I actually don't think it is amusing to sneer at falling exam standards. (see the comment to Nige's post someone has already made). I write from the perspective of a parent of children who take these exams. I appreciate the list is a joke but it is so utterly demotivating to these children and students who work so hard, to read articles in newspapers and so on implying that the exams are so easy as to be worthless. And actually, they are not that easy. I defy Nige or his "cleverclogs" commenter to take one of the sample maths SATs papers that one of my daughters has to do over the holiday -- and these are at a lower age level than the examples given in Nige's list. They are not easy at all, far from it. It is so easy for people who have long since put exams behind them to belittle those struggling with them today.
Thank you, Maxine. Not so very long ago, I was tested to within an inch of my life in the American public education system, and while I always did well (at least in verbal/English things; math is a whole other ballgame), I can tell you they're NOT as easy as everyone always moans they are. Why, back in THEIR day, on had an hour to summarize Proust, prove Newton's laws, translate Virgil from Latin to French and then to English, all while trudging up two hills in the snow.
I didn't read it that way, Maxine. Tough tests are one thing, and I'm sure there are plenty of schools that maintain high standards. But there are also schools that don't, where the aim is to get the students moved into the next grade whether or not they have actually learned anything. I have nothing but sympathy for kids who have to slave to make acceptable grades. But I also have sympathy for kids who are being deprived of an education by schools that hold them to no standard.