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Eighth grade exam from 1895

  1. Nov 18, 2005 #1
    Would you pass? I don't know if I would or not....
    Snopes has an interesting commentary on the exam: http://www.snopes.com/language/document/1895exam.htm
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2005 #2

    Kids would scream nowadays if handed that.
  4. Nov 18, 2005 #3

    uh, it is a fake test.
  5. Nov 18, 2005 #4


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    Did you miss the big, red letters that said "False" at the top of the page?
  6. Nov 18, 2005 #5

    Tom Mattson

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    I remember my 8th grade exams being harder that that. We were doing algebra and basic trigonometry, not this wagon boxes and bushels of wheat malarkey. Based on the mathematics section, it seems that the quality of education has gone up, at least in that area.
  7. Nov 18, 2005 #6

    ahh.. a product of new math... yes, New Math might have been nice for mathematicians, but all those children that came away hating math and thinking it was too hard ended up polluting the kids in the 80's and 90's.

    (note, I have no idea what age you are, you might be younger but have gone to a school that changed over more slowly, heck, New Math impacted heavily on my elementary school life in the 80's even though it was not pushed any longer)
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2005
  8. Nov 18, 2005 #7
    The 'false' refers to the idea that tests were harder, not that the exam was not "real." I am surprised some of you misunderstood that. The test was (or some close version of it) was administered as a final exam for eighth grade.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2005
  9. Nov 18, 2005 #8
    THe math section would be a cakewalk.

    I'd have difficulty in many of the other areas.

    One idea that this may illustrate, is that education has shifted its priorities.
  10. Nov 18, 2005 #9


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    The claim is false, not the test. If you read the article, it explains why the inability for someone today to pass that test is not a demonstration of a shocking decline in educational standards. It's a demonstration that a person needs different information to get by today than they did in the 1890's.

    I, however, could easily pass this test. Who doesn't know who Whitney Houston or Sean Penn is? Everyone knows the Gunter's Scale (a precursor to slide rules) was invented in 1620, that Humphry Davy invented the first light bulb in 1800, and that kindergarten was invented in 1849 Freidreich Froebel. And who could forget that the tin can for food storage was invented by Peter Durand in 1810 - what a crisis that was!! At least until Ezra Warner invented the can opener in 1858.
  11. Nov 18, 2005 #10


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    Gee, Bob :biggrin:

    You look pretty good for being 123, assuming you were 13 in 1895. :rofl:
  12. Nov 18, 2005 #11
    or maybe it just means it was posted in a MATH AND PHYSICS FORUM.
  13. Nov 18, 2005 #12

    Tom Mattson

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    I was in 8th grade in 1986-87. I heard the expression "new math" many times, but I never knew what it was. Now that I look back on my education I see that there is nothing at all "new" about the math I studied.

    Well sure, today you would (so would I). But if I were neck deep in studying this stuff I don't think the exam would be that big of a deal.

    Looking at the other areas...

    Grammar: This is pretty standard. It seems in line with what I was tested on in 8th grade. But in 8th grade I was also tested on Spanish grammar.

    Arithmetic: We were taught how to solve both practical problems and "pure math" problems, and not just with arithmetic. We could do it with unknowns (algebra), geometry, and trig.

    US History: Ignoring the fact that, by default, modern 8th graders are tested on much more US history than 8th graders from 1895, the level of the questions here seems to be about the same. Plus, in my state (Illinois) we were required to pass the dreaded "Constitution Test" on top of the history exam. The Constitution Test covered the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Illinois State Constitution.

    Orthography: We called this "Phonics" and "Spelling". Admittedly, some of those items I have never learned (eg: diacritical marking).

    Geography: Much more memorization there than I recall being held accountable for. But then again, we were also tested on other sciences (biology, chemistry, physical science). In 8th grade I had dissected a fetal pig, and I was responsible for knowing its anatomy.
  14. Nov 18, 2005 #13
    Wow! I don't know if I am more impressed with your education, or your memory!

    I do remember learning diacritical marks. I remember we had some Indiana history before the eighth grade, but no US history until the 10th grade.
    I recall lots of state capitols, learning the geography of other countries, of course the math included the topics you mention, we had health class, religious education (catholic school), PE, music, art..... As far as science I recall some of the "put a seed in a cup and watch it sprout" but certainly no dissections. We dissected pithed frogs in 9th grade, (and the teacher was notoriously progressive for these sorts of lab experiemnts - she is probably the number one teaching influence on my career decision), sharks in advanced bio (grade 11 or 12), but no pigs until college.

