Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

I am still trying to locate a picture of Meadow Gulch SchoolBarefoot World

Probably Not…Take a Look: This is the 1895 eighth-grade final exam from Salina, Kansas.

The following document was transcribed from the original document in the collection of the Smoky Valley Genealogy Society, Salina, Kansas. This test is the original eighth-grade final exam for 1895 from Salina, Kansas. An interesting note is the fact that the county students taking this test were allowed to take the test in the 7th grade, and if they did not pass the test at that time, they were allowed to re-take it again in the 8th grade. Also of note, the school year was but 7 months, beginning October 1 and ending April 1. allowing 5 months for planting, farming and harvest.  

April 13, 1895
J.W. Armstrong, County Superintendent.

Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts

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 do, lie, lay 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, 1.25 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 cts. per bu, 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 inch?
    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, and 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, super.
    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 N.A.
    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 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.

Health (Time, 45 minutes)

  1. Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
    2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
    3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
    4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
    5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.

Imagine a college student who went to public school at the end of the 20th Century trying to pass this test, even if the few outdated questions were modernized. Imagine their professors even being able to pass the 8th Grade. Can Americans, student and professor alike, get back up to the 8th Grade level of 1895?

ED-U-CA’-TION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

— Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) —

A Completed 1895 8th Grade Final Exam

7 thoughts on “Could You Have Passed the 8th Grade in 1895?

  1. Indoctrination was much more difficult back then. Luckily for us though, those that made it through, also went on to enslave the rest of us with such inventions as Federal Reserve, World Wars, all spellings of the alphabetical agencies of the government corporation not to mention the alleged suppression of vast quantities of information which could have benefited mankind in all sorts of ways.
    USA! USA! USA!

  2. What a nice surprise when reading From the Trenches this afternoon! The picture in this post is of a painting of Norman Rockwell from the Oak Mountain School in the early 40’s. Oak Mountain Community is in the Carrollton, Georgia area.

    My 3 siblings and I were blessed to have been educated by Mrs. Mac, our teacher in the painting in this wonderful one-room school in the early 50’s.

    We received a wonderful education, and were all double-promoted during our years at Oak Mountain. When our parents moved us to Florida in the mid-50’s, all 4 of us were 3 years ahead of the other students in our classes, not because we were exceptionally bright, but because we had received a wonderful “education” .

    What wonderful memories we have of Oak Mountain School and our wonderful Mrs. Mac. Her husband drove the school bus. My sisters and I kept in touch with Mrs. Mac by snail-mail until her death in the early 60’s, and always visited her during our trips to visit our relatives in Georgia.

    As we made our

    1. It’s one thing to see a great Rockwell painting, another to see one for real, and
      a real treat to hear this from you.

      Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story of this painting.


      1. Well, thank you, Flek, for such a nice comment.

        Some of my older cousins were in the painting, and at family reunions they would always share the experience of having Norman Rockwell at the little school, out in the middle of the “sticks”.

        From what I can recall (I am 70 years young now), Mrs. Mac had won “Teacher of the Year” and Mr. Rockwell read about her and visited our community.
        Her salary at the time was $400 per year.

        Mrs. Mac was an incredible teacher, kind and loving, and strict at the same time. I can still remember so many things that she taught us, but especially how much she really loved us.

        Our father was a “share cropper”, with 6 children, so we were quite poor. But thank God our parents were hard working, Christian people who taught us good manners, to work hard, to appreciate what we had, and to love others.

        I will always remember one of the special visits I had with Mrs. Mac. I was about 20, and went to her little humble home there on Oak Mountain. When I was leaving, she showed me school pictures of my siblings and I which were taped on the wall by her light switch, along with other of her students from the past.

        She told me that every night when she went to turn out the lights she would pray for each of us. She called us “The Smith Children”.

        My sisters and I continued to visit her when she went into a nursing home, and even then, when her mind was not at it’s best, she would remember who we were.

        Oh, how I wish I had kept the many, many letters she sent to me through the years after we left Georgia and her care. She continued to love and encourage us until she went on to be with The Lord.

        I also seem to remember reading somewhere that the paintings of Oak Mountain School were among some of Mr. Rockwell’s favorites.

        1. Thanks again for this story.
          I attempted to post a longer reply, but it never showed up…I’ll try a gain in a moment.

          Thank you very much, once again, for this wonderful history and insight.

          You mentioned how much Mrs. Mac loved you all so much, and that’s the real gift that’s missing in education today. Sadly, that gift is missing in much of the world.

          Mrs. Mac sounded like a bright shining light in the ever deepening darkness pervading this world. A darkness, that will one day be lifted forever from this world in an instant of divine thought.

          You are very lucky and blessed, and what’s more, you know it and appreciated it.

          So, young lady driving an old car, when you pull up to that final rest-area I’m sure Mrs. Mac will be among the many souls to greet you.

          You have much to look forward to.

          Thank you once again, for such southern hospitality. A hospitality I know and love so much, as a southerner. 🙂



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