Are you smarter than an 8th grader in 1895?

June 19, 2010

My sweet future mother-in-law, Diane, loves to forward emails.  I tease her about this and she insists that she only sends the interesting ones. 

She sent a real doozy last week, which sparked a great conversation on today’s educational system. 

Supposedly, someone got his hands on an 8th grade final exam from 1895, and don’t you feel foolish for discounting Granny’s 8th grade education, dummy? 

Snopes filed this one under “false” but went on to NOT say that this test is not an accurate representation of 1895 standards.   Instead, those beloved Mikkelsons write about what the difference in test standards actually means, so I still don’t know if this is a real test from 1895 or not. 

What I do know is that these questions measure true knowledge better than the multiple choice answer-fests I grew up with and that dominate the education landscape still.  I continue to believe that the advent of the Scantron Age, while making teachers’ lives easier, did a tremendous disservice to generations of students.  Diane, a retired teacher, agrees.

Regardless of whether this is real and accurate or not, I think it’s interesting to review.  Depending on your age, you may not remember a time when questions required essay response rather than filling in a bubble. 

How would you do?

“What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895.”  Allegedly.

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 7percent per annum.
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, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
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, 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 Orinoco .
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 earth.

Get the ANSWERS.


4 Responses to “Are you smarter than an 8th grader in 1895?”

  1. Magda Says:

    I have HUGE issues with the American education system. I often get angry about all that has been going on. I won’t rant on about it in here.

    I didn’t know what a Scantron test was until I moved to the states. We moved here after I finished 5th grade in Poland, and I kid you not I thought I was some sort of a genius because the American kids in my class seemed really dumb to me. They were learning things in 6th grade I learned in 4th grade! It was dumbfounding to get higher scores on Spelling tests than the kids who actually spoke English way better than me.

  2. Jaidedfocus Says:

    With the standards we have for todays grading system i doubt many could pass this test if it were indeed real. Shows just how far behind we really are when it comes to education.

  3. Dorothy Says:

    Let’s just say I would not pass those tests. It’s such a same because all I remember ever taking was multiple choice type tests. We certainly need to re-visit our educational system – or lack thereof.

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