Thursday, 14 March 2013


Question Paper Analysis and Answer Key

This year's SSLC English Examination was not at all an easy walkover for most of the students. For the English medium students, it was OK. But for the common majority and the students from the rural schools it was the opposite case. Many questions puzzled them. Unfamiliar question types like “Report of a Debate” and “Describing a Night” were examples. The wordings and style of most questions were complicated and beyond the comprehension of the students. There was a 'technical' error of misplacing hints and even a more serious error like spelling mistake (see Q.20 hints)!

At the same time some students and teachers feel that it was a “standard” question paper with innovative changes. They believe that it was a remarkable deviation from the traditional pattern and that it catered to the creative skills of the students

Questions 1-6
  1. “To James Mortimer, M.R.C.S., from his friends of the C.C.H” (and the date “1884”)
  2. Sherlock Holmes had a well-polished, silver plated coffee pot in front of him and it reflected everything behind him.
  3. “ I believe you have eyes in the back of your head”
  4. They missed the visitor and had no idea of the purpose of his visit. Now they got the visitor's walking stick which might give them some hints about him. So the stick gained importance.
  5. The task assigned to Watson was to reconstruct the visitor by examination of the stick.
    (this question was a little embarrassing to many students. It could be in simpler words)
  6. practitioner

Questions 7-10
  1. Ten hours of heavy rain made the scorpion crawl beneath the sack of rice
  2. “parting with his poison”
  3. “he risked the rain again”
  4. any visual image (eg. Sack of rice, steady rain, dark room etc)

Questions 11-14
  1. the song fell to earth
  2. The speaker could not follow the the flight of the song because the flight of a song was very fast and his sight was not so keen and strong to follow it . (the speaker believes that nobody has so keen and strong a sight to follow the flight of a song. )
  3. aabb
  4. any line and suitable justification

Questions 15-18
  1. can you help us, Gandhiji?
  2. Because the followers of Tagore knew that he would not go against the advice of Gandhiji.
  3. “ Are you not comfortable that you have come out from your resting room?”
  4. No Gandhiji could not compel Tagore to take rest because he was impressed by Tagore's commitment to his goal.
Questions 19-26(discourses)
(This part of the question paper was remarkably different from the usual question papers. At the same time it caused a lot of confusion and frustration among the students. The style and wordings of the questions were very much complicated . The question setter seemed to have forgotten the majority of common and average students writing the SSLC Examination.)

  1. A. Write up
    scores may be given for
  • correct form of the discourse
  • content size
  • sequencing of ideas
  • relevance of the points discussed
  • quality of language
B. Review of the play “The Beggar and the King”
(This type of question was quite unexpected to the majority of students. Earlier, there was heated discussions even among the teachers in the cluster meetings and DRG/SRG training sessions on the suitability of asking a question on writing a review in the SSLC question paper. Writing a review could be made a classroom process rather than an item in the public examination question paper.)
  1. Letter
    scores may be given for
  • correct format of the letter
  • content size
  • sequencing of ideas
  • quality of language
    This letter would be the most familiar and the easiest of all discourses. The misplaced hints below this question was surely a distraction for many students.
  1. Description of the Night
scores may be given for
  • A suitable title
  • logical sequencing of ideas
  • cohesion and coherence
  • quality of language
    Description can be considered a comparatively new question. But students were certainly confused at such a question.
  1. Speech
scores may be given for
  • A proper beginning
    (addressing the audience, introduction of the topic etc.)
  • proper development and sequencing of ideas
  • relevance of the points discussed
  • proper conclusion
  • content size
  • quality of language
    A speech was expected. But the wordings and style of question was very tough.
  1. Report of the debate
    This question was never expected. There was no such question in the question pool prepared by the SCERT. There was no hint about such a question in the evaluation source-book prepared by SCERT. This had to be avoided.
  2. Profile
  3. Conversation

Questions 26 – 30

  1. Blindness
  2. If on a winter's Night a Traveller
  3. Paulo Coelho
  4. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. 411

Questions 31-35
In this part also many questions were vague and couldn't be properly answered by the students. The most confusing question was Q.33 (a) and (d)

  1. Editing
    1. met
    2. boys
    3. finally
    4. where
    5. was taken
  1. Reported Speech
    1. The hotel keeper asked the author where he was going
    2. The author replied that he was going out for a walk in the night
  1. Incomplete Conversation
    1. ?
    2. don't you?
    3. When will he be back?
    4. ?
  1. Use of Phrasal Verbs
Here also there is a confusion in the instruction. Students are required to use the correct tense form of the phrasal verbs. But the instruction reads “Fill in the blanks with suitable phrases from the box given below”. Most students filled the blanks with the phrasal verbs without any change of it.
    1. Went on
    2. turned down
    3. came across
  1. Word Pyramid : Expansion of a Noun Phrase
                                                Head Noun
    Determiner+Head Noun
    Determiner+Qualifier+Head Noun 
    Determiner+Qualifier+Noun+Prepositional Phrase 
    Determiner+Qualifier+Noun+Prepositional Phrase+Clausal Element

