Tags: 1912 | eighth-grade | exam | adult

1912 Eighth-Grade Exam Might Make Adult Heads Spin Today

Tuesday, 13 Aug 2013 10:17 AM

By Clyde Hughes

Are you smarter than a eighth-grader was a century ago? You could find out by taking a 1912 eighth-grade exam recently donated to a museum in Kentucky.

The 101-year-old test, donated last year and recently posted on the Bullitt County History Museum website, had to be passed by students in order to move on to high school, according to the museum.

The test covered a wide range of subjects, including spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology, civil government and history.

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"For us, this is just fascinating," David Lee Strange, a volunteer at the Bullitt County History Museum, told ABC News. "It puts us in the mindset of 1912. Some people say that the questions are trivial, but the questions relate to what the children at the time would have been familiar with."

Finding the answer to a question like: "Find cost at 12 ½ cents per sq. yd. of kalsomining the walls of a room 20 ft. long, 16 ft. wide and 9 ft. high, deducting 1 door 8 ft. by 4 ft. 6 in. and 2 windows 5 ft. by 3 ft. 6 in. each" might make the heads of most today's adults swim, much less today's junior high students. The museum staff has been kind enough to provide the answers as well on their website.

"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," notes the museum's website. "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."

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Strange told the Huffington Post that the museum first posted the exam in 2012 in celebration of its 100th anniversary but it has found renewed attention after ABC News' report over the weekend.

"It is funny for us," said Strange. "We are just a rural county. Our website is used to getting a couple hundred hits but we (recently) got 200,000 (hits). We've had it on the web for about a year or so."

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