I wrote before about the system of school-leaving exams in Hungary. As I mentioned there, before going off on a bit of a rant about the problems with the system, students take three required exams (History, Math, and Hungarian) plus two exams of their choice. One of the options they can choose is Civilization. The full name of this exam is Angol célnyelvi civilizáció (Civilization of the English-speaking World). In my school, this is one of the subjects I teach – the American side, at least. One of my Hungarian colleagues teaches the British side. So, if any students choose this subjects as one of their optionals, I am the teacher who sets the exam for them (along with my Hungarian counterpart). For the last few years, I’ve been the person in my school responsible for assembling the exam materials. It is a bit of work, but it’s the type of organizational paperwork that I enjoy.
The Civilization exam is a bit different from the other exams in that there is no written part, only an oral test. The test is made up of twenty (or more) different topics (tétel in Hungarian), which each student draws at random. Each topic is made up of two parts, A and B. The A part of the exam is simply the name of a topic, for example “Politics in the USA” or “Sports in the UK”. The student has time to prepare an outline about this topic and then give a speech about it. The B part of the exam is an “authentic material” such as a graph, a chart, a short article, or maybe a poem, along with a few questions about it. The student has time to examine the material and figure out the answers, and just has to tell them.
The students have 30 minutes to prepare as a minimum, but due to the way the exams are scheduled it’s usually much longer, an hour or more. They’re supposed to use this time to prepare the notes they’ll use to speak about the A and B topics. The exam itself is 15 minutes, with 10 for the A part and 5 for the B.
The exam is worth 50 points all together. The A part is worth 30 points: 20 for content, 5 for structure, and 5 for vocabulary and use of language. The B section is 20 points: 15 for content and 5 for vocabulary and use of language.
Here is the collection of topics which I assembled for last year’s exam:
2012 Civilization exam
Several (okay, most) of the pictures didn’t come so well when I uploaded the file to Google docs, but all of the links to the original sources are there.