As students across the state head back to school for another year, it's time for you to test how your knowledge measures up to students from years past.

The following questions have been taken from a late 1870s Ohio certification exam for prospective teachers; an 1885 New Jersey high school entrance exam; an 1895 Kansas eighth grade final exam; a 1900 teacher certification exam; a 1912 eighth grade test from Bullitt County, Ky.; and the first SAT, given in 1926.

1870s teacher certification exam

According to a Snopes article, the following five questions were prepared by the Examiners of Teachers for the Public Schools in Zanesville, Ohio, and were given in the late 1870s:


Give a brief example of a compound and a complex sentence. Give the rule for the use of the subjunctive mood.


Compound sentence: A sentence with more than one subject or predicate.

>> The neighbors waved, so I waved back.

Complex sentence: A sentence containing a subordinate clause or clauses.

>> The students were excited because they were going on a field trip.

Subjunctive mood: Subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express something that is contrary to fact (i.e., "If I were a rich man.")


Give the feminines of abbot, earl, duke, lad, marquis, hero, tiger, nephew, testator, bachelor, wizard, and ox.


Abbot: Abbess

Earl: Countess

Duke: Duchess

Lad: Lass

Marquis: Marquess

Hero: Heroine

Tiger: Tigress

Nephew: Niece


Bachelor: Maid/spinster

Wizard: Witch

Ox: Cow


Define integer, fraction, interest, discount, power, and root


Integer: A whole number; a number that is not a fraction.

Fraction: A numerical quantity that is not a whole number

Interest: Money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt

Discount: A deduction from the usual cost of something, typically given for prompt or advance payment or to a special category of buyers

Power: The number of times a certain number is to be multiplied by itself

Root: A number or quantity that when multiplied by itself, typically a specified number of times, gives a specified number or quantity


Into what three functions is the government of the United States divided? Define each function.


Keep order: The power to create laws is given to the Legislative branch.

Settle conflict: The judicial system in the U.S. sorts through legislation and ensures that laws are constitutional.

Protect the community: The executive branch is in charge of implementing and enforcing the laws created by Congress and acting as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. branches of the armed forces.


Into what bodies of water do the following rivers flow: The Danube, Rhone, Volga, Tiber, Rio Grande, Jordan, and Mahoning.


The Danube: The Black Sea

Rhone: The Mediterranean Sea

Volga: The Caspian Sea

Tiber: Tyrrhenian Sea

Rio Grande: Gulf of Mexico

Jordan: Dead Sea

Mahoning: Beaver River

1885 high school admissions test

On June 9, 1992, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled, "Sharpen Your Pencil, and Begin Now." The article contained the text of an admissions test to Jersey City High School, given in 1885. According to the article, the questions were first reprinted in the now-defunct New Jersey newspaper, the Hudson Dispatch.

Note: The Wall Street Journal article was retrieved using a subscription to the ProQuest Newsstand database.

Here are five questions included in that 1885 exam:


If a 60 days note of $840 is discounted at a bank at 4 1/2 percent what are the proceeds?


Using a 360-day year, $833.70; using a 365-day year, $833.79.


A merchant sold a quantity of goods for $18,775. He deducts 5 percent for cash and then finds that he has made 10 percent. What did he pay for the goods?




New York is nearly 75 [degrees] west of London. When it is noon at the former, what time is it at the latter?


5 p.m.


What event do you connect with 1565, 1607, 1620, 1664, 1775?


1565: Pedro Menendez founded St. Augustine, Fla.

1607: Jamestown settled

1620: 103 Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock

1664: British seized New Netherland from Dutch

1775: Battles of Lexington and Concord


Correct (a) It is only me. (b) Who did she invite? (c) Whenever my husband or son take an umbrella down town, they always leave it.


A) It is only I. Predicate nominative.

B) Whom did she invite? Object of verb invite.

C) Whenever my husband or son takes an umbrella downtown, he always leaves it. The "or" makes the subject grammatically singular; the rest of the sentence applies to either one or the other, but not both at once (as would be the case if the word were "and").

1895 eighth grade exam

The 1895 eighth grade exam from Salina, Kansas, was given to and posted online by the Smoky Valley Genealogical Society. It was also reprinted in the Salina Journal and spread across the Internet soon after.

Here are five questions included in that 1895 exam:


Define verse, stanza, and paragraph


Verse: Writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme. A group of lines that form a unit in a poem or song; a stanza,

Stanza: A group of lines forming the basic recurring metrical unit in a poem; a verse.

Paragraph: A distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme and indicated by a new line, indentation, or numbering.


What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.


Punctuation: The marks, such as period, comma, and parentheses, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning.

Period: A punctuation mark (.) used at the end of a sentence or an abbreviation.

Question mark: A punctuation mark (?) indicating a question. It's a figurative used to express doubt or uncertainty about something

Exclamation mark: A punctuation mark (!) indicating an exclamation.

Semicolon: A punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.

Colon: A punctuation mark (:) indicating that a writer is introducing a quotation or a list of items, that a writer is separating two clauses of which the second expands or illustrates the first, a statement of proportion between two numbers : a ratio of 10:1, the separation of hours from minutes (and minutes from seconds) in a statement of time given in numbers : 4:30 p.m, the number of the chapter and verse respectively in biblical references : Exodus 3:2.

The dash: A horizontal stroke in writing or printing to mark a pause or break in sense, or to represent omitted letters or words.

Parentheses: A word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it, in writing usually marked off by curved brackets ( ), dashes, or commas

Quotation marks: Each of a set of punctuation marks, single (‘ ’) or double (“ ”), used either to mark the beginning and end of a title or quoted passage or to indicate that a word or phrase is regarded as slang or jargon or is being discussed rather than used within the sentence.