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Second Term Exam - Answer key


Answer Key

1 The period of the bet (confinement) will terminate at 12 O' clock tomorrow. The banker will have to give 2 millions to the lawyer if the lawyer remains in confinement until then.
2 The old man is on the verge of bankruptcy now. He has to give two millions to the lawyer tomorrow as a result of the bet. That is why he said 'Cursed bet!'
3 mutter
4 'The one means of being saved from bankruptcy and disgrace is the death of that man!'
5 The other man / lawyer is only forty now. He will get two millions, he will marry, enjoy life, will gamble on the Exchange. These thoughts made the old man so jealous of the other man.
6 The poet reminds/warns the ones who are successful by telling that 'success walks hand in hand with failure along the Hollywood boulevard'. So those who are successful must be always on their guard.
( Those who are successful must be always on their guard because success walks hand in hand with failure along the Hollywood boulevard)
7 Hollywood film world is a fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes, they never feel any pain, they never really die.
8 The poet means that celluloid heroes will live in the minds of people forever.
9 'success walks hand in hand with failure
Along the Hollywood boulevard'
10 We don't hear children cry for food in the wood
11 It's the duty of every man to help the suffering people. Those who turn away without helping the poor suffering people are selfish.
12 “I see no woman, white with care”
woman – white – with (Alliteration - repetition of the initial sounds of words in a line of poetry)
'w' sound is repeated in the beginning of the words in the line. So it is alliteration.
13 He who shuns the poor creatures sad and wan.
14 The fighting was getting too dangerous for the soldier. So he decided to make a move away from the battle field.
15 Yes, the battle was a severe one. Guns were firing, and shells and bullets were flying about everywhere.
16 The soldier was trying to run away from the war front. That is why the commanding officer got angry.( The commanding officer feared that his cowardice would be exposed!)
17 The commanding officer always stays at back and the soldier is so far back already.
18 The officer is a coward, he doesn't go to the war front.
19 Palawan Fate
20 Clay Bird
21 Claudia Llosa
22 South Africa
23 Poetry, Karmayogi

30 a) where
b) took
c) qualities
d) were given
e) served

31 a) for
b) the
c) and
d) of
e) under

32 a) Hello ! Where are you going ?
b) is it ?
c) you will get two millions / you can become a millionaire. etc.
d) stay inside / wait a little more, etc.

33 1. 'both …. and' combines two noun phrases
eg.,Both Sunil and Binoy are good friends
2. 'and' combines two adverbs
eg., Messi hits quickly and forcefully
  1. 'but' combines two adjectives (contradictory in nature)
eg., My friend is lazy but intelligent.
  1. 'either … or' combines two verbs
eg., Jubin can either sit here or go out.

34 a) came across
     b) went through
     c) look after 
      d) gave up

35 a) The servant requested the beggar to go away.
    b) The beggar replied that he would not go.

Get a pdf copy of the Answer Key

Courtesy-Yunus Salim P.V , H.S.A , Kunnamangalam HSS Kozhikode

Friday, 28 September 2012

Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat -an Analysis

What is the meaning of this absurd poem? This is a question that comes to the mind of the most of teachers and learners at the school while reading the poem 'Skimbleshanks The Railway cat by T.S Eliot. It is a natural response of any one when he tries to catch the message of a literary piece easily by the shortest way.

Nice. The first thing we can do for understanding the basic idea of the poem is to see it as a simple entertaining rhyme. Forget that T.S Eliot was the greatest philosopher-poet who wrote the heavy 'Waste Land'. Here he is a simple minded traveller who observed the movement of a cat in a railway carriage. Let's take it easy that he wrote the poem based on this silly experience. In this poem, TS Elliot describes the cat (Skimbleshanks) as a normal human person.

Now we start the journey with the poet at the railway station. The Night Mail is ready to start. But it seems that everybody is restless and their murmuring and confused movements give us a feeling that they are waiting for some one to give a “green signal” for the journey. At last when it was 11.42 we see Skimble coming out of the luggage van and the signal goes “All Clear”. The train is set for the North.

Throughout the journey whenever you open your eyes or wherever the train stops you can see the cat somewhere on the train or out on the platform. The cat's presence makes an impression that he is in charge of the train. The poet presents the cat as the most important one on the train. He is attributed with the roles of a supervisor, stationmaster's friend or a patrolling police officer. He is present at the bagmen playing cards, he roams in the first class as well as the third class. He examines every passenger and we may feel that he never aproves of any riot. Naturally the passengers are quiet at night and it leaves an impression that he is responsible for such a calm atmosphere.