    I certainly didn't need to know things like how to distinguish a receipt from an invoice.

    But I don't recall the details that we were required to learn for many of those 1-8 grades.

    In any event, there seems to be no doubt that education changes. I am watching my girls go through the public education system, and have a few concerns but in general feel that they are learning a good amount.
    And I still think I might fail the above exam. It's an interesting thing to think about.

    (edit) Hey! You're younger than me. OK, I retract the comment about your great memory, then. :tongue: You whippersnapper.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2005
  15. Nov 18, 2005 #14
    I know it was a fake test, but still...

    I'd do okay, except for geography(memory = blank alert)
  16. Nov 18, 2005 #15
    What the hell? It's not a fake test. Do you people even read the links?
  17. Nov 18, 2005 #16


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  18. Nov 18, 2005 #17
    New Math was the name of a movement in response to sputnik. The traditional rote learning of math where kids learned to calculate but not understand or learn the ling was thrown out in favor of a curriculum created by Mathematicians.

    5th graders learned modular arithmetic and set theory for instance. Parents of children had no idea how to help their kids, and it caused a lot of problems for the kids who are not mathematical by nature.

    the movement died out as a "the best thing going" in the mid seventies in favor of a back to basics movement, but some schools kept going with the new math or modified it a bit. Up until about 1990, US schools could fall into 2 categories. Back to Basics and New Math. in the late 70's and all through the 80's the NCTM did research and curriculum development and finally came out with a huge set of documents outlining Standards based learning which is the current model. Educators, College professors, parents and corporations were consulted when developing standards based math.

    Basically, Standards based math teaches the concepts of higher level mathematics but uses age appropriate materials. modular thinking is introduced to 1st graders (telling time on a wall clock), 5th and 6th graders are introduced to algebraic thought with the little empty box and using algebra tiles (those are really cool). Basically, standards based math is all about getting the kids to think the right way about math and understand foundational concepts so that when they eventually learn the formal subjects of algebra and geometry, they will have an easier time understanding.

    So, New Math is not new, but it was "NEW" in the sense that it was a different way of teaching kids than the traditional methods.
  19. Nov 18, 2005 #18
    Thank you Fred. I have googled around, and found conflicting reports. What seems most evident, is that the exam was discovered/housed in the genealogical society in Salina.

    I don't know the basis for your strong statement "the exam was most likely NOT for eighth graders" ... as your link says merely "unproven" and I found no stronger statement in my google.

    So it's unproven? I couldn't find anything to say otherwise, on the other hand, unproven does not mean "NOT for eighth grade kids." It means... unproven.

    On a more humorous note, when I visitied the genealogical website to see what they (the source) had to say, I found this attached to the end of the document:

    Forget being a student in 1895. Could you be a *teacher* in 1895? I couldn't.
    http://skyways.lib.ks.us/kansas/genweb/ottawa/exam.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  20. Nov 18, 2005 #19


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    Numbers 2 and 3 in the math section. Can anyone here actually answer them without looking up the answer in a reference somewhere? Numbers 2 and 3 demonstrate the requirement of knowing how much a bushel of wheat weighs and how many cubic feet is in one bushel. And for that matter what 'tare' is. Something very important at that time. I spent little time on the site but I didn't see how many questions had to be answered correctly in order to pass.
  21. Nov 18, 2005 #20


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    Well, I'm going to go ahead and give this a shot.

    8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895

    Grammar (Time, one hour)

    1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.

    1) First word in sentence. 2) Proper noun. 3) Proper nouns used as adjectives are capitalized (the English language, for instance). 4) The word directly following a colon in a sentence should be capitalized. 5) All words, other than articles and conjunctions, are capitalized in a title. The first and last words are capitalized even if they are articles or conjunctions. 6) I can only think of those five. Either I'm missing something, or they're considering the rules for what constitutes a proper noun to be separate capitalization rules.

    2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.

    Subject, verb, direct object, indirect object, conjunctions, and prepositions. I'm pretty sure that conjunctions are the only part of speech that are unmodified in English.

    3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph

    'Verse' is any form of writing whose primary structure is the metric line, rather than the sentence. A stanza is a number of lines in a poem that are bunched together without a line break. A paragraph is a prose/expositional structure that groups sentences together, without break, according to their relation to the topic sentence.

    4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of"lie,""play," and "run."

    Tense, number, person, and mood. "Lie," "play," and "run" are present-tense, singular or plural first or second person or plural third person, indicative. They might also be in the imperative form, as it is identical for these verbs.

