The research focus of this study is adult refugee learners sitting the Lower Secondary Exam in written English, in Norway. Since 2014, the exam has been the same for all candidates, regardless of their background. In spring 2015, the majority group of exam candidates, ethnic Norwegian 10th grade learners, received the average grade 3.9, while the average exam grade for the adult refugee learners was 2.5. The gap in grades between the groups, and their difference in background and level of English proficiency, made the researcher wonder whether the language aims of the English curriculum, and the exam tasks, were adapted to the group of adult learners` aptitudes and abilities. A comparative study between 30 learners with a refugee background and 30 ethnic Norwegian 10th grade learners was conducted, spring 2016. To investigate the groups and find explanations for the difference in their exam results, a survey containing questions about learners` attitude and motivation towards English language and English – speaking culture was completed in both groups. The questionnaire used was an adapted version of Richard Gardner`s Attitude Motivation Test Battery (AMTB). The results from the survey confirmed the researcher`s conviction that there were important differences between the two groups of learners, and that these differences strongly affected the learners` possibilities for success in the written English exam. The 10th grade group was considerably more exposed to both English language and English- speaking culture than the adult group. The explanation for this result is the early start of English learning for Norwegian children, who learn English already from kindergarten age. In addition, English- speaking culture has been affecting young Norwegians for a longer period of time, through the American film and music industry in particular. The adult refugee learners generally report to having limited knowledge about English language and culture, and they signal significantly more classroom anxiety and feelings of shortcoming in their learning. However, – their attitude towards language and culture is very positive, and so is their motivation to learn English. This leads to the conclusion that in order to improve the adult group`s exam performance, the structure of their education and exam in English needs to be evaluated. And perhaps eventually, the present structure needs to be changed.