Josh-Daniel S. Davis (joshdavis) wrote,
Josh-Daniel S. Davis

If I only had an eigth grade education

Net rumor (false) about what an Eith Grade test was in 1895. Snopes has info on this, but it's still cool to look at the sorts of things we might be expected to know in school, but as non-farmers, we don't maintain currently.
Eighth-Grade Test - 1895
Remember when our grandparents stated that they only had an eight-grade education? Well, check this out. This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, KS, 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.


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, lay 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 50 cents per 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 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 yard?
  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 around 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: Tri-- graph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, lingual's?
  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 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.
Snopes explaines in better detail why the above is an inaccurate test, and goes on to say:
Consider the following, a certification examination for prospective teachers, prepared by the Examiners of Teachers for the Public Schools in Zanesville, Ohio, in the late 1870s:
    English Grammar

    1. Analyze the following and parse words in italics I cannot tell if to depart in silence, Or bitterly to speak in your reproof, Best fitteth my degree or your condition.

    2. Write the following in prose, and parse the verb awaits: The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,     And all that beauthy, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike th' inevitable hour:     The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

    3. Give a brief example of a compound and a complex sentence. Give the rule for the use of the subjunctive mood.

    4. Define and give the etymology of verb, prounoun, conjunction and adverb. Give example of a defective, an auxillary, an impersonal and a redudant verb. How many kinds of prounous are there? Give examples of each.

    5. Prior has the following sentence. State it if be good grammar. If not, why? It it be, parse the word than: Thou art a girl as much brighter than her, As he is a poet sublimer than me.

    6. Give rule for forming plural of nouns ending in "y," with examples. Give plurals of staff, radius, miasma, Miss White, rendezvous, talisman, loaf, grief, seraph, Mussulman, forceps, spoonful, who, beef, s, x, 6, and madam. Also give the singulars of kine, ashes, banditi [sic], swine, animalcula.

    7. Compare chief, much, former, far, forth, next, round, up, ill, full.

    8. Give the feminines of abbot, earl, duke, lad, marquis, hero, tiger, nephew, testator, bachelor, wizard, and ox.

    9. Write the past tense and past participle of these verbs:
    Lay, 	Seek, 	Sit, 	Get, 	Dare,
    Thrive, 	Lie, 	Set, 	Light, 	Loose,
    Fly, 	Flee, 	Chide, 	Overflow, 	Catch,
    Lose, 	Swim, 	Climb, 	Drink, 	Stay,
    Leap, 	Quit, 	Swell, 	Burst, 	Eat.

    10. Define metonymy, catachresis, and hyberbole; and state the difference between a metaphor and a simile.

    11. Punctuate the following lines: But when I ask the trembling question     Will you be mine my dearest Miss Then may there be no hesitation     But say distinctly Yes Sir yes.

    12. Parse the three "thats" in the following sentence:
        He that fears that dog thinks that he is mad.
    Also parse the word "but" in each of the following:
        There was no one but saw him;
        We ran, but he stopped;
        All ran but Peter;
        If you did but know it.

    13. Correct the following:
    (a) Although I persuaded the old man, he refused to yield, and I expect he divided his estate between his 3 daughters. His example, though he meant well, is calculated to have a bad effect.
    (b) As I laid down I seen the smoke rising over the way.
    (c) Whom do you say that I am? or who do you take me to be?
    (d) John and James were both there, though neither were invited.
    (e) As water is froze easier than alcohol, so riches are easier acquired than a good name.
    (f) Between you and I, there is some mystery about that fire last night. Did you hear where it was at? I am glad none of my friends were in the house. I should be sorry if either James or William were inculpated in setting it on fire.


    1. Give etymology of orthography. What are mutes, labials, and liquids, and why so called?

    2. Give meaning of the prefixes, ante, anti, circum, quad, proto, oct, trans, sym, and con.

    3. Form derivatives of prefer, begin, stop, run, defy, abridge, tie, and die, with the suffix ing or ed.

    4. Write a word containing a diphthong, one containing a digraph, and one containing a trigraph.

    5. Define accent, and mark the accent on the words: inverse, diverse, adverse, reverse, obverse, calcine, piquant, orthoepy, abdomen, acclimated, area, salutatory, accessary, gondola, illustrate, prolix, portent, inquiry, contemplated, expert, extant.

    6. Spell the words   (given orally)


    Put all your work on the paper and make it explain itself.

    1. Define integer, fraction, interest, discount, power, and root.

    2. What effect has multiplying both terms of a fraction by the same number, and why; and why in dividing one fraction by another do you invert the divisor and multiply the terms together?

    3. If A's age were increased by its 3/7 its 4/5 and 19, the sum would equal 2-1/2 times his age; required his age.

    4. Multiply 7/8 by .000018 and divide the product by 27 millionths.

    5. 32 men agree to construct 28 miles 4 furlongs and 32 rods of road; after completing one-half of it, one-fourth of the number of men left the company, what distance did each man construct before and after one-fourth of the men left?

    6. A man drives 97 pegs on a straight line and spaces them 3 ft. 8 in. apart. What is the distance from the first peg to the last peg, lowest terms?

    7. A man receives $65 interest for the use of $600 for 3 years, 7 months, and 15 days. What is rate per cent.?

    8. What is due on the following note?
    $1200               Zanesville, O., December 10, 1871.
            One year after date I promise to pay to the order of Richard Roe twelve hundred dollars, value received.
                                JOHN DOE

    9. Give the rule for obtaining the difference of time, having the difference of longitude, and vice versa, and give the reasons for the rule.

    10. A square lot containing 54,756 square feet is surrounded by a close board fence 12 feet high. What would the boards cost at $13 per thousand?


    1. Where does the earth have the greatest diameter?

    2. Why do we reckon 180 degrees of longitude and only 90 of latitude?

    3. What is meant by the equinoxes?

    4. Locate the Crimea, Bombay, Bay of Fundy, and the Capital of Mississippi.

    5. Into what three functions is the government of the United States divided? -- define each function.

    6. Describe and locate the Indus and Niger rivers.

    7. Through what waters would a ship pass in going from Duluth to Odessa?

    8. Bound France and give five of its chief cities.

    9. Name the New England states and locate their capitals.

    10. Define equator, zone, latitude, and longitude.

    11. Into what bodies of water do the following rivers flow: The Danube, Rhone, Volga, Tiber, Rio Grande, Jordan, and Mahoning.

Plenty of critics maintain that most of today's teaching candidates couldn't pass this test. Well, even if that were true, it wouldn't make today's candidates all that different than their 19th century counterparts. As Joseph Crosby, the man who created the English Grammar and Orthography sections of this exam, wrote to a friend in 1876:

I gave them a pretty severe test in Grammar, and some of them did make terrible work of it. One young lady said the singular of "Swine" was "pigs", another "a hog". One being asked to give me the past tense of "I lie down" said "I lied", which she certainly did. Out of some 30 or 35 words I gave them to spell, not over 10 were spelled correctly by any one, several missed on all but 5 or 6 -- Yet they blushed & tried so hard to do well -- and many were graduates of the High School -- that I was sorry for them. I had no idea that graduates could be so ignorant.

And after all, do we really care these days whether our educators know the "feminines of the words hero, bachelor, and ox"?

I agree with snopes, but it would be nice to have a purpose in daily living to maintain such information in our heads, if for no other reason to be able to confidently mock others.
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