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?
Following is the 8th grade exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas.
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

    Grammer (Time 1 Hour)

  1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
  2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have modifications.
  3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.
  4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principle parts of “lie”, “play”, and “run”.
  5. Define case: Illustrate each case.
  6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctation.
  7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
    1. Arithmetic (Time: 1.25 hours)

    2. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
    3. A wagon box is 2 feet deep, 10 feet long and 3 feet wide.
      How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
    4. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at
      50 cents a bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?
    5. 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?
    6. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6 per ton?
    7. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at
      7 percent.
    8. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 feet
      long at $20 per meter?
    9. Find the bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at
      10 percent.
    10. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the
      distance of which is 640 rods?
    11. 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
  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?
  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 Fernandes, 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
  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.

Did you notice that the exam took six hours to complete?
Gives the saying “he only had an 8th grade education” a whole
new meaning, doesn’t it?

Since the dumbing down of our educational system it’s doubtful that
even a present day high school graduate wouldn’t pass this test.


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