My husband (Ben) sent me an e-mail the other day titled “1895 8th Grade Exam”. He told me to take a look at the e-mail and see if I could pass the exam. Ben said he might make a 20%. I told him that he was probably exaggerating. Well he wasn’t! I would probably make a big fat zero (okay, that is a little extreme, but I wouldn’t do very well)!! My husband and I, both have college degrees, but couldn’t even pass it without looking up the answers.
I am going to share the exam with you, but with a disclaimer!!!! There is some debate about its validity and whether it was intended for 8th graders. Experts agree that the exam fits in the time period, but may have been for adults more specifically teacher candidates. So whether the test is completely true or not, here is the test
8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of
'lie,' 'play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft... Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of
which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt
U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?
Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography,
etymology, and syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, sub vocals, diphthong, cognate letters, lingual’s
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'U.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name
the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell,
rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane,
fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.
Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America?
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver,
Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each?
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the
Regardless of the tests validity, it makes you think about what is being taught in our school system today. It also shows how teaching and content have changed over the years. What is an epochs and rod anyway? A teacher recently told me, that what was taught in Kindergarten is now being taught in Preschool (this pattern apparently continues in upper grades). I guess there is an extreme push for academic achievement, but with different content.
I am not a teacher, so I don’t know how this test would stack-up to what our kids are learning today. I would love to hear a teacher prospective on it?!?!
So how did you do on the test? Could you pass it? It just made me feel like I need to go back to school!