Eighth Grade Examinations

Imagine it is 1916, and you are finishing eighth grade at a one-room school in rural Black Hawk County, Iowa. Your father has agreed that you can go on to high school in town. However, in order to do so, you must pass the state’s eighth-grade examination. Your teacher has been helping you prepare, using a review guide issued by the County Superintendent.

Below are some of the questions you may need to be ready to answer, taken from the examinations administered in 1914 and 1915. You can find images of original examination pages here.

Reading
- Give your best thought on the importance of the study and practice of reading in its relation to your future attainments and your usefulness as a member of society. Write one paragraph.
- Why do you desire to be a good reader? What are three of the most common errors in reading?
- Explain the use of punctuation marks. Name five of the most common.

Civil Government of Iowa
- Name as least three duties devolving on the Board of Supervisors.
- What is the business of the Grand Jury?
- Show how a bill may become a law.

Civics
- Who levies the county taxes? Who collects them? Name five uses made of the taxes collected.
- Name ten state institutions and give location of each.
- How may our State Constitution be amended?

United States History
- What was the Missouri Compromise? The Dred Scott decision? Give approximate date for each.
- Name five important inventions and give name of inventor of each. Discuss the effect of any two of these inventions upon the progress of our country.
- Name five principal battles of the Civil War and tell who won each. Give five facts about the battle of Gettysburg.

Orthography
- Give the meaning of five of the following prefixes and use each of the five as part of a word: circum, super, re, anti, pre, sub, inter.
- What three things may be learned concerning a word by reference to the dictionary?
- Define oral spelling, written spelling, and give advantages of each method.

Music
- Name and illustrate four kinds of notes and rests corresponding to them.
- How does the chromatic scale differ from the major diatonic scale, and how many notes does it contain.
- Define scale, solo, chord, chorus, and duet.

Grammar
- Give the three kinds of pronouns and define each. Also illustrate.
- Name five uses of the noun. Illustrate each by an original sentence.
- Conjugate the verb GO through all the tenses of the indicative mode.

Physiology
- Name two ways of distinguishing arterial blood from venous blood. Name the different kinds of corpuscles and state the work each does.
- Name a list of five or more wholesome articles of food and state how they are transformed into blood and various tissues of the body.
- Explain the value of the skeleton, and name the bones of the arm, wrist, and hand.

Arithmetic
- Fine the Greatest Common Divisor and Least Common Multiple of 30, 60, 210.
- Find the cost of a farm ½ mile square at $110 per acre.
- A man wishes to carpet a room sixteen by eighteen feet and does not wish to cut a strip or turn any carpet under. Which way must the strips run if the carpet is 27 inches wide?

Writing
- Name three of the most important characteristics of good writing.
- Name three different movements that may be used and describe each.
- How may speed be cultivated? What is meant by uniform slant?

Penmanship
- Name and describe the different movements used in writing? Which do you prefer? Why?
- Write four lines of different movement drills and explain the object of each.
- Name in order of importance three essentials in good business writing.

Geography
- Draw a sketch map of the United States and locate the capital and principal rivers.
- Name five of the principal products which Iowa sells to the world. Name five articles purchased by Iowans from without the state.
- What are the two principal motions of the earth, and what results from each?

Agriculture
- Why is the color of the soil lighter on the hill tops? What is erosion? How may the fertility of the soil be conserved?
- How would you determine whether or not a dairy cow was a profitable investment? Give the chief points in a type of dairy cow.
- Give reasons for crop rotation and indicate a rotation adapted to the farms of your community.