We are satisfied that the examinations were fair and valid and credible, Umalusi council chairman Prof John Volmink said. Picture: Jason Boud

London - Teenagers are abandoning basic grammar and punctuation and resorting to text message slang in British A-levels and GCSEs, examiners have revealed.

They reported that capital letters were used “erratically” in GCSE English papers by a “surprising” number of pupils. In some instances, capitals “did not feature at the beginning of names but did appear randomly in the middle of words”.

Other common errors included writing one word instead of two – such as ‘infact’, ‘aswell’, ‘incase’, ‘eachother’ – and writing two words instead of one – ‘no where’, ‘country side’, ‘neighbour hood’. Even A-level markers bemoaned “basic lapses in the use of written English’ by students in coursework essays”, adding that some pupils “even lack paragraphs and punctuation”.

In GCSE history, some pupils believed the Anglo-Saxons were pre-historic and that the NHS was a 19th century creation.

Examiners questioned the judgment of teachers in allowing pupils to write English coursework on children’s books and the Twilight vampire novels by Stephenie Meyer. The reports from the OCR and Edexcel exam boards also revealed that markers were increasingly struggling to decipher what pupils had written.

Some youngsters lost marks because examiners found it impossible to understand their handwriting. Edexcel GCSE examiners lamented “textspeak, colloquialisms and errors such as ‘this would of mean’t’.”

They added: “There has also been a noticeable trend in the past few years of a deterioration in handwriting. Students now rarely write at length and at speed, apart from in examinations and would perhaps benefit from more practice.”

When double-checking teachers’ marking of coursework, examiners also found a number of candidates awarded good marks despite “many lapses in grammatical accuracy, phrasing and paragraphing”.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has introduced a range of measures to improve writing standards, including a new test of spelling and punctuation for 11-year-olds.

At GCSE level, written exams will for the first time award specific marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar. - Daily Mail