Apostrophe: A punctuation mark ( ’ ) used to indicate either possession

Hyphen: A sign (-) used to join words to indicate that they have a combined meaning or that they are linked in the grammar of a sentence, to indicate the division of a word at the end of a line, or to indicate a missing or implied element


Find the cost of 6,720 lbs of coal at $6 per ton




Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?


Samuel F.B. Morse: Inventor of the telegraph

Eli Whitney: Inventor of the cotton gin

Robert Fulton: The inventor of the first successful steam powered paddlewheel boat

Alexander Graham Bell: Inventor of the telephone

Abraham Lincoln: Sixteenth president of the United States

William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania

Elias Howe: Inventor of the sewing machine


What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?


According to WebMD, "the liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions."

"The kidneys are sophisticated trash collectors," the WebMD site said. "Every day, your kidneys process about 200 quarts of blood to sift out about 2 quarts of waste products and extra water. The waste and extra water become urine, which flows to your bladder through tubes called ureters."

1900 teaching certification exam

According to two 2005 posts on, the following questions were given on a 1900 teaching certification exam in the Ohio-Indiana region. The license awarded—if a passing grade was achieved—would be good for 60 months.

Here are five questions included in that 1900s exam:


Who was Sir Roger de Coverly?


Sir Roger de Coverley is a fictional character created by Joseph Addison. The character was reportedly the author of papers and letters published in the London periodical, The Spectator. De Coverley was meant to represent a typical landed country gentleman, according to


What is the meaning of the phrase, “alternation of generations”? Give an animal form that exhibits the same in its complete development.


According to, the alternation of generations is "the alternation of a sexual phase and an asexual phase in the life cycle of an organism." Lifeforms include fungi, ferns, jellyfish, and flatworms.


Math: Define a pyramid.


On, a pyramid is defined as a polyhedron with "three or more triangular faces sharing a common vertex."


A body weights 100 lbs. at the earth’s surface. What will it weigh 2,000 miles below surface?


According to a 1914 article in The Pittsburg Press, a 100-pound body located 2,000 miles under the surface of the earth would weigh 50 pounds


Write in ten lines some facts in relation to the life of Charlemagne.


Facts could include information like:

>> Charlemagne was also called Charles I and king of the Franks
>> Charlemagne died on January 28, 814
>> Charlemagne's father was Pippin III (the Short)
>> Pippin's realm was divided between his sons Charlemagne and Carloman.
>> Charlemagne was a warrior chief
>> Charlemagne had at least 18 children
>> Charlemagne was on good terms with Pope Adrian I
>> Charlemagne helped create the Carolingian Renaissance
>> Charlemagne became Roman emperor
>> Charlemagne was buried in today's Germany

1912 eighth grade test

In July of this year, the blog reproduced a 1912 eighth grade test from Bullitt County, Ky. According to, the test was donated to the county museum and was then posted online.

Here are five questions included in that 1912 exam:


A school enrolled 120 pupils and the number of boys was two-thirds of the number of girls. How many of each sex were enrolled?


72 girls, 48 boys


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


At the time of the test, the three largest states were Texas, California, and Montana.

After Alaska became a state, the order changed to Alaska, Texas, California.


Define the following forms of government: Democracy, Limited Monarchy, Absolute Monarchy, Republic. Give examples of each.


Democracy: A pure democracy includes all of its people making all the decisions as a group.

Limited Monarchy: A limited monarchy is a form of government where a monarch acts as the head of state within the guidelines of a constitution.

Absolute Monarchy: A monarch wields unrestricted political power.

Republic: A republic consists of leadership positions that are directly or indirectly elected or appointed.

According to the website, it was likely that the United States was the expected answer for an example of a democracy in 1912. The limited monarchy answer was likely Great Britain, the absolute monarchy example was likely Russia, and the republic example was likely France.


By whom were the following settled: Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Florida?


Georgia: General James Oglethorpe

Maryland: Roman Catholic families led by the Calvert family

Massachusetts: The Pilgrims

Rhode Island: Roger Williams

Florida: Many immigrants, including French, Spanish, and Native American groups.


Who invented the following: magneto, telegraph, cotton gin, sewing machine, telephone, phonograph


Magneto: Faraday

Telegraph: Samuel Morse

Cotton gin: Eli Whitney

Sewing machine: Elias Howe

Telephone: Alexander Graham Bell

Phonograph: Thomas Alva Edison

1926 SAT

The first SAT "has been stressing out college-bound high school students since 1926," an April 2013 article said. However, the article said, that 1926 exam—which totaled 315 questions and was given in just 97 minutes—is "quite different" from the three-hour-45-minute version given today.

Here are five questions included in the 1926 exam:


If a man's salary is $20 a week, and he spends $14 a week, how long will it take him to save $300?


50 weeks


At 15 cents a yard, how much will seven feet of cloth cost?


35 cents


Each group contains six words. Three of these are related to each other in some definite way. Indicate which three are thus MOST CLOSELY RELATED by listing the numbers by each word:

Silver (1), platinum (2), amethyst (3), coinage (4), emerald (5), sapphire (6)


3, 5, 6


Each group contains six words. Three of these are related to each other in some definite way. Indicate which three are thus MOST CLOSELY RELATED by listing the numbers by each word:

Columbus (1), Socrates (2), Beethoven (3), Wagner (4), Verdi (5), Corneille (6)


3, 4, 5


Each group contains six words. Three of these are related to each other in some definite way. Indicate which three are thus MOST CLOSELY RELATED by listing the numbers by each word:

Mutter (1), pater (2), sister (3), descendiente (4), madre (5), mere (6)


1, 5, 6