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Lynn Gold, who has been examining and writing content for Cambridge English exams since 1974, recounted stories from the early days of her career during a recent trip to the archives at Cambridge University Press & Assessment. The visit was organised to mark Lynn’s career spanning five decades.
“It’s all about the people!” recounts Lynn, when asked about the happy memories from marking Cambridge English exams over the years. Lynn joined representatives from Cambridge for a tour of the archives to mark her decision to finish working with us. Artefacts on display included original exam papers from 1913, braille question papers, newsletters and other historical education documents.
Lynn has been Principal Examiner or item writer for a range of Cambridge English
Qualifications including Young Learners, B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency and BULATS (Business Language Testing Service). She was also instrumental in the design of the specification and marking of Skills for Life Writing.
Unlikely journey to the centre of Cambridge English
Lynn’s journey into examining for Cambridge English was an unlikely one. She originally taught Latin, Greek, and English in a grammar school in Harrow. After moving to Cheltenham, she got a teaching job in an FE college, which had just set up its own English as a Foreign Language department. She took the next step in the early 1970s when a letter from Bill Shephard, who was running the Cambridge English exams with only a handful of staff, arrived asking people to train as an examiner. Although she was reluctant at first, colleagues told her she should take the plunge, and it was a choice she did not regret.
“The next thing I knew I was sent a letter and went on a training course,” commented Lynn. She continued, “I never looked back and the idea of grasping new opportunities from Cambridge was something I really took on board.”
Lynn worked closely with Bill Shephard in the years that followed and described him as a “very kind and well-meaning man”, and someone who had a huge impact on her career. She has many anecdotes from over the years including taking part in a training course which coincided with the FA cup final, which meant participants kept “nipping out to see the score!”. She also enjoyed the regular meet ups in Churchill College, Cambridge with the other examiners.
A constant cycle!
Lynn fondly recalls the early days of grade reviews in Cambridge which at the time was a very manual process. It involved a representative from Cambridge jumping on their bikes and cycling between sites in Cambridge to deliver papers. During her visit to Cambridge in June 2023, Francesca Woodward, managing director for English at Cambridge University Press & Assessment thanked Lynn for all of her hard work and loyalty to the Cambridge family over the years.
Cris Betts, Director of Assessment at Cambridge worked with Lynn over the years. He said:
“Lynn has made a huge contribution to the Cambridge English exams, and we wish her the very best for a well-earned rest from marking, item-writing and post-test investigations. Over the years she has vetted and proofed literally thousands of our exam tasks and played a significant role in making the Cambridge English exams what they are today. But perhaps most importantly she’s been a fantastic person to work with and from everyone in Cambridge we thank her for her hard work.”
Lynn’s visit to the archives coincided with the celebration to mark 110 years of the Cambridge English exams. The first ever Cambridge English exam was taken by three people in June 1913.