Mr Gibb said that he had discussed sample test questions at length with his advisers, questioning whether they were too tough for 11-year-olds.
They included the question about whether after was a preposition or a subordinating conjunction in a particular sentence.
Mr Gibb told the Brighton College Education Conference: “I looked at the very question I was asked on Radio 4 and discussed it with my advisers which is why I was surprised I got it wrong.”
Children absorb information, he said, and would be able to answer questions about spelling, punctuation and grammar if they were taught well.
Mr Gibb said that local authorities had not been swift enough to tackle failure in the past although he conceded that some academies had performed poorly or failed.
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