OK. Please take out two number 2 pencils and two sheets of ruled notepaper. Number from one to ten. This is a test. You have 30 minutes to complete it.
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. A wagon box is 2 feet deep, 10 feet long and 3 feet 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 cents per bushel, 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 seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?
8. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e’. Name two exceptions under each rule.
9. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
10. If Mr. Brown starts his truck from point A and drives for six miles and takes a left turn and drives six more miles, and Mr. Jones starts his car at point A and drives in the opposite direction for six miles and takes a right turn and drives another six miles, how many shingles will it take to roof farmer Black’s barn?
Times up. How many did you get right? And don’t ask me for the answers. I could probably figure out the grammar questions and I could look up the ones about history and with a calculator I could probably figure out the math, except for that last one that I just made up because word problems never made any sense to me anyway.
But it would take a while and I have other stuff to do, this being deadline week, you see. Those questions and quite a few others that I don’t have space to reprint came from a final exam, given in 1895 in Salina, Kan. Students had an hour to complete the grammar portion, which included six short-answer questions and a 150-word essay.
They had an hour and 15 minutes to complete the math portion, which included harder questions than the ones I selected. Figuring out farm problems was a big part of the test, and there were several questions that dealt with interest charges.
The U.S. history section was 45 minutes, but, come to think of it, there was not nearly as much to study back then as there is today. We’d probably have to add at least another 10 minutes to the quiz after more than a hundred years of historical events.
The instructor allowed one hour for the geography section. I suspect that much of the geography those kids learned is no longer relevant, what with countries all over the world shifting borders and changing names.
A final section, labeled orthography, also had an hour for completion. The best I can figure, orthography is the study of language. I found questions about diphthongs, cognates and linguals, topics I vaguely remember from a course in the origin and development of the English language I took, because I had to, in college.
I e-mailed a copy of this test to my wife, who is considerably smarter than I am, thank goodness, and she had to admit that she would have failed it too. So you’d think that students in Salina, Kansas, back in 1895 must have had to study pretty hard to graduate from high school if they had to pass this test to get a diploma. You’d probably be right, but this test was not to graduate from high school. Kids had to pass this one just to get out of EIGHTH GRADE.
Perhaps we’ve come a long way in the last one hundred years, but I’m not certain our education system has kept pace.
By the way, my good friend Quenna Terry, who does media relations work for NRCS up in Lubbock, sent me a copy of the test. She didn’t mention how well she did on it and I’m too much of a gentleman to ask. But I thank her for sharing.