On Examinations by Sir Winston Churchill
Think it out 1..
1. Does the author like .. The author loathed examinations. The first few lines express his dislike for examinations quite vividly. Particularly, the sentence “These examinations were a great trial to me.” expresses the way he dreaded examinations.
2. Mention the subjects .. Latin and Mathematics were the two subjects dearest to the examiners.
3. What subjects … The author loved History, Poetry, and Writing Essays.
4. What reason does the writer give .. In a lighter vein, the author says that the examiners hadn uncanny ability to set questions from the topics the author was not good at and ignore those sections in which the author was good at. This contributed to his poor show in the examinations.
5. What did the writer … The writer wrote nothing, except the question number 1 with two brackets ( ).
6. What was the sad spectacle .. The author could write nothing in the answer script. He sat through the two hours gazing at his blank answer paper that had a few dots and some smudges. This was the sad spectacle for him.
7. What was the writer’s position … The writer’s position was right at the bottom of the list.
8. Whom does he give the credit .. He did poorly in the entrance examinations, but the Principal Dr. Welldon chose to ignore his abysmal performance and gave him a seat. So, he gave the Principal the credit for his entry to Harrow.
9. What does he mean by .. The author’s name started with ‘S’. Because the names were listed in alphabetical order, his name got pushed to the third osition from the bottom. The letter ‘S’ comes lower in the English alphabet, and this put the authour in a disadvantage.
10. Why did he become .. He was third from the bottom. The two boys succeeding him left the school for their own reasons, leaving the author at the bottom of the pile.
11. What is the custom …. In Harrow, the boys have to walk past the Master of the school in the school yard, and answer their names one by one.
12. What is the custom … In Eton, the boys stand in clusters, and have to answer the call by lifting their hats.
13. ‘Why he is last…’ … The author’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill was a wellknown public figure of great repute. The visitors expected the author, being the son of such an illustruous man, to be ahead of others. This is why, they were bemused to see him at the end of the line.
Think it out 2 ..
- What kind of — The most meritorious students were taught Latin and Greek at Harrow.
- Which students were taught.. Those who were academically the dullest, considered the stupidest, were taught English.
- How does the writer … The author held Mr. Somervell in high regard as an English teacher. His pedagogy was unique and very thorough and interesting for those who studied English under him.
- What part of English grammar …. Mr. Somervell laid great emphasis on the nature and use of ‘clauses’ while teaching grammar.
- How did he score .. English proficiency gave the author an edge over others. He used his knowledge of English to counter the feeling of being a laggard in Latin and Greek. He could reassert himself among his friends using his skill.
- Why was he biased … The author knew English skill was the key to upward mobility in life. It made it easy to earn a living, and get past others in profession.
Think it out 3 ..
- How did the boys enjoy .. The author had a fair share of fun and frolic in the swimming pool. He was naughty and very playful with his friends. He munched buns in between, thoroughly relished the experience.
- What kind of pranks … At times, the author used to get behind his naked friends and push them into the pool.
- On one occasion, he pushed a boy, standing apparently lost in some thought, in. The author clutched his towel which effectively made the boy naked.
- The boy was furious at the author, and took his revenge by pushing him to the deepest part of the pool.
- What did the author learn .. After the raucous scene, some boys told the author that his victim was Amery, a boy in sixth form. He was the Head of the House, besides being good in football and in Gym. In a nutshell, Amery was a boy of much clout.
- How did the author apologize .. The author walked up to Amery besieged with fear, and softly said he was sorry. The author also told him that he had thought Amery belonged to the Fourth Form.
- Did the matter … The matter ended in a jolly note when the author engaged in some jocular talk, saying that Amery’s small frame had made him think he belonged to a junior class. He also told that his own father, an eminent public figure, had a small frame too.
Think it out 4 …
- “three years difference in …..” .. In the school, the author felt both nervous and frightened for having played a prank on Amery, who was three years senior to him in Harrow. In his later life, he rubbed shoulders with Amery in the British cabinet, thus proving that age does not matter as much in grown up days.
- How did the writer … The author quickly outgrew his academic mediocrity, and excelled in English, drawing effusive praise from the Headmaster. He also qualified in the tough army entrance test, outclassing quite a few senior boys. So, weakness in Latin and Greek were left easily behind and the author became a top performer.
- How did he win .. In an open intra-school competition, the author flawlessly recited before the Headmaster all the 1200 lines of Macaulay’s ‘Lays’ of Rome’. This outstanding performance won him a prize.
- What were the author’s ….. Besides the success in English recitation and in Army entrance, the author, in one Geography examination, drew an immaculate map of New Zealand. This impressed the teacher greatly, who gave high marks to the author.
- How did the writer prepare himself .. It was known that the aspirants will be asked to draw the map of a country. It was a tough call, as the world has so many countries with their very different maps. The author went for a lottery. He put all the countries in his hat, and drew out one. It was New Zealand. Coincidentally, this as the country whose map drawing came in the question paper. The author drew a nice map and got top marks.
- Why does he call .. It was a gamble that paid off. Out of nearly 150 countries in the Atlas, to be lucky to get the correct choice is nearly impossible. So, it was an en’plein – a gamble.