Wednesday, May 16, 2012


So, when I think of my precious grand-daughters preparing for their final exams ... I'm reminded of another post I made some 3 years ago. 
It 'twas tuggin' at me .... asking for an encore, so here goes!

"Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education?"

Here is the 8th-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , KS , USA . (Source: Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , KS.)

(To be honest, if I were presented with these questions my poor dried bones would STILL be sitting at a desk, trying to graduate!)


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 ft deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at
50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the nece ss ary 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 per meter?
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: 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 &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.

Gives the saying 'she/he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it? 

Kind of humbling, isn't it?


  1. I guess that's why they say it's the good old days- great post.

  2. Fascinating post! I read every question and was appalled at how few I could answer.

  3. Thanks for posting this Maverly! This should be a wake up call for America since we lag behind all other countries except a few..Turkey comes to mind..
    This is so shamefu:o(

  4. I have had this article on 8th grade exams show up in my e-mail many times over the years. Regardless, of how many times I read it I still can not remember the answers the next time I see it.

    Does that mean I am poorly educated or just getting to old to remember the things I use to know.

  5. Oh dear....oh dear. I now realize how poorly educated we all are now. G u l p!!!

  6. Yikes... When my girls ask me to help them with homework...I often end up scratching my head in total confusion.

  7. There are some college graduates who wouldn't pass the test.

  8. Hahahahahahahahahahaha Even if they expanded the time limits and I had the internet at hand I probably could not pass this stuff.
    Amazing how we have lowered the requirements in ecucation. This is probably one of the lated comments ever. HA, I hate to say tahnks for the smiles....

    MOST college students today could not pass those tests.


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