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Old 09-08-2009, 01:07 AM   #1
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Default Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

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[Note: answers at link]

This is the 8th grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, Kansas. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, Kansas, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Imagine a college student who went to public school trying to pass this test today, even if the few outdated questions were modernized. This gives the saying of an early 20th century person that "She/He only had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning!

PLEASE NOTE: There is a lot of controversy over this test - in particular whether it was administered as a test for eight graders. We have used the evidence presented at the Smoky Valley Genealogy Society's website. Their notice is presented below.


The following document was transcribed from the original document in the collection of the Smoky Valley Genealogy Society, Salina, Kansas. This test is the original eighth-grade final exam for 1895 from Salina, KS. An interesting note is the fact that the county students taking this test were allowed to take the test in the 7th grade, and if they did not pass the test at that time, they were allowed to re-take it again in the 8th grade.
KSGENWEB INTERNET GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY COPYRIGHT NOTICE: In keeping with the KSGenWeb policy of providing free information on the Internet, this data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other gain. Copying of the files within by non-commercial individuals and libraries is encouraged. Any other use, including publication, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission by electronic, mechanical, or other means requires the written approval of the file's author.

April 13, 1895
J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.

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 do, lie, lay, 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, one hour)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 feet deep, 10 feet long, and 3 feet wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 pounds, what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 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 cost of 6720 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 cents per sq. foot?

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 around 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:


ORTHOGRAPHY (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.

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, super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Ball, mercy, sir, 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 Fermandez, Aspinwall, and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give 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 inclination of the earth.
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Old 09-08-2009, 02:03 PM   #2
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I bet most kids could quote the last 5 American Idol winners off the top of their heads, though. We are much more educated today.
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Old 09-08-2009, 03:42 PM   #3
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No, but I bet I can find all that information on the internet in a lot less than 4 hours and 45 minutes!
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Old 09-08-2009, 04:10 PM   #4
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http://www.snopes.com/language/document/1895exam.asp Snopes won't let you copy and paste from their pages anymore, but they do have a nice writeup, with answers. (Yep, DG, a lot less than 4 hours and 45 minutes! ) Basically, it boils down to have you studied this very specialized information recently, so that you're familiar with it? And look at what isn't on there: no algebra or other higher math, no literature of any kind, no history other than a few American highlights, no science, no foreign languages. What was considered important back then is not what is considered important now.

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Old 09-08-2009, 04:55 PM   #5
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It's not hard to understand why farmers and ranchers felt time at school was wasted time for their children, is it?
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Old 09-08-2009, 05:20 PM   #6
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Well, if you were a farmer and you needed to know how much cash to expect from your crops, then the stuff about bushels per wagonload and price per bushel make a lot of sense.

But when was the last time you bought a bushel of anything? Once or twice a year, maybe, at the farm stand? I have a mental picture that a bushel is about so big, but I can't translate that into pounds of tomatoes, or cubic feet, without looking it up. I don't need to -- I CAN look it up.

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Old 09-08-2009, 05:45 PM   #7
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Just how many Americans actually completed eighth grade in 1895?

Useful skills back then, by my estimation.

Cooking from scratch, sewing, weaving, knitting. Sizing up a mater patch, or peach tree, and figuring out how many jars needed to preserve it. Weeding, planting, fighting bugs in the garden and fields. Weights and measures. Woodworking/carving. Mechanical inclination. Home nursing/doctoring. Reading, some basic math, with that you can do higher math by THINKING about the fundamentals you already have, not just by being taught. Copernicus, Galileo, immediately come to mind. Some geography, mostly local. Etc., etc., etc. We got where we are in society with a whooooole lot of people not having an eighth grade education.

Just like my kids don't need a business course in computers ('cause they can learn it at home), neither did those kids.
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:42 PM   #8
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Dunno how many people completed 8th grade. Probably a larger proportion in the cities rather than in the country. My maternal grandmother only went that far, as it happens.

In the last of the Little House books, Laura gets a teaching certificate without ever graduating from high school, much less with a degree in Education. This was one of the Dakota Territories, so standards may have been looser than Back East. From the description of the certification test, it was much like the OP.

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Old 09-08-2009, 07:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rb. View Post
Just how many Americans actually completed eighth grade in 1895?

Useful skills back then, by my estimation.

lol. I skimmed through the text, not fully reading the year, and I was wondering why you guys thought 1985 was so different than now. Sure we had break dancing, robocop, and fox body mustangs ... so much for my 8th grade education.
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1895, 8th, grade, passed

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