    5. Define case; Illustrate each case.

    Case is the different forms that a noun can take according to its syntactic function in a sentence. The nominative case marks the subject of a sentence (Adam takes the food to Sarah). The accusative case marks the direct object of a sentence (Adam takes the food to Sarah). The dative case marks the indirect object of a sentence and is declined in English by the preposition "to" (Adam takes the food to Sarah). The genitive case indicates possession and is declined in English in several different ways. For example: "The rug is American;" "The food is Sarah's;" "That is the gun of Billy the Kid." The locative case indicates a location to which an action is directed (I am running home) and the vocative case indicates a direct address. Neither is declined in English, but the vocative is marked by making the object of address its own clause ("I am talking to you, Adam;" or "Adam, I am talking to you").

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

    The comma separates dependent clauses, the semi-colon separates independent clauses, the period separates sentences. The colon indicates that the second clause is an elaboration of the first. An exclamation mark indicates emphasis or surprise and a question mark indicates that the sentence is a question.

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

    Some other time. Obviously, I could do this.

    Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

    1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

    Identity: A=A
    Commutative Property: (A+B)+C = A+(B+C)
    Distributive Property: A(B+C) = AxB + AxC
    Transitive Property: If A=B and B=C, then A=C
    Zero Rules: Ax0=0, A+0=A, A-0=A, A/0=undefined
    One Rule: Any number multiplied or divided by 1 does not change.

    Okay, I'm sure I got those wrong, but I probably would have known them when I was in 8th grade and had actually studied arithmetic at some point in the recent past.

    2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

    I don't know what a bushel is.

    3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

    See above.

    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?

    I don't know what a levy is or what incidentals are.

    5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

    I don't know how many lbs. are in a ton.

    6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

    Assuming simple annual interest, the answer is ($512.60)(0.07)(8 months + 18 days). What this comes out to depends on what months we're talking about.

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

    I don't know the unit conversion between meters and feet off the top of my head.

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

    What the heck is a bank discount?

    9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?

    What the heck is a rod?

    10. Wr! ite a Bank Check, a! Promissory Note, and a Receipt

    I don't understand this one. I have examples of each in my room. Do they want me to copy them down exactly on the test answer sheet?

    U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

    1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided

    Pre-Colonial, Colonial, Revolutionary, Pre-Civil War, Post-Civil War

    2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

    He couldn't get funding from his native Italy or from Portugal, which had financed his previous trips, so he petitioned and received funding from Ferdinand and Isabel of Spain. He took three ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña. He thought he was going to the East Indies, but instead landed in the lesser Antilles of the Caribbean, which came to be called the "West Indies," its people, the Taino, "Indians."

    3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

    King George started levying taxes that the colonists didn't like. He took away some of their power, installing British governors with full power and stripping local councils of their's. The Tea tax and ensuing Boston Tea Party, along with the Boston Massacre, were the last straws, after which the Massachusetts state militia blocked the march of the British recoats at Lexington. No one knows who fired the first shot, but once fired, the war began. The result from freedom from the British Crown for the colonies.

    4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

    Started out as the original 13 colonies, all of which were on the eastern seaboard. The old northwest was explored by frontiersman, settled, and eventually incorporated. The Louisiana Territory was purchased from France by Thomas Jefferson. Florida, Texas, and California were won from Mexico. The Oregon Territory was acquired from the British (they kept what became British Columbia). Alaska, Hawai'i, Guam, and Puerto Rico were not US possessions at the time this test was given.

    5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

    A lot of corn has been grown there.

    6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

    Valley Forge in PA was Washington's first victory and secured large parts of the western areas for the colonials. Trenton was the site of the Christmas river crossing, allowing the colonials to advance into New Jersey. Middletown was a crucial fort in central Jersey that became Washington's headquarters after the Redcoats were driven northward to their strongholds in New York.

    7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

    Morse invented the telegraph, Whitney the cotton gin, Bell the telephone, Lincoln was the 16th president, Penn the founder of Pennsylvania. I don't know about Fulton and Howe.

    8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

    1607: The founding of Jamestown.
    1620: The founding of the Plymouth colony.
    1800: End of the French-Indian War
    1849: California Gold Rush
    1865: End of the Civil War

    Orthography (Time, one hour)

    1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication

    Alphabet is the name of the collection of letters used to make words. It based on using symbols for individual phonemes, as opposed to a syllabary, which uses symbols for individual syllables, or pictographs, which can indicate whole words.

    Phonetics identifies the vocal elements of speech.