While you are going to your bed in your cabin you see the cat behind the guard. It may indicate that it is he who made the guard to ask your preference of weak or strong tea in the morning. Even when you sleep peacefully the cat continues its 'rounds' on the train. The poet makes witty comments on the cat's habit of drinking scotch whisky to make his night watch more vigilant. At every station the cat gets out of the train and refresh himself. In the morning whe you reach your station you can see Skimble in front of you bidding good bye to you. He gives you a wave of his long brown tail and tells you “ I'll see you again!”.

This is the substance of the poem. In other words, the poet describes the importance and significance of Skimbleshanks and presents him as the most important passenger aboard the train. Eliot portrays how the cat caters to the needs of the passengers and the general security of the train.

Now if you want to interpret the poem at a higher intellectual level you are free to do so. In the light of the political situations in Europe at the time of writing this poem, one critic may see the cat as the supervisor who sees everything that everyone does. The cat can be then depicted as a dictator who controls everything in his country. "He will watch everywhere in the train and he sees what you are thinking."

The cat can be a mysterious character who is funny or silly in appearance but serious in behaviour. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Onam Examination Question Analysis

It is for the first time we have a common question paper for the state for the terminal examinations. It is helpful for the teachers and learners to have a clear idea about the pattern of question paper that SCERT wanted to frame.

Now let us discuss the questions and their relevance

In Class 10 question paper the most confusing question is the last one. Analysis of the sentence pattern!

Many of us are aware that the pattern mentioned in the question paper is the functional labeling of words/phrases used in the sentence. But confusion still exists when many teachers and students mix up the phrase structure with the functional labeling.

To be more clear let us look at the two types of patterns/labeling

1. Phrase structure
 We know that a sentence consists of many Phrases (a single word also is called a phrase here ) namely Noun Phrase (NP) Verb Phrase (VP) Adjectival Phrase(AdjP) Adverbial Phrase (AdvP) Prepositional Phrase (PP) etc.

eg. Indians love Cricket (NP +VP) --> Indians + love Cricket
Here in the NP we have only a Noun (NP) ie Indians
In the VP we have again a VP ie 'love' and another NP ie Cricket 
This means the VP---> V+NP

2. Functional labeling
Let us analyse the same sentence to see what is the function of each of these Phrase in the sentence

The first NP Indians  functions as the Subject of the sentence.
Then we have another VP love which functions as the Verb . Again we have another NP cricket  which functions as the object  in the sentence.

Now we know that mixing up two types of pattern will end in chaos.

That means, when analysing  pattern of the sentence Indians love cricket we can eitherWe can say the phrase structure of the sentence is NP+VP . If you want to go to the next level of phrase structure you can also say
Sentence --> NP+VP
VP ---> V+NP

or We can say that the Phrases in the sentence Indians love cricket
functions as Subject +Verb + Object

Now let us analyse other sentences in the question paper.

1. They like Sachin and other players
    a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP (VP=V+NP+NP)
    b. Functional Labeling Subject + Verb + Object (+object)

2. Sachin is not playing in the current Srilankan series
     a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP+PP
     b. Functional Labeling = Subject + Verb +Adverbial

3. Indians give Sachin great respect
     a. Phrase Structure = NP +VP (VP=V+NP+NP)
     b. Functional Labeling Subject + Verb + indirect Object + Direct object

Some other questions that need discussion are given below

  1. Letter of apology
    Many teachers are confused about the form to be used in this letter. Formal/official or informal?
In my viewpoint, the form is less important here. Even then, an informal letter will do because it is a letter of apology. What has such a letter to do with officiality? Moreover, in all discourses we aim at testing the language proficiency of our learners.

  1. Preparing a paragraph
    This question is also an instance of dispute among teachers and learners. It is based on the extended reading passage. The SCERT guidelines state that upto 15 percentage of the questions can be expected from the extended reading portions. That may be why this question paper contains 12 marks from the Extended Reading portions.
About this question : the main dispute is whether to sequence the points in the proper order first and then to write in a paragraph. Here also my question is why to repeat the same process of writing the same stuff in sequencing first and then in writing another paragraph.....?

After all, the objective of this question is
  • to test whether the learner has comprehended the idea of the reading passage
  • to make him/her write a cohesive paragraph using proper linkers 

    Therefore simply writing the sequenced sentences into a paragraph will not be enough here. (Let the learners add , if they know and wish, more details). The proper use of linkers to connect the ideas is a must. The paragraph should be systematically organised.

     31.  a. Arent you? / dont you?
    Here too to be precise the answer is Arent you? look at the reply of 
    course I am.
    b. in / through

    which is more accurate express through or express in columns?