1895 School Exam

| 4/10/2012 9:27:00 AM

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) 

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 “lie,” “play,” 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.

[back to the exam sections]

Arithmetic (Time, 1 hour 15 minutes) 

Hannah Blazewick
10/21/2012 7:33:47 PM

OH SNAP!!! Education does seem to have gone down hill since the 18 hundreds. In fact, it has gotten to the bottom of the hill and is currently digging a hole in order to go down further.