Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day #341 A Humbling Experience

This is a very long post -- much longer than usual, but I think it's worth reading. This is the exam given to all 8th-grade students in Washington State in 1910. I cut and pasted it from this website:
I had to think twice about some of the answers to the very first question, to say nothing of a LOT of the rest of them. See how you do . . .

The following 8th-grade exit exam materials for Washington state in 1910 were supplied to the Education Reporter by Vincent J. Doran of Anchorage, AK.
Herewith are sent lists of questions to be used by pupils of the Eighth Grade, who are candidates for certificates of graduation. The aim of these questions is to give the pupils of the Eighth Grade a test in both the technical and general knowledge which they should possess in order to be ready for the higher work. The following facts have been kept in view in the preparation of the questions:
  1. The advancement of the pupils.
  2. The general knowledge that they should possess.
  3. The supplementary work that is now expected of teachers in our schools.
  4. The requirements of the preparatory courses in higher schools.
If a pupil succeeds in passing successfully this test, he will receive a certificate of graduation, and will be entitled to enter upon a high school course.
Permit the suggestion that no teacher have charge of his pupils while they are writing upon the questions, and to this end the Superintendent or some one appointed by him should have charge of the following examination.
The papers are to be graded by the county Board of Education. The standard is uniform for the state, and is as follows:
Minimum in grammar and arithmetic
The rules and program for teachers’ examinations are to be followed so far as they are applicable.
Very truly,
Superintendent of Public Instruction

AUGUST 18 AND 19, 1910
Write a brief review of one reading circle book.

  1. Write the plural of the following words: daisy, leaf, tooth, penny, die, me, tongs, valley, Miss Jones, Mr. Brown.
  2. Name the four kinds of sentences as to use, and the three kinds of sentences as to structure.
  3. Give sentences containing noun, adjective, and adverbial clauses.
  4. Name four kinds of pronouns and give examples of each kind.
  5. In what must a pronoun agree with its antecedent? Illustrate.
  6. He felt the damp of the river fog, that rises after the sun goes down. Diagram or analyze.
  7. Compare: little, much, near, old, up, honest, elegant, famous, neat, merciful.
  8. Write a sentence containing a verb in the active voice, change it to the passive, and explain how this is done.
  9. Name three different ways in which a noun may be used in the nominative case, and three ways in which a noun may be used in the objective case.
  10. Write a letter to a friend describing briefly the country surrounding your home.

ORTHOGRAPHY (spelling)
1. soldier
16. sustenance
2. grandeur
17. obedience
3. numeral
18. cancellation
4. cuticle
19. declension
5. buffalo
20. military
6. decrepit
21. irregular
7. meridian
22. accurate
8. phrasing
23. pernicious
9. prairie
24. laudanum
10. reservoir
25. beneficent
11. Manhattan
26. senator
12. biography
27. registrar
13. emblematic
28. January
14. genuine
29. soliloquy
15. Siberia
30. Tuesday
  1. Write sentences showing the correct use of the following words: beat, beet; great, grate; lain, lane; seam, seem; the, thee.
  2. Mark diacritically the vowels in the following: banana, admire, golden, ticket, lunch.
  3. Form words using the following affixes and tell of the meaning of the words thus formed: ary, less, er, ous, dom.
  4. Define the following words and give examples: primitive word, compound word, vowel, accent, prefix.
  1. What were the three objective points of the Federal forces in the Civil War?
  2. Name the last three presidents in order, and name an important event in each administration.
  3. How did the Colonies of the North and South differ as to social life, education, industries, and customs, prior to the Revolution?
  4. (a) State briefly the causes of the War of 1812. (b) Name two engagements. (c) Two prominent American Commanders.
  5. Give a short sketch of the life and work of one of the following great men: Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, William McKinley.
  6. (a) When and where was slavery introduced into America? (b) How was it abolished?
  7. What has made the names of each of the following historical? Alexander Hamilton, U.S. Grant, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Cyrus W. Field, Clara Barton.
  8. (a) State the qualifications of a United States Senator. (b) Name the Senators from the State of Washington.
  9. How do you distinguish between the terms Puritans, Pilgrims, and Separatists?
  10. Give an account of the framing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

