Take the test — and see if you do as well as a Grade 8 student from 1895

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We truly do “stand on the shoulders of giants,” nanos gigantum humeris insidentes.
Ah, the good old days ...

Remember when there were no computers, cellphones, cars, airplanes, electric appliances and so on?

And then remember when our parents or grandparents said, “I don’t know about this modern stuff.  You got to remember I only have Grade 8.”  

Well, I found a Grade 8 final exam online from Kansas (think rural, one-room schoolhouse), and tried to do it.

They were no slackers by any means, and to get to even Grade 8 was something extraordinary. 

I know, it is difficult to compare, but the people from yesteryear were true giants.

Not now

Compare that to today, with the most popular television shows “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Duck Dynasty” and the likes of Miley Cyrus’ tongue and twerking (whatever that is suppose to be), and Justin Bieber showing our ’tweens their values and right from wrong.

I know you may think I am a old fuddy-duddy, but, hey I get it. I truly do, I understand sensationalism, and there’s no such thing as bad PR. 

I am just curious as to how these so-called “entertainers” would do in the following.

Here is the exam taken from http://thinklab.typepad.com/think_lab/2006/03/8th_grade_exami.html.

Difficult test

This one was a final and they were given five hours to complete it. Remember: this is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas.

It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey

Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

I had trouble with most answers, forget trying to complete in five hours, and I consider myself pretty average.  

Give it a try, even one question from each section.


8th Grade Final Exam

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, lay and run.

5. Define case, illustrate each case.

6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

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 3,942 pounds, what is it worth at 50 cents/bushel, deducting 1,050 pounds 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 6,720 lbs. coal at $6 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for eight months and 18 days at seven per cent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 feet long at $20 per metre?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 per cent.

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: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

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, sub vocals, 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, 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.

7. 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.

Jerry Belbin writes from Clarenville.

Organizations: Smokey Valley Genealogical Society, Library in Salina, Salina Journal

Geographic location: Salina, Kansas, United States, North America Monrovia Denver Manitoba Hecla Yukon St. Helena Europe Atlantic Coast Pacific Clarenville

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