    Orthography means "proper writing" in Greek.

    Eytomology is the study of the origins of words.

    Syllabication is the practice of identifying syllables in words and marking off their cadence (stress and unstress). It is used today mostly in poetic analysis.

    2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

    Consonants and vowels? I'm not really sure how advanced phonetics was then or how in depth they got. I could classify dental, labial, and palatal sounds, but I doubt that kids were studying that.

    3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals

    A trigraph is three letters that make only one consonantal sound. I can't think of any in English. A dipthong is two vowels that combine to make one sound (ai or oi, for instance), which is actually two sounds made in quick succession. I'm not sure what the rest are.

    4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)

    A caret u is this: û. I'm not even sure what it is used for, though, much less what a substitute would look like.

    5. Give two rules for spelli! ng words with final ! 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.

    The silent e rule is when a vowel is modified to say its name when an e is at the end of a word and one consonant separates the e from the modified vowel. For instance, "make," "name," "take," etc. Two exceptions are the words "there" and "artifice."

    The same rule applies when an e directly follows a vowel at the end of a word. The e is silent and the vowel is long as in "toe" or "blue." Two exceptions are the words dialogue and catalogue.

    6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

    The silent e rule is already well-explained above.

    A silent h after a w is used in the word "where" to distinguish it from the word "were." It is also used in the words "who" and "what" and "why" and "when." The function is derived from the Gaelic practice of lenition and is used to indicate a dative, genitive, or accusative pronoun.

    7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.

    bi - two: bisexual
    dis - negation: disappeared
    mis - wrongness: misappropriate
    pre - before: preposition
    semi - part of, not fully: semisweet
    non - negation: nonsense
    inter - between: interregnum
    mono - single: monosyllabic
    sup - from below: support

    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.

    I don't know how to make stress (not ´) and unstress diacritical marks on the computer, but I can do this.

    9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

    The officer had to cite the illegally parked car. The car was, however, not parked on an illegal site. It turns out the officer's sight was failing him. Though the spot was in front of a fane, the owners were fain to allow public parking on that street. When the officer discovered this fact, he decided to feign ignorance to hide his deteriorating vision.

    Later that evening the officer discovered a vane of gold running in his friend's backyard. The officer was vain, however, and did not want to share. Perhaps it was karma that causes a gold splinter to lodge itself in his vein.

    The following day the congregation prepared for the raze. It was necessary that they could raise a new church, better designed to withstand the earthquakes that hounded their state. The rays of the officer's flashlight shown lonely that night as he searched through the rubble for his wallet, which he had lost earlier while writing the ticket.

    10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

    Again, cannot do this on a computer.

    Geography (Time, one hour)

    1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

    Climate is the typical weather for a given place over a given span of time. It depends mainly on lattitude, atmospheric currents, and proximity to water.

    2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

    Kansas is not near any large bodies of water.

    3 Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

    Well, they're great for shipping and recreation.

    4. Describe the mountains of North America

    The mountains in the west: the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, Sheep Holes, etc, are jagged and tall. The mountains of the east: Appalachians, Smokies, are short and eroded. Most don't have timberlines, whereas the western mountains generally do.

    5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

    They already are named, and I've only been to Monrovia. It is your average suburban/commercial city.

    6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S

    New York, Baltimore, New Orleans, Los Angeles/Long Beach, San Francisco, Seattle. Give me a map and I'll locate them.

    7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.

    Okay, this one is going to be rough. Great Britain: London; Ireland: Dublin; Germany: Berlin; Switzerland: Bern; Austria: Vienna; Poland: Warsaw; Hungary: Budapest; France: Paris; Spain: Madrid; Portugal: Lisbon; Italy: Rome; Greece: Athens; Sweden: Stockholm; Norway: Oslo; Finland: Helsinki; Belgium: Brussels; Netherlands: Amsterdam; Denmark: Copenhagen; Czech Republic: Prague; Luxembourg: Luxembourg City.

    Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bulgaria, Estonia, Serbia-Montenegro, Croatia, Lithuania, and all the others: I have no clue.

    8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

    I'm not sure. I know that on most continents, the water on the west moves toward the equator and the water on the east side moves away from the equator. That is why the water on the east coast is warmer than the water on the west coast. Does that have anything to do with why the land/air on the east coast is colder?

    9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

    It evaporates, comes together into clouds, moves over land, the condenses into rain.

    10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

    It rotates on a north-south axis once every day and revolves about the sun once every 365 1/4 days. It is tilted 23.5 degrees.
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