The Aptitude Test Kid – Nadia Lines

The aptitude test kid knows
that if she cannot remember
the conjugation of être
her parents will sell their home.

The aptitude test kid knows
she holds her brother’s fate
in the pen in her palm.

What alphabet is Russian written in?
She sounds out the answer,
finger by finger.

How many tenses are there in French?
What’s the rent in the school’s catchment area?
What are the differences between Punjabi and Gujarati?
How many zeros in a mortgage?

The aptitude test kid knows.
The aptitude test kid spent her summer
reciting the answers by heart.

She knows how to decode language which endings
mean what:
the parents is a plural noun and the child is singular.

She sat at a desk
and learned
te amo, je t’aime
but has never heard them said
since the letter that gave her
the words she wished she was allowed to forget.

The look on her parents’ faces was untranslatable.
The aptitude test kid
knows every word for sorry
but pronounces each one of them




Nadia Lines was an Orwell Youth Prize Senior Winner in 2019, responding to the theme ‘A Fair Society?’. We asked her where she got her inspiration for ‘The Aptitude Test kid’ and what motivates her to write: 


What was the inspiration behind your piece?
This poem was directly inspired by the experiences of a very close friend of mine. I love learning, but I’m very concerned by the academic pressures facing young children, as well as the fact that many are unable to access a good education without facing immense challenges.

Why did you pick the form you did?
I love words, and for me, the poem is a great chance to play and experiment with them. My subject matter was language, and so poetry seemed to be the best way to discuss this.

‘Why I Write’
I write because I enjoy it. Language is fascinating and I want to find ways to give words new power.

Advice to fellow young writers:
Don’t be afraid to try out new forms. I only came to poetry after years of writing stories. No form is too new or too strange- give them all a go.