Comments marked with my traditional ** to delineate when I am typing.
Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents, and such 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, KS. USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, KS 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 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, 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 ushels of wheat will it hold?
** Undefined constant - please indicate the dimensions of a bushel of wheat.
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts./bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
**Undefined constant - define the weight of an individual bushel of wheat.
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 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 are, the distance around which is 640 rods?
** typographical error noted. What is the measurement "are?"
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.
** error, Columbus discovered the New World, but never even SAW America.
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.
** define which Rebellion, please.
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?
**error, unspecified limitations. Known as the "Argentina" game in psychology. Answer could be any number of differing points, from gravity to the existence of the Earth itself to sunlight distribution, etc.
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.
** error, unspecified delineation - what TYPE of trade?
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
**error, European national situation is in flux and country names change hourly
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. This gives the saying of an early 20th century person that "(s)he only
had an 8th grade education" a whole new meaning!
Several of the questions above rely on unspecified information that modern urban dwellers would not have available to them. Also, in the case of packaged agricultural products, some variation in weight and volume will always occur due to manual creation of said packaging (bushels, bales, etc.).
Also, in the portion on climatology, the question regarding what climate depends upon seems to be a trick question,as noted, and could be used as a trap by a teacher to prove his or her superiority over the students. This is known in Transactional Analysis as the "Argentina Game." In this game, a teacher asks: "What's the most important thing about Argentina?" and uses the undefined question to allow students to voice their presuppositions as to what the teacher MIGHT mean and allows the teacher to play "Gotcha!" by answering with something that completely is outside the realm of knowledge of the students, thus enforcing his or her superiority in the class room.
Don't even get me started on skewed testing for different demographic segments! THAT'S a whole other rant!
Lee Darrow, C.Ht.