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Climate Change TimelineHistory of Economic Downturns | 8th Grade Final Exam

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS – 1895


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

This is the ORIGINAL copy of the test, posted to the Internet circa 1995 by Kaz, after carefully verifying its factuality with Salina authorities. Thanks to all the many people who mirror it, helping spread the word.

This is a test of the knowledge you were expected to have as a Kansas farm kid, in the 8th grade who went to school a fraction of the amount that modern children do.


(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.


(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 m?
  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?


(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.


(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 Fermandez, 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.

Imagine a college student who went to public school trying to pass this test, even if the few outdated questions were modernized.

What is wrong with the public education system, that results have fallen so far? Even adjusting for inflation, modern schools receive far more money per student. In fact, the amount of money spent per student has increased by an inflation-adjusted $1000 per decade for fifty years, yet results have steadily fallen. Perhaps money isn’t the problem

Climate Change TimelineHistory of Economic Downturns | 8th Grade Final Exam



  1. I hit about 50% on this test coming in cold. Students *NEVER* come in cold though, they’ve got a year, or more, of training backing them up, of doing the task every day. I’ve never been amazed by how well/poorly students test, but by how quickly they manage to forget all the stuff we expect them to memorize. Note to that we’re looking at 5 hours, or the rough equivalent of the SAT, but we’ve only got 45 questions, even if they are short answer we’re looking at 6 minutes per question, WAY more leisurely than any test we give today.

    And while this test has a lot of practical math and advanced English and Language, it’s weak on History (US only – and half of what we have today, no world or Ancient there) it has nothing for earth science, life science, chemistry or physics, no foreign languages there, or anything dealing with art or music. I don’t see any Physical Education there though I freely admit your average pre-tv teenager could run circles around any but our best athletes of today.

    We do have issues in schools, from my time teaching I think the biggest issue is parents, but we also spend a huge chunk of our budget helping those who the system that wrote this test would have tossed out on the street. The district I taught in was required to provide educational materials in 28 languages. I doubt Kanas in the 1890s offered anything but English. The district I taught in was required to provide classes for the handicapped, including tutors and aides. My great uncle, born in 1929 was mentally retarded (as it was termed at the time) and never allowed to enter the public school system. My father taught him to count change in the late 1960s because the clerk kept short-changing him when he went in for a pop. The district I taught in was required to provide testing, counseling, and individualized programs for ‘troubled’ students. We need to make sure that there’s no bias on the basis of sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. All of this takes MONEY, and none of it adds 1 iota to the testing scores of students.

    And, on the opposite side of this, we keep tearing down our schools, our system, our teachers. Our children see this, they internalize it, and they act on it. As little as 40 years ago there was real problems with ‘cross town rivalries’ where students were so PRO-SCHOOL that they’d attack other schools. Now the apathy is so thick you choke on it, that leads to lower scores too. All the feel-good effort we put into children needs to be put into the institution, bring back the pride and the numbers will come with it. The more we express negatively on the problems, and not positively on the potential solutions, the worse the problem is going to get.

    Comment by B0unty | October 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. We are 50 United States of America. Consequently, we have 50 standards for graduating students into high schools and 50 differing standards for qualifying these students college entry. Is it any wonder we have a nation of mostly ignorant people?

    Teachers are accused of failing the students, unions are blamed for protecting teachers right to teach, parents are blamed for not being actively involved, President Obama is blamed because … well he’s always at fault. We could conclude there is truly enough blame to serve. There must be a national standard that all U.S. schools must target. There must be a federal plan focusing on one education standard that all states must take to the educational bank. It must address teacher training and student achievement metrics. We must adopt the best education practices of foreign nations and and integrate them into our system.

    But WE won’t. Nobody does it better than we do: healthcare delivery, tax breaks for corporations, monopolistic mergers, nobody does it better!

