1912 Eighth-Grade Exam Stumps 21st-Century Test-Takers
Are you smarter than an eighth grader? How about an eighth grader who graduated in 1912? A copy of an eighth-grade exam from that year shows test-taking wasn’t so easy for those early-20th-century students.
One hundred years ago, schools in the rural county were scattered far and wide, according to the museum’s website. Students got together once or twice a year to take the “Common Exam.” This test was a big deal, and students were told to prepare properly. Scholarships were provided to some who passed the exam and went on to high school. (It was rare for farm children to be able to continue their education otherwise.)
David Strange, an executive director at the museum, told The Huffington Post the exam was actually given to the museum last year. (We actually wrote about the test in January in celebration of public education’s 100-year anniversary.) However, the 101-year-old test started gaining popularity again when it was picked up by ABC News this weekend and went viral.
Read More at 1912 Eighth-Grade Exam Stumps 21st-Century Test-Takers.
Bullitt County History – 1912 School Exam
This copy of the Eighth Grade Exam for Bullitt County Schools in 1912 was donated to the museum. We thought you might like to see what the test looked like a hundred years ago. Obviously it tested some things that were more relevant at that time than now, and it should not be used to compare student knowledge then and now.
Note that there are several typesetting mistakes on the test including a mistake in the spelling list. The word “eneeavor” should be “endeavor.” This version of the exam was probably a master version given out to the schools (note that the spelling words wouldn’t be written on a test.) The museum has been told that the exam was handed out in a scroll form (that is why the paper is long.) The typos would have been corrected simply by contacting the teachers and telling them to mark their copies accordingly, much like would be done today. And there might not be quite as many typos as you think; “Serbia” for example was indeed spelled “Servia” back then.
Bullitt County Schools were mostly one-room schools in those days, scattered around the rural county. Students came together at the county courthouse once or twice a year to take this “Common Exam.” It was apparently a big deal. The local newspaper urged students to do well, even urging seventh graders that it was not too early to start preparing. Some scholarships were provided to those who passed to go on to high school, which was also a big deal back then. In those days, high school was sometimes another county away and a rare thing for many farm children to be able to otherwise attend.
And remember to smile a little while reading this exam. It has been great fun, as well as a challenge, to think about the questions, and to come up with answers for 1912 and for today. For example, it has been interesting to see disagreements on even the basics, such as what is a “cord,” much less the actual answer to the question, or the much more controversial questions about government and about “who discovered…”. Smile. We are all learning from this test.
Our staff has put together possible answers on another page for your amusement.
- 1912 eighth grade exam: Can you answer these QUESTIONS from 100 years ago? [VIDEO] (christiantoday.com)
- 1912 EIGHT GRADE EXAM FOR BULLITT COUNTY SCHOOLS, KENTUCKY, MAKES 21st CENTURY EDUCATION LOOK LIKE A NURSERY SCHOOL (katenews2day.com)
- 1912 eighth grade exam: Could you make it to high school in 1912? (csmonitor.com)