Passing the 8th Grade


Final Exam Grade 8 from 1895

At college age, you can tell who is best at taking tests and going to school, but you can't tell who the best people are.
That worries me.

- Barnaby C Keeney

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 from Salina, Kansas.  It was taken from the original document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society and library in Salina, Kansas and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Examination

Grammar (Time, I 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
  4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb?  Give Principal Parts of
  5. Define Case.  Illustrate each Case.
  6. What is Punctuation?  Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
  7. through 10.  Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
  2. A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 ft long, and 3 ft wide.  How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
  3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 pounds, what is it worth at 50¢ per bu, deducting 1,050 pounds for tare?
  4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000.  What is the necessary levy to carry on a school 7 months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
  5. Find cost of 6,720 pounds of coal at $6.00 per ton.
  6. Find the interest on $512.60 for 8 months 18 days at 7%.
  7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 feet long at 20¢ per inch?
  8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10%.
  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.

US History (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Give the epochs into which US 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:
  8. Name events connected with the following dates:

Orthography (Time, one hour)

  1. What is meant by the following:
    bulletphonetic orthography
  2. What are elementary sounds?  How classified?
  3. What are the following, and give examples of each:
    bulletcognate letters
  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:
  8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound:
  9. Use the following correctly in sentences:
    bulletcite, site, sight
    bulletfane, fain, feign
    bulletvane, vain, vein
    bulletraze, 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:
    bulletSt Helena
    bulletJuan Fernandez
  6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the US.
  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 inclination of the earth.

Source: Anderson Valley Advertiser 3 May 2000

Perhaps this is why so few needed to go to high school, much less university, in 1895?

Next is a test of history and current affairs taken from The Economist.  (The answers are at the bottom of the page.)

Infrequently Asked Questions

Test your knowledge of history and world affairs with this quiz drawn from articles in The Economist.  Each question has one right answer.  These can be found at the very bottom of this page.

  1. People in rich countries now work around 1,400 - 1,800 hours a year.  At the turn of the century, who worked for 2,700 hours a year?

(a) Rose Harrimon, a prize-winning telegraph operator in Iowa, who died at the age of 31 and donated her body to science.
(b) The average British person.
(c) The fictitious protagonist of F Scott Fitzgerald's "The Crack Up."
(d) The average British pit-pony.

  1. America's love affair with the gun is the eternal stuff of fiction.  But it has not always been the stuff of fact.  Which of the following statements is true?

(a) At the start of the war of 1812, the state of Massachusetts had more spears than firearms in its arsenal.
(b) Fewer than 15,000 guns per year were produced in America in the second half of the 19th century.
(c) In 1952, the Tennessee National Guard destroyed all its firearms on the orders of Governor Frank "Talk-'em-down" Willis, who was strangled the following year.
(d) There were more axe murders than fatal shootings in America in the first half of the 19th century.

  1. More information technology means less privacy.  Employees of big companies are particularly at risk from snooping bosses because:

(a) Visits to adult websites leave a trail of so-called "slug-slime" that can be detected on corporate firewalls.
(b) 39% of large companies routinely monitor all emails between employees of the opposite sex, according to a survey in 1997 by the American Management Association.
(c) Two-thirds of large companies admit to electronic surveillance of their workers, according to the same survey.
(d) Under the terms of a 1997 EU directive, any firm sending more than 350,000 emails per year must keep copies of all of them for 18 months.

  1. Some argue that free trade threatens national cultures.  In Canada, for example, 96% of films are foreign.  On the other hand:

(a) In every European country in 1997, the most popular TV programme was a local production.
(b) No foreign song has ever stayed more than three weeks on the Japanese charts, except Frank Sinatra's rendition of "My Way".
(c) Britain's Spice Girls were successful in Norway only when the sound tracks were removed from their videos.
(d) Over 95% of Germans born before 1945 insist they have never heard of any British writer except Shakespeare and 20% of them think Shakespeare was German.

  1. The sun is 400 times larger than the moon and nearly as many times as far away from the earth, so the moon sometimes gets the chance to blot out the sun perfectly.  People have always overreacted to such total eclipses, hence the fact that:

(a) Bucephalus, Alexander the Great's horse, was said to have kicked to death anyone who mentioned eclipses in his master's presence.
(b) The Gregorian calendar was designed so that total eclipses never fell on a Sunday.
(c) The Julian calendar was designed so that total eclipses never fell on a Thursday.
(d) The Chinese included in their pantheon a god, Hsi-Hso, whose job was to prevent eclipses.

  1. Two B-meson particle accelerators that started work in May 1999 are expected to help to answer which one of the following questions?

(a) Why is there something rather than nothing?
(b) Why is everything something?
(c) Why are there are more things than there used to be?
(d) Why is nothing anything much?

  1. Russia has enjoyed an almost unbroken history of monetary mismanagement since the 17th century.  For example:

(a) Peter the Great thought he could hammer coins worth 312 roubles out of five roubles' worth of copper.
(b) The rouble has been convertible at a stable exchange rate in only 120 of the 230 years since paper money was introduced.
(c) After a currency reform in 1924, one new rouble was worth 50 billion 1921 roubles.
(d) After a currency reform in 1924, one 1921 rouble was worth 50 billion new ones.

  1. The gluttonous Romans were, according to one historian of the spice trade, "the most extravagant users of aromatics in history.  Which of the following is true?

(a) Legionaries headed off to battle wearing perfume.
(b) Tacitus attested that several senators' wives murdered members of their own families in order to get hold of cinnamon.
(c) Saffron was regarded as the Viagra of the day.
(d) Pepper was judged too exquisite to be disposed of in the vomitorium.

  1. Jack Welch, GE's boss since 1981, has some claim to being the world's most successful manager of the past quarter-century.  He earned the nickname "Neutron Jack" because he:

(a) Planned to introduce a nuclear-powered refrigerator.
(b) Has been observed to glow eerily in corporate strategy meetings.
(c) Laid off 100,000 workers when most observers thought the company was doing well.
(d) Bombards managers in GE'S "bubble chamber" planning unit with up to l5 memos per day.

  1. America's economy seems to stand on top of the world, with average annual GDP growth of 3.1% from 1992 to 1998, compared with 0.8% in Japan and 1.7% in Germany.  But these popularly touted numbers are misleading, because:

(a) Germany's growth figures omit all military-related spending.
(b) America's productivity has grown slightly less rapidly than Germany's, while Japan's has grown twice as fast.
(c) The figures ignore cyclical effects: America expanded throughout the period, but Germany and Japan suffered recessions.
(d) Japan's growth figures are based on the 10-month Shinto calendar.

Source: The Economist 18 December 1999











Answers: 1B, 2A, 3C, 4A, 5D, 6A, 7C, 8A, 9C, 10C

Also see:

bulletBrain Games (in the Animation section) - requires a fast connection and Flash (it also contains the questions from The Economist above).
bulletAnswer Me! (elsewhere in this section) - 4-question Mensa quiz (also contained in Brain Games, above).
bulletIQ Test (elsewhere in this section) - for an example of the cultural assumptions involved in assessing someone else.
bulletCan This Be True? (elsewhere in this section) - short visual test of an area problem (also contained in Brain Games, above).
bulletAre You a Professional? (elsewhere in this section) - test of creative thinking.
bullet100 Facts (in the section on Oddities) - I'll bet you don't know most of them...
bulletThanks, Mom, for the Brains (in the section on Men) - articles which discuss the genetic basis for IQ

For more articles, tests, film studies and visual amusements click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Intellectual and Entertaining section.

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