Farm Collector Blogs > Field Notes

1895 School Exam

by Jeannine Snyder

Tags: education, 19th century,

The exam that follows was taken from an original 1895 document on file at the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society & Library in Salina, Kan., and reprinted by the Salina Journal. 

Illustration of the Whittier public school.    
From the Dec. 5, 1895, San Francisco Call (Library of Congress/Chronicling America)
Illustration of the Whittier public school, drawn by a Call artist from a photograph. 

Although the original reads, “Examination Graduation Questions of Saline County, Kansas,” there has been some debate about the exam’s authenticity and whom it was intended for — either eighth graders or potential teachers. The recent discovery of handwritten notes for the grammar section of the exam, found by a Saline County school superintendent’s grandchildren, support the legitimacy of the test.

The Salina Journal obtained a scan of the original and has a PDF version available on its website: Examination Graduation Questions.

The exam has six sections: grammar, arithmetic, U.S. history, orthography, geography and physiology. The last of which isn't consistently included on copies of the test floating around the Internet. Give it a try — then check your answers!

Grammar (Time, 1 hour) 

Arithmetic (Time, 1 hour 15 minutes) 

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes) 

Orthography (Time, 1 hour) 

Geography (Time, 1 hour) 

Physiology (Time, 45 minutes) 

Done? Check yourself at one of these two websites I found that claim to have the answers: and

[back to the exam sections]