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The portions of the latter paper vary, in some degree, with the requirements of the department, as will be seen by the table of “Standards of Qualification,” given below. Candidates were generally required to answer two questions under each head. With regard to decimal arithmetic, the Commissioners state, " that the knowledge possessed by candidates has been, in the great majority of cases, defective. Many of the papers whicle have been set contain questions in division of decimals so framed as to present no difficulty whatever, except as to the position of the decimal point. Even these questions have been rarely attempted, and still more rarely attempted with success."
The number of candidates rejected for deficiencies in arithmetic was 89.
Few candidates have shown “ an accurate or intimate knowledge of book-keeping.” The number of rejections on account of failure in this subject alone was only 3, but in 24 other cases the deficiencies were sufficient to warrant the refusal of a certificate.
(d) Correspondence and Précis.-On the subject of correspondence, the Commissioners are silent; but they feel it their duty to make some remarks on précis-writing :
“Of the importance and utility of such an accomplishment, we cannot entertain the slightest doubt; and we believe that there is hardly any mode in which a clerk can render more efficient service to his superior in office than by presenting before him a succinct, faithful, and intelligent abridgment of any document or correspondence upon which questions may arise ; but we consider that it will not often occur that a candidate, unless he has previously been taught and exercised in this particular duty, will show any great proficiency therein ; and we find considerable practical difficulty in effectively examining persons in this requirement, owing to the length of time which must necessarily be occupied by a candidate, first in making himself master of the documents which he is called upon to abstract, and afterwards in concisely abstracting them. We are not prepared, however, to recommend the departments who have adopted
this particular subject of examination to dispense with it; as we hope that, when it is publicly and generally notified, those persons who are likely to enter into the public service will take proper steps for procuring the necessary instruction. In the case of competitive examinations, we think that the making a précis may be usefully introduced as one of the subjects, and that as it tests several important intellectual qualities, it should be valued highly in the relative distribution of marks assigned on these occasions.”
On these subjects, the Commissioners remark:
“ There are some other prescribed subjects of examination which have not a direct relation to the future employment of the candidates, but are intended as tests of education and intellect. We consider these to be exceedingly useful in determining the positive merits of a nominated candidate, and as indispensable in ascertaining the relative merits of candidates in a competitive examination. Moreover, if the examinations were exclusively in subjects specially connected with the duties of the departments, they would injuriously affect the general education of those who might be destined to enter the public service. Their attention would be mainly or entirely directed to those subjects, to the neglect of those branches of general knowledge which experience has shown to be most fitted for invigorating the intellect and maturing the judgment.”
The subjects which are considered tests that the candidate has received a liberal education, are
(a) Geography and History.
(6) Latin and Modern Languages. (a) Geography and History-On these subjects an amount of knowledge, certainly not exceeding what would be gained at -schools of the most moderate pretensions, has been received as sufficient.
“Questions have been set of very different degrees of difficulty, and a most erroneous idea would be formed as to the standard which has been fixed, were it supposed that any large proportion of a paper
had in a single instance been required to be answered. The rejections have been limited to cases in which the subjects were wholly omitted, or in which gross and discreditable ignorance was shown, with no accurate knowledge whatever to justify a favourable decision.”
For failure in geography combined with other subjects, 23 candidates have been rejected ; and for history, &c. 19.
(6) Latin and Modern Languages.—Passages for translation from English into other languages, have in several papers been printed with those intended for translation into English, but the former accomplishment has not been treated as essential in any instance, except where specially prescribed by the department. Nor has it been deemed necessary that all the passages set for translation into English should be rendered by the candidate. The rejections under this head were 25, of which 10 were for deficiencies in language simply.
Every candidate who has been examined at the offices of the Commission in London has been permitted to select, if he thought proper, other subjects in addition to those required for the situation to which he was nominated. The rules laid down with regard to these have been,-1. That, in the case of those who passed in the prescribed subjects, and acquitted themselves creditably in the extra subjects, honorary additions specifying the subjects and characterising, in the terms which appeared appropriate, the degree of proficiency displayed, should be made to the certificate of qualification ; and 2. That, in the case of those who either failed in the prescribed subjects, or did not show any acquaintance deserving commendation with those selected by themselves, no notice should be taken of the voluntary portion of the examination.”
The range of selection included French, German, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek, Book-keeping, History, Geography, and Elementary Mathematics. The following will show the form of certificate granted by the Commissioners :
Prescribed Subjects.-1. Writing from dictation. 2. Arithmetic (including Vulgar and Decimal Fractions). 3. Book-keeping.
Extra Subjects chosen by Extent of Knowledge No. of
the Candidates for volunCandidate.
displayed. tary Examination.
These voluntary examinations have clearly produced the best results, and the Commissioners cite case in particular where the bearer of an honorary certificate was immediately promoted. They
“Do not wish, however, to be understood as holding the opinion that an intellectual examination, however carefully conducted, affords a complete and unerring test of the qualifications of candidates for official employment. We admit that there are aptitudes for the transaction of business which cannot be discovered or measured by this process; but it is, nevertheless, certain that our examination furnishes the means of excluding the incompetent, and where competing examinations take place, or the candidate submits himself to voluntary examination in extra subjects, his intellectual qualities may, to a great extent, be accurately ascertained. In this manner, the departments are supplied with information as to the capacity and special acquirements of their clerks, and are better able to judge of the most advantageous mode of applying their services in the transaction of public business, and of the relative merits of parties, which have to be weighed in cases of promotion.”
Most of the examinations have been what are familiarly known as
pass " examinations. In some instances, however, the “competition” principle has been introduced with the best
The papers set at one of these examinations will be found below. It is pleasing to know that two competitors in the War Office examination being found equal, appointments were given to both of them. The competitive examination for supplementary clerkships in the department of the Council for Education was divided into two portions—“The first two days being devoted to subjects deemed of indispensable necessity, and two subsequent days to others selected as tests of intelligence and general education. Out of 31 candidates, 21 were excluded, as not having passed the preliminary examination; and to the 10 who were admitted to the final examination, appointments were given by the Lord President."
Without discussing the expediency of adopting the principle of open competition, as distinguished from examination, the Commissioners remark
That, both in the competitive examination for clerkships in our