Monday, April 25, 2011


My friend Stasia at LibraryThing (Interview with a Bookie), sent this along over the weekend and it peaked my curiosity. I did some further research at OpenCdA and The Salina Journal to make sure it wasn't a joke. It wasn't, and it isn't. When Martha read the questions, her mouth dropped open and I saw a fly fly right in her gaping maw. I never saw it come back out.

If you don't have time to read all of the questions then scan a few. But don't allow your maw to gape, unless you need the protein.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS – 1895

Lookit: Girls got to go to school too!

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)
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? (It depends on how many politicians and preachers have their mouths open at the same time.)
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.
7. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
8. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
9. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete. (Actually, it took an additional 45 minutes because there were 5 questions on Physiology.)

I think I did pretty well on the test: I answered one (in red) in geography, which usually isn't my strongest subject.

And now I know why Dorothy packed up Toto and split for Oz.


hope said...

The first question made me feel so stupid I feared reading the rest. And then the next section was math, so I just sighed and went to the red...I agree. You get an A+ for that answer. :)

Hope you're feeling better this week!

Jerry@GentlySaid said...

I did see this once before a few months ago and figured it couldn't be true. Now that I find that it is...I..uh, well we didn't deal in bushels since I didn't grow up around farms. So that explains one I can't answer. I'm working on the rest...i.e. coming up with excuses why I can't answer them.

Ponita said...

Welllll... There are a couple of questions in the Orthography that I could answer most parts, and a bit of the Geography, but holy cow!!! Education has taken a major turn down the toilet. No one these days is taught that stuff in school! I'm gonna have to look up "fane" and "fain"... ain't never hearda those two.

I wonder how Manitoba and Hecla (a town/island here in Manitoba) made it onto an 8th grade exam in Kansas...

Quite the eye opener!!

Djanstewart said...

Oh Lordy. I bet I could answer maybe a tenth of these questions, and half of those would probably be wrong. I am at a disadvantage because I didn't get to go to their school and have their teachers!

Wandering Coyote said...

OMG, I wouldn't have been able to answer those questions in grade 12...or after university, for that matter. Wow.

TechnoBabe . said...

Sad to know that eighth graders today would not pass the exam. Probably not even twelfth graders either.
Your answer in red must be correct today, but not back then. Or maybe it was true, just not recognized as such.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Good grief! Am I ever glad I went to 8th grade in the early 1980s, and in TN instead of KS. Eye opener indeed!

Kim Ayres said...

Good to see all the arithmetic questions are good, solid business ones, ideal to know if you're managing the family farm. Although it should probably have included a section on how to best blackmail your bank manager should he threaten to foreclose on your mortgage...

Mapstew said...

My.Head.Hurts! :¬/

Pat said...

Concentrating very hard on keeping my mouth clamped.
Although I dropped Geography in the second year it was the only one I felt minutely confident in. And yes I realise I have ended a sentence with a preposition. Beyond caring:)

Robert tje Skeptic said...

I can assure you this, I would earn one big red "F".

LJ said...

Wow! Hand this to a 12th grade student now and they'd cry that it was too hard and the schools would lower the standards because more kids passing = more school funding. I doubt most of them could get number 3 in Arthimatic right and that's an easy one

Tiffin said...

I have a pain in my fane (I might burst a vein) and I think it's in vain, although I fain would try, to deny the dumbing down of America and Canada. The sight of this test, with the questions you cite on your website razes all hope, even though I raise my eyes to the heavens (no rays of sun appear). I can't even feign an effort at some of the answers.