1895 School Final Exam

I received this from my Michigan friend yesterday morning. I think you will be amazed at the questions, but I find some of the questions still relevant today. How things have changed!


Remember when our grandparents, great-grandparents, and such stated that they only had an 8th grade education?

Well, check this out. This is the eighth-grade final 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, Kansas, 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 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. 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 meter?
  7. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
  8. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
  9. 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, sub vocals, 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 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.

Also notice that the exam took five hours to complete. Gives the saying “she/he only had an 8th-grade education” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it? What happened to us? It is kind of humbling, isn’t it?

13 thoughts on “1895 School Final Exam

  1. And how many would you get right? I already know I would flunk the math and possible geography questions
    Might surprise myself with the history questions and would most likely pass English.

      • It’s all about participation and everybody being a winner, so no one fails. In other words, why bother to try if you’re going to pass anyway? I don’t see good basic grammar being taught any more. Nobody knows how to write a sentence anymore. Kids come out of school with no clue how to balance a chequebook.

        • Thanks very much for telling it like it is, Anneli. Same thing here.

          I’ve tried to clean up my grammar with the spelling app on the Mac, had no idea how badly I was spelling. I’m still learning to correct myself.

          I graduated HS in 1979, we WERE taught how to use a checkbook! I still write checks, but rarely. I like your chequebook spelling better.

          If everyone wins, what the hell is the point? Other than being another student in a production line of politically correct robots?

          • On our sports day one of my grade one kids that I taught told me her blue ribbon didn’t mean anything because everybody got one. She had it pegged exactly right at six years of age.
            And John, I think it’s great that you recognize a weakness in your writing and are making such a good effort to remedy it. Keep up the good work. (Now I sound like a teacher – sorry.)

  2. Education has been politicized like most everything else in our culture and society. The first Teacher’s Union (New York City, 1916) was essentially founded by members of the Communist Party. It was a proletariat revolution, backed by Progressives, and intended to foment class warfare.

    Progressives continue to divide us by class, race, sex, gender, and economic status. It’s the process by which they gain and hold power. What did Lincoln say? “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” America was great when it was “one nation”, but it has since been balkanized and weakened by a Progressive agenda that seeks to overthrow the system, and replace it with nothing less than socialism.

      • John, I appreciate that you allow me to vent which I freely do on my “other” blog. The Progressive movement of the 20’s and 30’s was essentially the American version of European fascism. Author Jonah Goldberg addresses this in his landmark book, “Liberal Fascism”.

        Interestingly, Progressives began calling themselves “liberal” because of the fascist connotation. We’ve come full circle as liberals have once again embraced the term “Progressive” because, as Hillary Clinton so noted, “the word ‘liberal’ has become a pejorative.” And rightly so.

        They don’t offer any solutions — only condemnation.

        “America is a terrible place. It was never great. The Founding documents are racist. The nation was founded by white, wealthy, racist slaveholders.”

        America is engaged in a social and cultural revolution to overthrow the ruling class — presumably white males. Has the Left taken a close look at who runs the Democrat Party? Wealthy, white males.

        And lest we forget — it was the Democrat Party that gave us slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. There would not have been Emancipation and Civil Rights if not for the Republican Party.

        Think of Senator Robert Byrd, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who was Hillary’s mentor and Biden’s hero. All they’ve delivered is a wheelbarrow full of sheep dip.

        I discuss all of this, and more, on the other blog.


        • You do vent a bit here, David, but I’ll allow it. You are never rude, if that were the case, I would delete the comment. Censorship? Maybe, but any blog or website admin has to keep a close eye on activity. Your other blog is too polarising for me, sorry, nothing personal.

    • Good question, I think they wouldn’t do well thanks to the state of the American Public Skrewl System.

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