“Put your things away, take out a sheet and take a pencil”. We have all heard this fateful sentence at least once during our schooling, signifying the time of a surprise test… Or rather, dictation. A dreaded test especially for the passage of the certificate of primary studies.

Established in 1866 by Victor Duruy, at that time Minister of Public Instruction under the Second Empire, the CEP was an examination intended for schoolchildren. Test carried out at the end of primary school, it assesses the student’s knowledge in order to validate his entry to college. It will then be abolished before being replaced by the college certificate in 1989 by Minister Lionel Jospin.

Among the many subjects to pass to obtain the certificate of primary studies, the French language had a major place. From oral expression to reading without forgetting writing, the latter revolved around written writing and dictation. For this test, the text is first read out loud for the first time, then dictated to the students and finally reread one last time.

Spelling, grammar, conjugation, lexicon, punctuation… Nothing is spared and each student must ensure that they practice the French language well. But, do you still have the same level of French as in college when you were young? Would you have scored the same if you took the dictation test again?

For example, during the CEP exam in 1960, students were subjected to the text of the author AndrĂ© Theuriet, with Sous-bois, taken from the short story L’automne dans le bois (1878). With your pen or keyboard, take the test and answer the 10 French questions in our slideshow.