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Thread: two marks off a first

  1. #1
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    Default two marks off a first


    Well, I have found the following sentence that I don't understand:
    "I discovered that I was two marks off a first"

    Does it mean that I am not the only person in a certain situation?
    Could it be a misspelling and the sentence be "I discovered I was two marks off at first"?

    Thank you!

    Further reading leads me to think it has sth to do with exam results.
    Last edited by solfinker; 12-23-2017 at 03:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: two marks off a first

    Can you provide more context? It sounds like UK English. They use "marks" frequently.

    Without more context I'd guess that it means that the person was very close to (or two "points" or "ticks" away from) being successful at something ... maybe for the first time. Perhaps "first" is being used in the sense of "...that would be a first". Also could mean being close to achieving first place in a contest. Marks might mean a time measurement, e.g., 2 seconds (ticks); or points in a written score?
    Last edited by vicente; 12-23-2017 at 11:28 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: two marks off a first

    Hi solfinker!

    My best guess is that there's a typo and the correct phrase should've been: I discovered I was two marks off at first.

    Without context, I believe it means they were two point below the mark needed.

    Does it make any sense?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: two marks off a first

    Hi everyone!
    No, it's not a typo. It is part of an article written by Vicky Rhodes in The Guardian, and I have the whole article (about misophonia, the phobia of sound, she suffers from) in front of me now because it is used in a course in the Netherlands for people to improve their (British) English. The context is: "During another exam, a nearby pub had a delivery and the sound of barrels being rolled along by the whistling delivery men destroyed any chance of concentration. I discovered afterwards that I was two marks off a first."
    It is still a bit mysterious to me, but I guess that without the concentration problems she would have succeeded with the best results of the whole group, but that now either she was the third best, or she did not get an A qualification, or not even a B qualification. But since we use a different system for marking results of exams in the Netherlands, I am in doubt. Anyway, no typo. I hope someone else can provide the final clue....

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