The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The differences between examining boards.

Ainan sat for the O level at the London Edexcel examining board. However, the Board we prepared for was the Singapore Cambridge Board.

Why did we do this? Well, we didn't know that there were any real differences. Indeed, we were told at the outset by someone who should know, that the Boards were much the same. This did not prove to be the case.

Ainan studied Singapore Chemistry textbooks for his O level. They cover the Singapore Cambridge syllabus. He did not study the London Edexcel syllabus - the one he actually went on to take.

About a week or two before the exam, we got a chance to look at the London Edexcel papers and syllabus. We were shocked at what we saw. The papers were VERY different in style and content. The London Edexcel questions were more difficult in many ways: they demanded greater chemical understanding and they covered topics and areas that are NOT covered in the Singapore Cambridge syllabus. As a result, I did not know whether it would be possible for Ainan to sit the exam at all. It was too late to do anything about it.

We tried to get London Edexcel textbooks to see if he could cover the major differences between the syllabuses at the last moment. We tried every major bookshop in Singapore - but NONE of them stocked ANY of the recommended texts. We thought this strange - but it just goes to show how major the differences between the two syllabi are. Clearly, the bookshops judged the London Edexcel recommended books useless for the local Singapore Cambridge syllabus - and vice-versa presumably, since they had elected not to stock any of them. We asked at Borders to check their ordering system - and not one of the books was available even to be ordered by Borders.

We elected, after some heartache, to go ahead with the exam, because Ainan would get bored if forced to wait another six months to sit for it. He went ahead and passed. So, it was a good decision. Yet, had the Board been the one he had prepared for - and not one distinctly different, I think he would have had a lot easier time of it.

We have learnt a lesson though: all exams are not the same - and the syllabi may differ greatly, contrary to expectations.

Anyway, Ainan passed the London Edexcel Chemisty O Level without even having seen the right textbooks. How did he do it? Well, he told me that he had to work out some of the questions himself, using his knowledge of chemistry in general as a guide, with no prior experience of the areas in question - in other words, he had to "wing it", as we used to say when I was younger.

(If you would like to read more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged seven years and four months, and his gifted brothers, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks).

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 7:54 PM 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape