Sunday, March 13, 2011

So your great grandfather never made it past eigth grade

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

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)
[Do we even know what this is??]

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.' (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, 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?!

Did someone say something about class size?


  1. You have found the evidence of American exceptionalism, you may hear a knock at the door.
    I wonder what the teacher pay was?

  2. I'm guessing a sleeping loft in the attic.. her job included fixing a pot of something for the kids lunch. So Room & Board and I found this out of Arkanasa, The money would have bee less in Kansas if room and board were included

    The school board set a teacher pay schedule for the first time in 1904 in an attempt to settle ongoing salary disputes and prevent future problems. In accordance with the new schedule, a first-year teacher holding a first-grade license made $45 a month. A teacher with the same license with eleven years of consecutive teaching in Little Rock schools would earn $70 a month

  3. Long before the days of test making and test correction corporations.

  4. And today we have so many (52.7%) who are not smarter than a 5th grader.

  5. And how do you know that information USMC?

  6. Just a quick look at what has transipered since that Historic event on 1/20/2009. Also the very clear voice of the voters last November. I would be more lekely to trust the vote of those 5th graders than the 18-29 YO's who blindly accepted the "Hope & Change" buzz words of 2008.

  7. Guess you missed the video of Senator Wise and Senator Dockery. A shining example of the direction Florida is heading. The buzz word in the Florida legislature is "I don't know."

  8. Anonymous said...
    Long before the days of test making and test correction corporations

    And back when teachers really were underpaid.

  9. And back when there was no huge federal Dept. of Education or state level DOEs.

  10. well, let's see, I got 2 of the math q's... (1 didn't have enough info, but I could guess), the last one in history #7 was Gordie, and a diphthong is one of those scanty swimsuits??

    Seriously, to madpole about the 'pay of the teacher', as Grumpy pointed out, it wasn't very good... and I believe it was in that era the notion of 'tenure' emerged, because it was needed to protect teachers from being summarily terminated for no reason, particularly in the old west when people wanted their children to work in the fields during the summer instead of attending school. As we can see, the current educators have both suspenders and a belt with tenure and union affiliation. Sorry digressing perhaps, but I believe everyone is advocating reform except the unions and teachers.

  11. Sorry Lefty, Who is the "everyone" advocating reform? Seems like it's the federal and State governments making reform as more testing, fattening the pockets of test companies, increasing gov't meddling, removing local control, and not being able to say what the costs are. This is status quo, business as usual. Tell me what is "reform" about it?

  12. Anonymous, couldn't agree more about the current Federal and State Schemes.. That's not reform, I can think of several appropriate names for that crap,but I won' use them here.

    Lefty, like myself realizes that we're spending education dollars in ways that accomplish very little, much of that is a result of NCLB.

    We're trying to teach academics to kids who would be happier fixing your roof than sitting in a classroom.

    There are dozens of ways to reform education, reduce costs and better prepare young people for real life that aren't being looked at.

  13. Good evening Grumpy,

    I wonder how many of today's teachers could take this exam and pass.

  14. Good evening Puma, I know I didn't do to well. I noticed all the arithmetic questions were things the students would have understood. Bank loans, taxes, transporting crops, the cost of a winters supply of coal and the all important value of wheat

    Not sure how the lumber measurement went metric

  15. I wonder how many Florida legislators would pass the test? We already know they cannot add.

    "There are dozens of ways to reform education, reduce costs and better prepare young people for real life that aren't being looked at." = a comment worth repeating

  16. Grumpy, My name is Denise. My friends call me D.

    You can bet that not many of today's children could pass this test. They are not taught to think, only to memorize and to chant "Obummer, Obummer."

  17. The Florida House is expected to pass HB7019 tomorrow and get it to Governor Scott's desk by Friday according to reports. Gov Scott says he will sign it. Neither the legislature nor the Governor know how they will fund this mandate.

  18. The bill passed the House this afternoon. It goes to the Governor for signature.


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