An 8th Grade Education

To continue on the theme of education, a friend of mine sent me this thought provoking item. Hope you enjoy it (and that you all pass.)

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, 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"lie,""play," and "run."
5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.

7. 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 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 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)

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.
. 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?!


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

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23 Responses to An 8th Grade Education

  1. A Utah Woman Am I says:

    That certainly is insightful Jorge!
    My results?  Well, it looks like I would have failed…very badly mind you!  But you are right, it does say a lot about how the education system has changed.  I feel that we will forever be in a world that accepts mediocrity in every way shape and form.
    Let\’s just hope that the future looks a little brighter! 
    PS-  It does look like my grandparents knew more than me!

  2. dawn says:

    i guess the question is with balance..:-)

  3. Cheryl says:

    My mother went through the 8th grade and she was oh so smart.  She won state spelling bees and so much wanted to go to high school but the depression came an the family lost their farm. At age 14 she had to go to work.  She learned more in those 8 years than we learned after going to college.  They were very serious about education and potential opportunities it would bring them.

  4. Brian says:

    Many of those questions are basic but I very much doubt a high school senior could pass that test today.  I work with a great many college grad professionals I know couldn\’t pass that test but can operate a Tivo.

  5. Linda says:

    I always thought my parents were smart and they both actually graduate high school!  Thanks to Lottiemae for directing me here!  Great space by the way! 

  6. Renee says:

    You lost me on the math section…everything after that was a blur…

  7. Gelert says:

    Hi. Having so many problems connecting, commenting, everything really. Great post, I hear a lot about this – how exams have got \’easier\’ and so on. I doubt a lot of people would pass this today!!

  8. Jaime Campbell says:

    Oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!  It does completely illustrate how poor our education system has become.  When expectations slide to nothing, a person doesn\’t reach high.

  9. the1stephzen says:

    Even through there\’s not a lot of shimmer in my life right now, it is not dismal and dark.  Sometimes realizing someone you thought you could depend onyou can not, is hard.

  10. Charlotte says:

    Yep, that\’s a good one.  I had it on my site about a month ago.  I still have a book with some science papers that my mother wrote in great detail in high school . She graduated in 1923 after skipping the 8th grade by taking the 8th grade exam at the end of her 7th grade year.. She then had a year and a half of college and went out to teach school…  My Dad didn\’t have the opportunity to finish high school.. was needed on the farm.  His Dad & Mom were Danish immigrants .. and let me tell you he was very educated in that he read and was interested in many issues…  Thanks for posting this exam again…. good read.. hugs, lottiemae

  11. Nellie O Apple says:

    Man, todays test are all multiple choice and it\’s a little bit easy!
    The 1895 test would probably be okay if I have all my notes reviewed before the exam. I need a lot concentration and good assurance of myself.
    Thanks for posting J. I would love to take classes again this Fall semester. Ha ha!

  12. Deborah says:

    Not only were our Grandparents better educated, they had better manners.  Ettiquette was taught in the home, and if you didn\’t obey there was always the hickory switch out behind the shed.
    Blessed be,

  13. lima says:

    Hi Jorge.thank you for passing by.Of course i visit your space, next week, and vote with pleasure,because you have a very good work.
    All the best
    Luis Lima

  14. meghna says:

    huh… whats tough about this…??
    the grammar one.. we learned it all in 2nd grade… wouldn\’t hv been asked the last question though..
    for maths… its damn easy… all this covered in 5th nd 6th grades..
    can\’t answer U.S. history… never studied it.. i m a science student and thats an arts subject
    orthography was one of the subjects in my first semester in college.. done it all
    and geography… can\’t answer for the U.S. ones… we learnt only about india\’s.. so can answer only the 1st, 3rd, 9th nd 10th
    take care 

  15. Gelert says:

    hey jorge. sorry you\’ve been having probs. with the music. some people do, some never do, its weird. Maybe I should stop playing it. pain in the rear end if you ask me. Thanks for keeping on trying though. I do love your site, and like to have you visit mine.

  16. Audrey says:

    Ahhh my brain hurts… make it stop make it stop!!!
    I actually can honestly answer about 3/4 of the questions the rest are in there somewhere I just have to think harder. ;o)

  17. Kathryn says:

    Lawd! Gives me a headache just reading the questions *laughign* although I could write the 150 word essay with the grammar mostly correct *smiling*

  18. Moon says:

    Not very *educational* thing, but still, i hope you\’ll like it:
    it\’s title is: "how to fake french"
    here it is:

  19. Aafrica says:

    it reads like a riddle. the math, however, looks a lot like the thing i had in the late 70\’s and early 80\’s back in China. i don\’t know how things are over there anymore.

    time has changed. what\’s considered important also has changed.

    Happy St. Pat\’s!!! yeah, green beer time! 😀

  20. A Utah Woman Am I says:

    Hey there Jorge,
    I hope that you are wearing some green today.  Because if not, here is a virtual pinch heading your way.  Also, I am just dropping by to wish you a great start to your weekend.  May you be able to do something fun and exciting.
    And you never did say how you panned out on this "quiz"….
    So, did you pass?
    Take care,

  21. Patricia says:

    What has happened, Jorge?…where do we point our finger?…what will become of us?…

  22. Sue says:

    You know, I was beginning to think I was exaggerating when I told my kids how much more difficult school was when I was young.  You have confirmed it!  Well done.  I will share this test with them to see how much they know.  Congrats on being chosen "Best of".

  23. Dyna says:

    This does not show that our education is poor, it just shows that we have different curriculums now compared to back then.

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