Taken at sixteen, the 'O' levels used to be the first major examinations for British Schoolchildren.
The curriculum, in hindsight, seemed designed entirely to equip young gentlemen to become Colonial administrators or to work in the sort of companies that had 'Imperial' in their names.
The 'O'levels were followed two years later by 'A' levels, three or four specialist subjects that led to university.
All of these exams have now passed into history, replaced by continuously assessed diplomi in Hip-Hop DJing, Car Theft and Random Violence.
NB. Visitors are amused to discover that prostitute's cards in London phone boxes announce the advertiser's 'O' and 'A' Levels. Although I am sure that many of these young ladies have the very highest of academic qualifications, I regret to report that they are, in fact, proferring Oral or Anal services.