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Episodes

EpisodeTitleRepeatedComments
01Orals20101122

John O'Farrell explores the surprising history of the different kinds of exam, and our relationship with them.

In the first programme he finds out why, for centuries, Oxbridge finals were all done out loud - complete with a jester. Plus, examiners and pupils reveal how they deal with this most upfront, unforgiving form of examination.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

John O'Farrell explores why for centuries Oxbridge finals were done out loud.

02Timed Essays20101123

John O'Farrell explores the surprising history of the different kinds of exam, and our relationship with them.

In the second programme he finds out why the very idea of timed literary examinations caused a small war in the Victorian Establishment - and how the timed essay has since shaped the way the British power elite thinks. Plus, examiners and pupils reveal how they deal with this demanding form of examination.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

John finds out why timed examinations caused a small war in the Victorian establishment.

03Multiple Choice20101124

John O'Farrell explores the unexpected history of the different kinds of exam, and our relationship with them.

In the third programme he finds out how multiple choice was first used to test US soldiers during the First World War. And why America has relied surprisingly heavily ever since on a test that values objective judgements of the masses over quirky individuality. Plus, examiners on the art of writing the wrong questions, and pupils on trying to avoid the pitfalls of this most slippery of tests.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

Multiple choice was first used to test US soldiers during the First World War.

04Coursework20101125

John O'Farrell explores the unexpected history of the different kinds of exam, and our relationship with them.

In the fourth programme he finds out how exam work spread beyond school sports halls and into pupils' homes, with the introduction of coursework.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

John investigates how coursework spread beyond school sports halls and into pupils' homes.

05 LASTPracticals20101126

John O'Farrell explores the unexpected history of the different kinds of exam, and our relationship with them.

In the final programme he explores Victorian medical practicals, and why semi-naked patients volunteered to let students draw lines on them. And he finds out who examines the examiners - and what happens if they get a 'D'.

Producer: Phil Tinline.

John explores Victorian medical practicals. He also asks who examines the examiners.