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Severe test — exam without notes (6)


I believe the answer is:


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Here is my best explanation:

'severe test' is the definition.

(I've seen this before)

'exam without notes' is the subsidiary indication.

'exam' becomes 'oral' (spoken academic test).

'without' is an insertion indicator.

'notes' becomes 'de' (**).

'oral' placed around 'de' is 'ordeal'.


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This clue was last seen in The Times

(Other definitions for ordeal that I've seen before include "Distressing experience", "Prolonged distressing experience", "Harrowing experience", "Trial; nightmare", "Difficult experience that tests endurance", "Severe trial", "Tribulation", "Difficult and testing experience", "Torment" and "A difficult and harrowing experience".)

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