A_Zimbo said...

CF Wait until you see what her mathematics questions are like.........assuming of course she is taking any mathematics exams since they are rarely an actual mandatory anymore.

JuliaM said...



Nope, I got nothin'.

Anonymous said...


My kids did their Maths standard grades a few years ago. 60% of the questions were arithmetic and what I would consider mental arithmetic at that, and the maths questions should have been no challenge to a 10 year old.

I don't know if it is different in England but up here in Scotland the standards are shocking.

Jill said...

Gosh, and that's Chemistry too. Mine are doing some joined up GCSEs a year early (Core and Applied) then at least one proper science in Y11. I haven't looked at exam questions, but the revision books look harder than that. And they're sposed to be the Micky Mouse ones. Are you sure you're representing the exam properly? It's not just the first question to calm their nerves? There was always an easy one to start with even twenty five years ago, when I was doing them.

Anonymous said...

That's true, there was an easy one 25 years ago. But it would have been something like "explain what happens when you pour sulphuric acid on zinc" and it wouldn't have been a multiple choice answer.

Jess The Dog said...

I am shocked. They included 'soap'as an answer? That might stigmatise deprived families, who don'tknow what it is! I'm sure I remember questions on chemical reactions (acid alkali) in my day ... I supose they could ask 'how many wraps out of a kilogram of cocaine..'

Anonymous said...

You're a father, poor child!!

Constantly Furious said...

This story is being challenged in certain places as being yet another urban myth. But it's not. It was a question in the GCSE Chemistry C3 paper, sat yesterday morning.

Obviously, the papers were handed back in, so the wording may not be exactly correct, but that was the question, and those were the possible answers.

There were even other questions for the same set of answers: 'What material can drawn out to form wires : Water, Soap, Salt, Copper?'

Hard to believe, but true

Jill said...

Um... is CF-ette not that science minded? Is that she's doing the foundation exam, where the highest mark available is a C? Is that it? Cos I've just downloaded AQA GSCE Chem C3 in both foundation and higher, and foundation does indeed have some questions that are almost as easy as that.

As far as I can make out, this foundation level thing is like the old CSE was to the O Level.

Minekiller said...

Seeing this, I just summoned my youngest daughter to come downstairs, (currently home from school for lunch) and put this 'GCSE' question to her. I did not allow her the multiple choice option. She looked at me as if I'd asked he the dumbest question ever asked.

However, she answered correctly (phew…) and when I informed her that this was a question in a certificate or qualification awarding exam for 16yr olds in England she said, "Well then, they must be really dumb".

We live in the Netherlands. English is my daughter's second language (of three) and she is 11.

Jill said...

CF: could you let me know a) what board this is, and b) whether the paper is foundation or higher. Not for the sake of argument on here; for forthcoming governor meeting I'll be at.

Constantly Furious said...


It was Edexcel; 'Short answer C3' Chemistry.

It was most definitely not Foundation - CFette #2 is doing 3 'separate' sciences, as were all the kids at this particular exam.

Email me if you want more detail.

Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur said...

My son is 10 and attends a private school. His science exam earlier this week was more difficult than that.

A fucking disgrace

Obscene Dilema said...

we've blogged about this kind of thing on our blog many times:

Sadly this is no surprise. I'm currently doing OCR Core and Additional science

The specifiction is gateway B and to get an A you have to get 60.8%

grade thresholds:

Not only are grade boundries going lower, the science exams syllabi these days are filled with so much government shit and indoctrination it's unbelievable.

Here's an example.
(see Qs 2,4,10,11)

There's shite about calculating BMI, RDA, drugs and how horrible they are, misuse of drug act, climate change, to mention but a few. All of it being highly inaccurate.

The examination board we are currently we are doing I would say is a bit more harder than edexcel. Usually, I've found edexcel to be the easiest. That's not to say I would be surprised if that came up in my exam though- I'm quite expecting it.

Anyway, I wish your daughter all the best on her GCSEs... I have one tomorrow on C1 so I better get revising eh? or maybe not.

Mrs Rigby said...

This is why the private sector uses the IGCSE, which state schools are currently forbidden to use. That ruling is to be scrapped.

More at the Register about Physics

The insane thing is that the triple science paper awards equivalent of 3 GCSEs, and is even less challenging.

Jill said...

CF: thanks - is all I need. I hope I didn't disparage CF-ette. Obscene Dilema's place is providing major material for tub thumping at governor meetings, so that's good.

Beancounter said...

As I took my O levels in 1972, admittedly when you had to remember something before regurgitating it at a later date, I am not surprised at the lack of rigour in our current exam system. My 14 year old daughter took some mock GCSE biology papers earlier this year, and although Jill is correct about the foundation and higher level, there were a number of questions that were in both sections. The first question, from an actual exam set in November 2007, showed a picture of a basketball player and asked which receptors the player would use to see the crowd, hear the crowd, touch the ball and one more which I cannot remember. There were 4 possible answers to the 4 questions. I did not do biology when I was 16, but I am sure that I could pass the current GCSE with ease.

I see job applications from people who cannot actually write (e.g. "please send in your CV, together with a hand-written covering letter", and you end up with a word-processed document) or if it is in writing then it is invariably a page torn out of the nearest ring-bound pad. You can spot the “mature” applicants without having to look at any personal data purely from the fact that they can write a letter, with appropriate punctuation and spelling.

As for Minekiller, having worked for companies with Dutch operations, and played hockey against Dutch teams, how I wish we had an education system that only partially matched yours. Most of the people that I have met in the Netherlands speak better English than those who live in these islands, certainly compared to those that were not born here.

With the current level of academic expertise, how the hell are our children going to be able to cope with the intellectual task of managing our country out of the economic shit-hole that Brown and his corrupt scumbags have left for us all?

Sorry about the length of this, but it makes my blood boil nearly as much as seeing smug BBC personnel living in an unreal world where we pay a 1950's style TV tax to keep them in a job that the market economy would not support, while the rest of us pay for their left-wing bias whether we like it or not.

Man with Many Chins said...

We are fucked.

I actually reviewed some past papers from 2009 in science and mathematics as my step daughter is currently sitting these exams.

I sat my GCSE's 20 years ago not long after they started and received A grades in science and mathematics. To say I was shocked at the questions currently being asked is an understatement. If this is really the education levels that we are providing to our children in the wonderful global economy then I truly despair.