All Souls College has announced that it is to abolish its traditional one-word entrance exam. In previous years, prospective entrants to the fellows-only College have had to sit a three-hour exam comprising solely a paper written on the subject of a single word. Words in the past have included ‘water’, ‘bias’, and ‘miracles’. The highly selective college, which admits only one or two new members per year, has scrapped the famous paper. The final decision was made by a majority of the 75 fellows at a College meeting last December. Sir John Vickers, Warden of All Souls, told Cherwell that in recent years the one-word exam has not proved particularly useful in determining candidate selection. According to Sir Vickers, fellows felt the remaining four papers comprising the entrance process created a better balance between general and subject-specific topics, and that the one-word essay had run its course. It is not without some sadness that the essay will be scrapped. The one-word essay was considered an important rite of passage for many All Souls fellows. Robin Briggs, a retired fellow of All Souls, sat for the exam in 1964, when the title was “Innocence”. However, Briggs believes that it was the essays in the specific subject of history which were the real basis for his election as a fellow. Briggs said he agrees with the decision to get rid of the one-word question and had argued in favour of it in the past, on the grounds that this particular question paper, one of the five given to each candidate, “rarely seemed to play a significant role in the final choice”. Speaking of the fellows’ decision, he said “I cannot possibly know why individuals voted as they did, but it does reflect the discussions by both the examiners and the college as a whole.” Elizabeth Chatterjee, one of All Souls’ newest fellows, said that the one-word paper had a “mythical status”. She and her fellow examinees in 2008 were assigned “Novelty”.