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1912 Eighth Grade Exam Shows Study Differences Between Then and Now

By Michael Mullins   |   Monday, 12 Aug 2013 12:06 PM

A 1912 eighth grade exam has been unearthed by a museum in Kentucky, leading many adults who have grazed over the document asking themselves if they are smarter than an eighth-grader from 100 years ago.

"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," Strange added.

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The exam's subjects are spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology, civil government, and history.

Geographical questions in particular highlight the difference between what today's student's focus is compared with those of yesteryear.

An example is the test asking students to "locate the following countries which border each other: Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania."

While an eighth-grader today might have difficulty answering a question like that, "the students back then would have to be familiar with that part of the world," Strange told ABC News.

"1912 was right around the corner from what would become World War I. Eighteen students in Bullitt County would go on to die in that war," Strange explained.

In addition to geography questions that might prove to be a challenge for today's youth, and many adults as well, history questions considering the focus of the exam's time frame may also stump most of today's students.

Examples of such history questions that could be a challenge include:

"During what wars were the following battles fought: Brandywine, Great Meadows, Lundy's Lane, Antietam, Buena Vista?"

Brandywine - American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Great Meadows - French and Indian War (1754-1763)
Antietam - American Civil War (1861-1864)
Lundy's Lane - Anglo-American War of 1812
Buena Vista - Mexican-American War (1846-1848)

"Name 2 presidents who have died in office: three who were assassinated?" (Prior to 1912)

Two presidents who died in office were Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Three presidents who were assassinated in office were Presidents Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, and James A. Garfield.

Of course not all the questions would have been a challenge to today's youths, such as:

"What is a personal pronoun?" and "Define longitude and latitude?"

To test your knowledge against that of a 1912 eighth-grader, visit the Bullitt County History Museum’s website, where both the questions and answers are listed.

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