‘I thoroughly enjoyed it’: man sits GCSE maths exam at 92

·2-min read

A 92-year-old man is thought to have become the oldest person to sit a GCSE exam, after he completed a maths paper alongside a school hall full of 16-year-olds.

Derek Skipper took the exam at Comberton village college near Cambridge after completing a free online course that involved him using YouTube for the first time. He needed to use a magnifying glass to read the paper due to his poor eyesight, and said he ran out of time before the end, but was still hopeful for a level 4 or 5 result.

“It doesn’t matter two hoots about the result but I’d like to get a 4 or 5,” he told SWNS. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot about using a calculator. I think I found it easier than a lot of other people on the course.”

Skipper’s course tutor, Shane Day, said he hoped his story would inspire others to take up learning later in life. “I think it’s good thing for people to think, well, you’re never too old. It’s a lovely thing to do. He said he wants to keep his mind active, and this was far better than watching television,” Day said.

Skipper completed five hours of tuition a week over two sessions delivered by Zoom before taking the exam through an adult education course run by the Cam Academy Trust.

He said he decided to take the course to “keep himself occupied” after struggling to help a young friend who repeatedly failed her GCSE maths.

“I’m obviously a bit slower and I found that I switched off at times. My brain just stopped working for a minute or two,” he said. “I did run out of time, but I had a go at most of the questions except the ones I thought looked complicated, which I’d have gone back to if I’d had time.”

Skipper was awarded five school certificates when he was a teenager, including one in maths, and took his 1946 slide rule to his exam last week.

He sad he missed only one day at school during the second world war, when a bomb blast blew his front door on to his bicycle wheel and left him with a puncture, and he was equally strict on attendance this time round.

“He was always very attentive, always turned up on time,” Day said, adding that the previous oldest person he had taught was 74. “Derek was definitely the oldest I’ve taught, but we do get people in their 50s or 60s just doing it because it’s a nice thing to do, a nice way to spend an evening.”

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