1912 Exam: Are You Smarter Than An Eighth Grader?

A copy of the 1912 eighth grade exam was donated to the Bullitt County History museum in Kentucky giving a glimpse of what students were learning more than a century ago.

The donation has brought the museum a notion of what it was like to be in the eighth grade in those days. David Lee Strange, a volunteer at the museum told ABC news,

“For us, this is just fascinating. It puts us in the mindset of 1912.”

The exam covers eight subjects: reading, spelling, arithmetic, grammar, physiology, history, government, and geography.

This period of time was right around the corner from World War I, eighteen men from Bullitt County would die in the conflict.

Let’s take a look at a few of these questions to see if you are smarter than a 1912 eighth grader. Can you answer the following?


1. Spell:.00003,.5764, 43.37

2. Solve: 37-7, plus 4

3. Solve: At $1.62 1/2 a cord, what will be the cost of a pile of wood 24 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 6 feet 3 inches high?


1. What is a personal noun?

2. Define common noun, proper noun.

3. Adjectives have how many degrees of comparison? Compare good; wise; beautiful.


1. Locate Erie Canal; what waters does it connect, and why it is important.

2. Locate the following countries which border each other: Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania.

3. Locate these cities: Mobile, Quebec, Buenos Aires, Liverpool, Honolulu.

Map courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin


1. How does the liver compare in size with other glands in the human body? Where is it located? What does it secrete?

2. Define Cerebrum and Cerebellum.

3. Where is the chief nervous center of the body?

Civil Government

1. Name and define the three branches of government in the United States.

2. Give three duties of the President. What is meant by the veto power?

3. Name three rights given Congress by the Constitution and two rights denied Congress


1. Who first discover the following places: Florida, Pacific Ocean, Miss (Mississippi) River, St. Lawrence River?

2. Describe the battle of Quebec.

3. Name two Presidents who have died in office: three who were assassinated.

The museum was told that the several typos seen in the document are due to the difference in spelling in those days, for example Servia was actually spelled that way. Also, the document is long because it was in scroll form.

The spelling and reading questions were more than likely given by the teacher at the time of the test.

Bullitt County schoolhouses were one room schools scattered around the rural county and students came to the courthouse once or twice a year to take the exam.

For the answers to the 1912 eighth grade exam go to the Bullitt County History Museum website.

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