Charlotte Mason Exam Week

This past week has been an exam week for Year 11, Term 2. We’ve followed the AmblesideOnline schedule but with quite a few changes and substitutions. These are some sample questions & answers from this week:


1. Write 8-10 lines of poetry from memory:

The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born

With monstrous head and sickening cry,
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient, crooked will.
Starve, scourge, deride me, I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour,
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


1. Discuss the choice of the title ‘The Chosen.’

I am not exactly sure why Chaim Potok chose the title ‘the Chosen.’ After all, I am not the author, but it probably refers to the fact Danny is trapped in the life of the son of a tzaddik. He has been chosen to be the tzaddik after his father. He’s his father’s eldest son and it is expected of him. A tzaddik is a leader, a teacher, like a rabbi. He takes the weight of his people on his shoulders and bears their burdens for them.

2. Does Orwell want to shoot the elephant? Why does he make the decision he makes?

Orwell does not want to shoot the elephant, but he kills it because the crowd wants him to, and he is afraid the crowd will kill him if he doesn’t.   

3. Summarise a short story or poem you read this term:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty:

This short story by James Thurber tells the story of Walter Mitty, an absent minded middle-aged gentleman. He is going shopping with his wife, and she leaves him to wait for her. While she is gone, he becomes Captain Walter Mitty, the brave and adventurous naval captain leading his crew through the storm that rages around his ship. He stands at the helm, the spray crashing over him, his keen, watchful eyes surveying all around him, ready to sacrifice himself for his country. Abruptly he is jerked back to reality by his wife telling him to stop daydreaming. He becomes the obedient husband. ‘Yes, dear.’ His exploiting dreams continue throughout the day, with each one depicting him as more famous and brave than ever before – Captain Walter Mitty, Sir Walter Mitty, Walter Mitty the spy, General Walter Mitty, etc.


1. How is Russia defined by its geography?

Russia is the largest country in the world. On almost all sides it is protected by mountainous country, but over towards the west there is a weak point near Poland. It is the North European Plain, which extends from France to the Urals, the mountain range which provides a natural border between Europe and Asia. The North European Plain covers most of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, northern Germany and almost all of Poland. The North European Plain in Poland is the skinny end of a wedge that extends all the way to the borders of Russia. At the Polish end it is only a few hundred miles wide, but by the time you reach the Russian border it is a few thousand miles wide. From there it’s flat all the way to Moscow. It is both a benefit and a hindrance from the Russian point of view. Russian forces could use it to drive through to Poland, but once an enemy coming the other way reaches the Russian border it is almost impossible to stop a large opposing force spreading out over the countryside and breaking through the lines of defence. Even with a large Russian army, you can’t completely cover two thousand miles of country that is as flat as a pancake. The earlier Russian rulers realised this, and so they expanded their empire to cover the wedge as best they could. If they hadn’t, Russia would not be the power it is today.


What do you know about the Korean War:

The Korean War was a war between North and South Korea lasting from 1950-1953. The North Koreans started it by attacking South Korea, and the US joined in by fighting on the side of the South. The US troops came too close to Chinese borders for comfort, so the Chinese joined in on the side of the North Koreans, and all went downhill from there. The armies came to a standstill on the 38th parallel, which approximately divided the country in half. The two sides agreed to a truce, and since then Korea has been divided into North and South. Technically, however, the war isn’t over, since no one signed a peace treaty.


Describe a scene or a character from the Tempest:

Prospero: Prospero was the Duke of Milan, before his brother Antonio overthrew him and tried to kill him. Prospero was placed in a boat with his daughter Miranda, and pushed off in the middle of the ocean. Contrary to Antonio’s expectation and hope, the father and daughter landed on an island and lived there. Prospero defeated a witch that lived there and became lord of the island by his magic that he had been practising. The witch’s son, Caliban, became his servant. They lived there for twelve years. Prospero seems to have been slightly harsh and overbearing, showing his more loving side only to Miranda. He had a sprite, Ariel, who did all he wished. He conjures up the storm that lands Antonio, Alonso, the King of Naples and retinue on his island. By his design the King’s son Ferdinand is separated from the others, each side believing the other to be dead. Ferdinand is guided unaware to where Miranda and Prospero are waiting. Unknown to both young people, Prospero wishes them to fall in love. His plan succeeds, and he furthers it by pretending to obstruct their marriage, which of course makes them fall more in love. He lures Antonio to the island in search of revenge, but at the end forgives him. Just before the end of the play, Prospero renounces all his arts and sets the spirits who waited on his commands free. Throughout the play he seems to become less and less harsh, and more considerate of others.

Commonplace Book (below) – some quotations from her reading during the term. An overload of P.G Wodehouse! This girl re-reads her favourite books all the time. One of these is Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse. I love this quotation she recorded in her book:

‘Nothing is ever finished and done with in this world. You may think a seed was finished and done with when it falls like a dead thing into the earth; but when it puts forth leaves and flowers next spring you see your mistake.’

Music Appreciation:

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

Finlandia is my favourite piece from this term, simply because it’s epic. It’s beautiful to play with an orchestra, and it sounds amazing when performed properly.

2. Tell about Sibelius and the piece Finlandia:

Jean Sibelius’s symphony Finlandia is regarded as the unofficial Finnish national anthem. Sibelius wrote it in 1899 when Finland was under Russian control, as a national call to stand up for their freedom in protest against an increasing Russian crackdown on the press. It had to be performed under a different name to escape Russian notice. It was accompanied with depictions of great moments in the history of Finland. It has been made into a hymn, and there is also a poem. Sibelius is regarded as the greatest Finnish composer ever.

Other exam content included describing a picture from this term’s Picture Study. Miss 16 chose to do a sketch from memory of St George and the Dragon by Rubens. She asked me not to post it anywhere as she thought her sketch was ‘Really bad!’

Describing a scene or character in French; a dictation passage, compare viruses & bacteria and various others.

Do you give exams to your children? Why do it? A good explanation is here – they’re not necessary but they may be very beneficial for both you & your students.

4 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason Exam Week

  1. I greatly appreciate you sharing this and the link at the end on reasons to give exams. It is helpful to see your daughter’s examples and very encouraging as I begin to homeschool my daughters this year. It must be so delightful to look back at past exams.


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