Guest Post: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth Grader?

Sent to us by our reader and frequent commentator Skip (aka Tiretramp):

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 , KS , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

ATT1 (2)

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, 65 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 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050 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 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 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, and 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour) (Do we even know what this is???)

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, and syllabication.
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, sub vocal, diphthong, cognate letters, and lingual.
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’ (HUH?)
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-, and 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.

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? This also shows you how poor our education system has become… and, NO! I don’t have the answers.

~ Skip

About Hardnox

Constitutional Conservative that Lefties love to hate.
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8 Responses to Guest Post: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth Grader?

  1. tiretramp says:

    I have coped this and tried it on several of our local teens and 40-50 is all they can do. Now my DD which is home schooled and her group of class mates got as high as 90% correct. No wonder the “G” is against Home Schooling and becoming more aggressive towards us weekly.


  2. usnveteran says:

    Answers For A Completed 8th Grade Final Exam – Salina, Kansas – 1895:

  3. Kathy says:

    There is absolutely no way today’s 8th graders could pass that test and I doubt college grads could either. Our kids have been so dumbed down and are learning nothing but fluff.

    Most of them couldn’t tell you what an epoch is, let alone break it down.

  4. captbogus2 says:

    “Reading and writing and arithmetic,

    Think that had anything to do with the ability to learn in 19th Century 8th Grade??

  5. tiretramp says:

    Once in a while some of talk shows will have a on the street reporters. Most of the questions they ask are simple and mostly about America. The failure rate is so high it is frighting. Many of the visitors from foreign countries know more about the USA than the average person on the street. SAD.

  6. Clyde says:

    It is obvious Marie Harf, nor Obama himself could pass this. Good one, Skip. I got a 65.

  7. vonMesser says:

    My father dropped pout of 6thgrade to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania (not all my family was German royalty) when his father was killed in a dynamite explosion. When he dropped out of school he had memorized the multiplication tables to 99×99. He went into the US Navy in the 1930’s and was, during the War offered promotion to Warrant Gunner. He turned it down because he was ashamed of his lack of schooling.

    He could do ballistic artillery calculus for 5 and 16 inch guns in his head.

    They don’t believe in memorization anymore.

  8. CW says:

    What an excellent find, Skip!

    You’re right – it gives a new meaning to “he only had an 8th grade education.”

    Sad to see how far we’ve sunk.