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Special Collections: School Exam Papers

History of Education Sources

About the Collection

Since the early twentieth century, public examinations for school pupils aged approximately 16 and 18 have been set by a number of independent examining boards, originally associated with universities, later set up as independent organizations by government. Each board published its own regulations and syllabuses, mark schemes, examiners' reports, statistics, and past examinations papers.

The original School Certificate and Higher School Certificate were replaced in the early 1950s by the GCE (General Certificate of Education) at  Ordinary and Advanced levels. GCE 'O' level was supplemented in the 1970s with CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) for lower attaining pupils, and the two were replaced in 1986 by the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education).

This collection was originally assembled by the library of the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) and its predecessors. It comprises the publications of most of the major examining boards, including the AEB (Associated Examining Board), JMB (Joint Matriculation Board), University of London, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Oxford and Cambridge, and other regional groups. The earliest publications date from about 1907; the latest additions were made in the mid-1990s. Some material from organizations dealing with vocational qualifications, such as BTEC and the City and Guilds, is also included.  The IOE Archives hold IOE and LDTC exam papers and pass lists dating back to 1907.

Size: c. 50 metres of shelving

Type/format: Regulations and syllabuses, exam papers, examiners' reports and statistics

Dates: Early 1900s – mid 1990s

Accrual policy: Closed

Bedford Way

Reference only. By prior arrangement with the Special Collections Librarian. Contact the Library Enquiries in the first instance.

The collection is not fully catalogued though a selection of papers from 1900-1950 were catalogued as part of the IOE-OEM UK project funded by JISC.  These papers are listed in the Library Catalogue.  Search for 'examination papers', click on the radio button 'Exact' and then do a 'Subject' search.  This will list the 6000+ papers that are catalogued.