The 1912 eighth grade exam asking questions that span eight subjects including spelling, reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology, civil government and history is putting today’s knowledge to the test. The 1912 eighth grade examination for Bullitt County schools in Kentucky is finding some people embarrassed but most importantly laughing according to an Aug. 11, 2013, ABC News report.
The copy of the 1912 eight grade exam that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum is in excellent condition and the museum’s website provides the questions and answers for the 1912 eighth grade exam.
In regard to the 1912 eight grade exam, the Bullitt County History Museum writes that “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.”
However, the exam that was given to eighth grade students in 1912 is quite interesting since it covers some subject content that is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
One cannot help but think of how many heart attacks could be prevented if people would be able to “compare arteries and veins as to function” and to answer the question as to “where is the blood carried to be purified?”
How about “where is the chief nervous center of the body?”
Being able to define the Cerebrum and the Cerebellum, being able to “describe the heart,” or naming “the organs of circulation” are as relevant health topics today as they were 100 years ago.
Similar to the science questions, some of the math and geography questions of the 1912 eighth grade exam are equally relevant.
Some of the questions in the 1912 eighth grade exam appear to have prepared students for a world in business and the work place. Can you differentiate between copyright and patent rights?
According to the Bullitt County History Museum, the version of the 1912 eighth grade exam was most likely a master version given out to the schools since some of the words are misspelled and the spelling words given to the students were written on the 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.”
In 1912, Bullitt County schools were mainly one-room schools that could be found scattered in rural areas and students would come together at the county courthouse once or twice a year to take the 1912 eighth grade exam which was considered to be a “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.”
By publicizing the 1912 eighth grade exam, the Bullitt County History Museum hopes to provide modern readers with a challenge, with some historical knowledge, and – most importantly – with some fun.
“And remember to smile a little while reading this exam.”