Eighth Grade Exam From 1912 Surfaces: Are You Smarter Than a Middle Schooler From 100 Years Ago?

Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky recently unearthed a test and made it available online

By John Boone Aug 12, 2013 5:59 PMTags
Eight Grade Examine 1912The Bullitt County History Museum

In 1912, eighth grade students were quizzed on reading, arithmetic, grammar, geography, physiology (physiology!), civil government and history.

100 years later, eighth graders are quizzed on, we don't know...twerking? 

An eighth grade "Common Exam" from 1912 was recently donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky, also available in full on their website. And it's hard—the site also explains that, "It should not be used to compare student knowledge then and now."

A museum volunteer, David Lee Strange, tells ABC News, "For us, this is just fascinating. It puts us in the mindset of 1912." The site explains that students came together to take this test once or twice a year and it was a big deal, with scholarships for high school given out to the students who excelled.

So, are you smarter than an eighth grader from 1912? (Probably not). 

A few questions from each category, spelling and reading excluded:


1. Write in words the following: .5764; .000003; .123416; 653.0965; 43.37.

2. 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.

3. How long of a rope is required to reach from the top of a building 40 ft. high, to the ground 30 ft. from the base of the building?


1. How many parts of speech are there? Define each.

2. What properties have verbs?

3. Diagram: The Lord loveth a cheerful giver.


1. Define longitude and latitude.

2. Name and give the capital of States touching the Ohio River.

3. Name in the order of their size the three largest States in the United States.


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; Cerebellum.

3. What are the functions (or uses) of the spinal column?

Civil Government

1. Name five county officers, and the principal duties of each.

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

3. Describe the manner in which the president and vice-president of the United States are elected.


1. Who first discovered the following places: Florida, Pacific Ocean, Mississippi River, St. Lawrence River?

2. Name the last battle of the Civil War; War of 1812; French and Indian War and the commanders in each battle.

3. Who invented the following: Magnetic, Telegraph, Cotton Gin, Sewing Machine, Telephone, Phonograph.

You can find all of the answers here.

Damn. Eighth graders in 1912 were smart. Like, Jeopardy smart.