View Full Version : 8th grade education, 1895

06-13-2012, 04:53 PM
I was sent this by a friend. I have no way of knowing its veracity, but on the surface it feels legit. If so, O dear:


Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . 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.

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, 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, 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, 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.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?!
No wonder they dropped out after 8th grade. They already knew more than they needed to know!


06-13-2012, 05:01 PM
Yeah..... I doubt it's veracity. I saw that in about 1983 (Long before most of us knew what a computer was, other than a thing that took up a whole building in Washington to count our tax dollars).
I will agree that the average kid graduating from High school today is about as well informed about most things, as a box of door knobs.

Phillip Allen
06-13-2012, 05:10 PM
I once heard a series of letters home from the Civil war era... we can't touch that now... we have dumbed down 'fer sur'

06-13-2012, 05:51 PM
One of the questions uses a metre (metric unit). ?

06-13-2012, 06:01 PM
"One of the questions uses a metre (metric unit). ?"
Even the correct spelling!

06-13-2012, 06:20 PM
As a retired educator I'm not so pessimistic about what young people know or don't know. Most of them know quite a bit about things that interest them.

Have you ever watched a young person type on a keyboard? Most of my students can type on a keyboard as fast as you or I can talk.

Most can text very fast, and use a shorthand I will never comprehend.

In this era of specialization, many younger people are very well versed. The only area that I wish they had more knowledge is BASIC math..... but that's not really their fault. The last time they will get any basic math is around 6th or 7th grade. Then they take algebra and geometry through high school. Same with grammar. High school is mostly lit and not grammar. But they develop enough grammar skills to get by for most jobs.


Phillip Allen
06-13-2012, 08:55 PM
Waddie, no one thinks it's their fault... it's ours

David W Pratt
06-14-2012, 09:50 AM
I'm with Mrleft8, I read a book about the whaling era and it had a lot of excerpts from logs of whaleships, most were subliterate, spelling was freestyle, to say the least.

Phillip Allen
06-14-2012, 10:38 AM
I'm with Mrleft8, I read a book about the whaling era and it had a lot of excerpts from logs of whaleships, most were subliterate, spelling was freestyle, to say the least.

rank has it's privilages

06-14-2012, 10:42 AM
I started working as a carpenter at 16 and now im 59.

Except for ciphering no body ever asked me any of those things since..

I have MISSISSIPPPI written on my arm just waiting for someone to ask how to spell it..

Phillip Allen
06-14-2012, 10:46 AM
I started working as a carpenter at 16 and now im 59.

Except for ciphering no body ever asked me any of those things since..

I have MISSISSIPPPI written on my arm just waiting for someone to ask how to spell it..

your 'P' seems to be running down your arm

David W Pratt
06-14-2012, 01:12 PM
My son has a tattoo, a series of small lines, an inch and centimeter scale, on his arm.

Tom Hunter
06-14-2012, 02:41 PM
Not real according to snopes.

Some of the questions (tasks?) are quite wonderful, like writing the bank documents, or naming the battles of the "rebellion" what ever the results might say about the test takers, the questions speak volumes about their author.

Dan McCosh
06-14-2012, 03:04 PM
Dunno about the authenticity, but since I attended the graduation of our eighth-grader two days ago from our local public school, I don't see the test as all that far out of line. How about describing the differences between the wave and particle theories of light? Some pre-calculus problems? Comparing the grammatical structure of two languages? Some of the stuff in a modern eighth-grade classroom.