    Comment by rumple4skin | July 16, 2011 | Reply

  3. thats not true…we dont hear about most shit cause of the school and i in hell aint lazy…

    Comment by emilie gartman | July 15, 2011 | Reply

  4. We have bookmarked this for you so that others can see everything you have to state.

    Comment by poulan riding mower | June 2, 2011 | Reply

  5. Has anyone read Fahrenheit 451?
    Working as an educator in the public school system, I can tell you that most kids don’t give a crap. They’re lazy, disinterested and they want everything ‘to be a game’. “Make it fun.”

    Meanwhile, the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have forced schools to compete with each other on paper. The actual information in a kid’s head only needs to be demonstrated in standardized testing. We teach to the test, they study for the test, they pass the test, and then they forget it promptly after.

    To students, reading a book is passé,
    and school is only for socializing.

    In schools, no student is held back on account of ‘hurting feelings’,
    teachers are demonized as being ‘inefficient’,
    and students aren’t held accountable.

    At home, the breakdown of the nuclear family unit… (not necessarily a traditional “mom and dad” sort of thing, but that…)
    children don’t all have a stable, loving, constantly present family to watch them,
    to make them do their work,
    to teach them work ethics
    to teach them good mores,
    to teach the value of money
    and the value of a good education,
    so it’s little wonder that our educational system, our economic system and our general cultural values have depreciated so much.

    I have SEEN kids sit idly in class, after having been given an assignment.
    I ask them, “Why aren’t you working on your worksheet?”
    and the response is a careless shrug, and they look me in the eye and say “Because I don’t care. I’m failing anyways, why should I bother?”

    Then we have the general public pointing fingers at teachers and saying “You aren’t doing a good job.”
    Parents respond to our attempts at discipline and education with “I’m busy, my kid can’t stay after school for detention today.” “My kid is better than an 86. You gave her that grade because you don’t like her.”
    Administration in many schools say “We need to get better grades so we don’t lose funding. Figure out a way to fix it.”
    Government then says “Public schools are failing, so let’s take away funding and give it to a new, different school.” … except who will be in said schools? The same people listed above.

    Think about it. Why does education today fall flat? Once you’ve been in the school on the other side of the desk, it’s a no-brainer.

    Comment by andrea s | June 2, 2011 | Reply

  6. the public schools on our district can really give some good education to young kids. they have high standards `;-

    Comment by Capricorn Woman | December 3, 2010 | Reply

  7. actually public schools can also give great education to your kids, it is also as good as most private schools ‘

    Comment by Beard Trimmer · | November 4, 2010 | Reply

    • “Can” give you a great education?

      So how many people must be forced to rely on luck, to pray they’re part of that ten percent who get at least a tolerable education?

      With a free market, you can CHOOSE a good one, not have to cross your fingers and hope.

      Comment by kazvorpal | November 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. It certainly gives the saying ‘he only had an 8th grade education’ a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?!

    This also shows us how poor our modern education system has become!

    There is possibly not one student anywhere who can complete all these answers today!

    Comment by Alexander Winslow | October 6, 2010 | Reply

  9. Really? I Couldn’t Even Answer The First Question;

    Comment by Danielle | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  10. But NOW you know, that private schooling in the 19th century made farm kids smarter than public schools in the 20th century do to suburban kids.

    Down with public schools. Good find Kaz.

    Comment by Zach Bibeault | September 6, 2009 | Reply

    • I “found” this in the early nineties…pretty much every posting of it on the ‘net is a copy of my original page, 14 years ago. When I got it, there was no commentary, nor even most of the original detail. I found it as a simple text file on a BBS, and did the research to add the details before and after the actual exam, myself.

      Comment by kazvorpal | September 6, 2009 | Reply

  11. How many of these questions are on the No Child Left Behind test?

    How would it benefit public schools to teach those that aren’t, when failure to produce adequate numbers of passing students will close them down?

    Comment by cmb | August 6, 2009 | Reply

    • Exactly. Centrally controlled education, from either party, is guaranteed to produce worse results.

      Had Bush been less Liberal, he would not have pushed a socialist “solution” like “no child left behind”, and stuck to his campaign promise to promote school choice, instead.

      Comment by kazvorpal | August 6, 2009 | Reply

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