  1. What causes the difference in climate between Eastern and Western Washington?
  2. Name ten wild animals of Africa.
  3. Tell some reasons why the people of Washington are interested in the Orient.
  4. Name the five chief nations of Europe, and give their capitals.
  5. Name five important cities and five products of Canada.
  6. Sketch a map of South America, locating three rivers, five capital cities.
  7. What and where are the following? Liverpool, Panama, Suez, Ural, Liberia, Quebec, Pikes Peak, Yosemite, Danube, San Diego.
  8. Name five of the principal crops of the United States, and tell the section where each is raised.
  9. Describe the Nile and the country through which it flows.
  10. Name the largest country of Asia, three important cities, and three important products.

  1. Divide 304487 by 931.
  2. Find the sum of 5/9, 5/6, 3/4, 11/36.
  3. A gardener sells his celery for 8 1/3 cents per bunch. How many bunches should he give for $5.00?
  4. How many board feet in a piece of timber 14 inches square, and 12 feet long?
  5. What number diminished by 33 1/3 percent of itself, equals 38?
  6. By selling my horse for $156 I gained 8 1/3 %. How much did the horse cost me?
  7. A note for $200 was given January 1, 1909, rate of interest to be 8%. How much was due April 1, 1910?
  8. Find the square root of 95.6484.
  9. What is the cost of enough lumber to floor a room 24 feet long and 16 feet wide, at $32 per thousand feet?
  10. How much will it cost me to pave a street 42 feet wide, and 625 feet long, at $11.65 per square yard?

1-5. One selection in prose and one in poetry from eighth grade reading book. (50 credits) (not included)
  1. Name five American poets, and give a quotation from each.
  2. Who wrote the following?
    The Village Blacksmith.
    Rip Van Winkle.
    The First Snowfall.
    The Great Stone Face.
    The Raven.
  3. Quote two stanzas of "America."
  4. Quote a stanza from one of the poems mentioned in question 7.
  5. Give in your own words the meaning of the following:
    "To him who, in the love of Nature, holds
    Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
    A various language: for his gayer hours
    She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
    Into his darker musings with a mild
    And healing sympathy, that steals away
    Their sharpness ere he is aware."

  1. Describe the structure of the skin.
  2. Locate the thoracic duct.
  3. Trace a drop of blood from the time it enters the left ventricle, until it returns to its starting point, and name the different valves and principal arteries and veins through which it passes.
  4. Describe the composition of the blood.
  5. Why are the arteries more protected than the veins?
  6. Name five special senses.
  7. Explain why health depends largely upon habit.
  8. Explain the effect of alcohol and tobacco upon the action of the heart.
  9. Give some good reasons why boys should not smoke cigarettes.
  10. What do you understand about the germ theory of disease?

(Note—Examiners will grade penmanship of pupils from their answers to the following questions)
  1. Write your name in full.
  2. What is your age?
  3. Write your post office address, number of your school district, and name of your teacher.
  4. To what grade of the school do you belong? Have you completed the grade?
  5. Is this your first eighth grade examination?
  6. If you succeed in obtaining an eighth grade diploma, do you expect to attend school next term? Where?

I have to admit it – I’m truly humbled by the breadth and depth of this exam.

BEEattitude for Day # 341:
       Blessed are those who expand their minds, for they shall find new worlds in there.

There’s still time
to get your dog in my next book!
From now through the end of September, anyone who donates $10 to WAG, also known as the Walton Animal Guild, will be automatically entered in a drawing.
If you win, your dog will be in my next Biscuit McKee mystery!
The donate button is right on their home page
Every $10 donation is automatically entered in the drawing
See Blog #324 for the details.


The Cat Bastet said...

Oh, how times have changed! I'll bet most college students could not pass that exam!

Fran Stewart said...

Scary, isn't it?

My father was so proud to have been the first person in his family ever to graduate from high school, and I have to admit I've spent a lot of useless time congratulating myself on my college and post-grad degrees, but it looks like my dad was way ahead of me on some things.

And I never really appreciated him for it. Isn't that a shame?