Ambleside Online Year 4 – Exam for Term 1

‘…knowledge is acquired only by what we may call “the act of knowing,” which is both encouraged and tested by narration, and which further requires the later test and record afforded by examinations.’
 A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason, Pg. 292

It took a while for me to be convinced that exams at the end of each term of AO were beneficial. I thought it was a waste of time and I might as well use the week profitably and get on with the next term’s work. Part of the problem was that when we first started AO I didn’t start everyone at the same time. I had four children in various weeks of the term’s work and this made scheduling exams really awkward. 
This year, however, it was much easier as both Moozle & Bengy’s weeks line up. We’ve just finished an exam week – Term 1 of Year 4 & Year 8.


The general outline of the Year 4 exam questions below is taken from the Ambleside Online suggestions but I’ve changed some and adapted others to suit our Australian content and our personal situation.


Write 2-4 lines of a poem that you memorized this term.


She chose The Owl by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


A dragon-fly is caught in the meshes of the web. With one wing free it struggles to escape. It shakes the web, but the cables hold in spite of the shaking.

The Story Book of Science Pg 131

I started doing regular studied dictation with Moozle a few months ago and can see an improvement in her spelling over that time.




1. Describe your favourite scene or character from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale

2. Narrate a story from Age of Fable

This narration was done after we finished The Winter’s Tale late last year and I’ve included it here as an early exam piece. We haven’t read Shakespeare this year but we are going to see a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the weekend and next week when we start Term 2, we’ll begin a new play.

‘There is probably no better test of a liberal education than the number of names a person is able to use accurately and familiarly as occasion requires’ 
 Pg. 294

English Grammar
1. Pick out Subjects (nouns) and Predicates (verbs) in the following:

     a. The Spanish, too, were interested in finding new colonies and claiming rich cargoes.  

      b. The Cygnet stayed in Western Australian waters for nine weeks.
      c. Precious spices grew on the islands in the seas above Australia. 
      d. Tasman sailed on east, discovering the edge of New Zealand.

 2. Correct  the punctuation and capitalization in the following sentence: 

soon after sailing away dampier deserted and returned to england where he wrote a journal about his adventures


Australian History

1. Tell about the first Europeans who came to Australia  

 2. Why were people in no hurry to settle in ‘New Holland’?



1.    Fill in the places you know on a map of Australia, include the places the early explorers visited.
2.    Tell about how rain is formed (the water cycle)
3.    What is a Peninsula, an Isthmus, a Bay?

Natural History and General Science

1. What are earthquakes? What causes them?

2. Talk about silk, and about Epeira’s Bridge.

3. Tell what  you know about insects – draw a picture to illustrate.



Citizenship/Government (Plutarch)

Tell about Timoleon’s expedition against the Carthaginians. 



Reading Skill

Read aloud Matthew 5: 19-21 with proper expression & enunciation


1. 63 divided by __ = 7

2. Dan bought 8 cases of lemonade for a party with 24 cans in each case, how many cans of lemonade is that altogether?

3. Fred mows lawns for five dollars per lawn. If he mows eight lawns, how much does he earn?


Foreign Language

1. Write a proper sentence in French
2. Write five Latin words and their translation
3. Sing your favourite French folksong                  

Picture Study

1. Describe or sketch a picture from this term’s picture study. (Degas)


Psalm 100
Hebrews 4: 12-16
The Destruction of Sennacherib by George Gordon Byron
The Owl by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Play your favourite piece of music for the cello


Music Appreciation

1. Tell about your favourite piece of music from this term.

2. What have you learned about the work of the conductor of the Orchestra? How does she communicate what she wants you to do?


Sing your favourite folksong and hymn from this term.


Take a photo of your work and send it to great Grandma.

A machine sewn skirt – this was the same sort of procedure as the plastic bag holder – a much smaller version so more fiddly, especially the waist elastic.
The top was crotcheted – make enough chain stitch to fit around the doll’s chest and then continue in double crotchet until the desired length. Sew together up the back. Using chain stitch attach the front to the back over both shoulders. The top can be pulled over the doll’s head.





Draw a picture using the techniques you’ve learnt with pastels.

I included this in Moozle’s exams as she’s been learning to use pastels & watercolour pencils. She decided to do a sunset:



This exam was an opportunity for Moozle to show what she knows. It wasn’t a list of questions to try and catch her out but it did point out some areas that I could be more intentional about. She really enjoyed her week and to top it off she has a Highland Dancing Competition tomorrow where she will have another opportunity of displaying what she has learnt.


8 thoughts on “Ambleside Online Year 4 – Exam for Term 1

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Can you share a little about what convinced you to start giving exams? I'm still not convinced it's necessary when I know what they've learned and what they're struggling with. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Also if you have any resources to share about how studied dictation works I could use some help on that front as well. Thanks!


  2. Thank you sharing this. My oldest starts Y4 in July, so I love that y'all are a bit ahead of us. Do you have a resource you've been using to teach pastels and water color pencils? Her sunset is beautiful.


  3. I don't know that I was convinced about exams. I just decided to do them & then I made up my mind that they were probably a good idea. I thought that CM must have had a good reason & as has been the case with some of her other ideas I didn't see the point at first. When we do narrations each day, they are telling me something they've done recently but exams go back over the term – that gives a better indication of how much they've really absorbed and the questions selected on the AO exam pages differ from how I might word things.Re studied dictation here are a couple of resources that may be helpful: – a video that talks you through the process've always done dictation but I'd give an unstudied passage – which wasn't really much of a problem until I had a child who had no idea about spelling. When I started him with studied dictation (he was about 16yrs old) he improved so much. Hope that's answered some of your question, Lisa!


  4. A friend gave my dd a few tips – she had a picture of a sunset as a guide; used some decent art paper – thickish so it wouldn't tear; the rock silhouette was drawn first with coloured pencil; then she basically blended the pastels to get the colours she wanted and added highlights with white pastel.Used hard pastels as the softer ones fall apart & blended with her fingers mainly – very messy.I'd recommend an old shirt or something to cover themselves and a damp cloth so they can wash their hands between colours; spraying a fixative on when it's done is a good idea. We have a fixative that can be sprayed and then drawn/coloured over so if you don't finish the project you can come back & colour over it still.I found this site but there are oodles of them – some probably too technical: used prismacolor nupastels & they work well. Oil pastels are harder to work with, I think so probably avoid those. If I find any good videos I'll let you know, Virginia.


  5. Thank you! I haven't had a chance to check out the links yet, but will be doing that soon. I have been reading about exams lately, here and on other blogs and am thinking about giving a try seeing how they go. Thank you again for sharing!


  6. During our first two years of AO, I avoided exams, too, Carol; the very word took me back to my school days of extreme anxiety about taking end-of-the-semester exams. But I decided to give them a try at the end of this year's first term, and to my surprise – and delight – the children had no anxiety whatsoever, and actually seemed to enjoy them. It's a wonderful time to sit down together and remember their favorite things from the previous term. 🙂


  7. Thank you for sharing this, Carol! We will be doing Year 4 starting in July, so I'm bookmarking this to come back to. The thing I particularly love about exams as it really showcases the breadth *and* depth of a CM education. Your daughter's work in all areas is just wonderful.


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