Can You Pass an 8th Grade Test From 1879?

By: Zoe Samuel
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
Can You Pass an 8th Grade Test From 1879?
Image: Caiaimage/SamEdwards/OJO+/gettyimages

About This Quiz

After the founding of America in 1776, for the first couple of generations, there was no rule that said education was compulsory. After all, the vast majority of children were going ot either be subsistence farmers, go into the trades, learn their job by apprenticing to someone in the field, or do some mind-numbing factory job that didn't require much education . Reading and writing were useful, but much more than that felt like a luxury. There was school, of course, but it was funded by private individuals and philanthropists, meaning you had to either come from a family of means or luck into having your schooling paid for by some benevolent rich person. This meant that it was not until the mid-1800s that primary education began to become available to everyone. While doubtless the first generation of children to be stuck in school did not appreciate this very much, it did lay the groundwork for the middle class to explode and for millions of people to be lifted from poverty and better themselves.

These days, we take school for granted as a fact of childhood. It's just what you do. Still, has it gotten harder or easier since the first universal classrooms were filled? Let's find out!

Which of these is NOT a rule for the use of capital letters?
Use at the start of a sentence.
Use for nouns mid-sentence.
You don't use capital letters for nouns in English, unless they're at the beginning of a sentence or they're proper nouns. That means words like New York or America.
Use for proper nouns like place names and people's names.
Use for acronyms.

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Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
$3.36
$20.16
It's 2,000 pounds to a ton so 6720lbs is 3.36 tons. Multiply by $6 to get $20.16.
$7.01
$42.09

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Which of these is NOT one of the principal organs of digestion?
Pharynx
Small Intestine
Kidneys
Kidneys clean your blood. They do not help you digest. You can live with just one kidney, so if you know someone who needs the other, you can donate it without much risk.
Esophagus

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Blood in the circulatory system starts on the rest between beats. It goes into the atria on the first beat. Where does it go next?
Aortic artery
Capillaries
Femoral artery
Ventricles
It's atria, then ventricles, and then the aorta. After that it branches into smaller arteries, down to capillaries. It comes back via veins. You can remember it's out via arties and back via veins thusly, "A, A, Arteries away!"

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What are the "organs of special sense"?
Organs to do with vision.
Organs with one specific purpose related to a sense.
Organ of special sense are things like eyes, ears or nose. These are opposed to a sense like touch, which all your organs have a little of (except the brain, it doesn't really feel).
Organs generally.
Organs with only one function.

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What is hygiene?
When your parents nag you to clean your room for no reason.
Using methods like shaving, cleaning and deodorant to cover up or prevent body odor.
Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.
Hygiene includes proactive health maintenance and disease prevention. For example, flossing doesn't just make your breath nicer. It also stops you getting gum disease.
Methods that are deployed to improve health, such as working out and cleaning yourself.

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Define agriculture.
Farming land instead of letting it be wild.
Growing crops and rearing animals.
The full definition of agriculture is this: the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products. These days, you can also "farm" carbon by changing methods of farming to put more of it into the soil. Agroforestry is farming in a way that preserves trees, which is increasingly viable.
Clearing woodland for farming.
Keeping land in

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Which of these is NOT a kind of soil?
Loam
Sandy
Peaty
Grainy
Grainy soil is not a real thing, even though some soil has a grainy characteristic. Loam, chalky, saline, sandy, clay and peaty are all types of soil.

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What plants are called root crops?
Crops where you eat the part that is above the ground.
Crops that you only plant to provide nutrition to the roots of edible crops.
Crops that you cannot eat but are good for the soil.
Crops where you eat the part that is below the ground.
Root crops are anything where you eat the piece below the ground. For example, turnip, charlock, rutabaga, potato, carrot, parsnip.

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In gardening, what is a cutting?
When you slice the bark of a tree to get the sap.
When you cut off a piece of a plant and grow it into a new plant.
Cuttings are pieces cut off plants that then grow into new plants. Not all cuttings can do this, but some do. The soil and water conditions have to be appropriate to make it work.
When you cut a plant to stimulate its growth.
When you mow a moss lawn.

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Which is NOT one of most important cereal crops in the USA?
Rice
Wheat
Quinoa
Quinoa (keen-war) is not a staple crop of the US, though it should be as it is delicious and nutritious. Rice, maize, and wheat are the big three.
Maize

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Which of these is NOT an insect pest?
Ladybug
Ladybugs are insects, but they are on our side. They eat the bad guys, such as aphids.
Weevil
Cricket
Aphid

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What is punctuation?
Marks that separate sentences and clarify their elements and meaning.
The full definition is: "the marks, such as period, comma, and parentheses, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning."
Anything that interrupts or causes a pause.
Marks that frame clauses in English.
Marks like period, comma, etc, that end sentences.

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Which is NOT one of the three branches of the government?
Legislature
Military
One of the principles of democracy is the military is not part of the government. It is outside politics and has a civilian commander-in-chief.
Judiciary
Executive

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What is meant by equal suffrage?
Every citizen gets to vote.
Every adult gets to vote.
Every man gets to vote.
Every vote counts the same.
The principle that every vote is the same "size" is essential to our democracy. This is called "one man, one vote".

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Explain the cause of seasons.
Rotation of the Earth.
Orbit of the Earth.
Tilt of the Earth.
The Earth's tilt is what causes seasons. That's why they are more extreme at the poles, where the tilt is most dramatic. When your hemisphere is tilted "away," you get a colder season. The equator, being always the same distance fromt he sun, does not have seasons.
Distance of the Earth from the sun.

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What shape is the orbit of the Earth around the sun?
Circle
Egg
Oval
Elliptical
The orbit of the Earth is an elliptical one. That is, it's a long, thin oval where the length is several times the width.

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What are the Grand Divisions of Tennessee?
Three branches of government.
Three military departments.
Serious historical racial tensions.
Three geographical regions.
Tennessee is sometimes thought of being three states: East, Middle, and West. These areas are culturally and geographically fairly distinctive.

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In what country is the city of Mumbai?
India
Mumbai was known as Bombay in 1879, so we have updated the question. It's the home of the Indian film industry, which is now bigger than Hollywood.
China
Sri Lanka
Bangladesh

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Which of these states does NOT border on the Gulf of Mexico?
Texas
Mississippi
Alabama
Arkansas
Arkansas is landlocked. The other states listed here are all coastal states in the Gulf.

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What is the biggest sector of the US economy?
Finance and insurance.
Real estate sales, renting, and leasing.
Real estate is the biggest industry at the moment, bigger even than finance, oil, or manufacturing. Healthcare and government are also very big. Of course, we gave the correct answer for today; back in 1879 it was most likely agriculture.
Energy, renewable and fossil fuel.
Durable manufacturing.

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Which of these cities (not counting the bigger metro area) is NOT in the top ten biggest in the USA?
Miami
Miami is big, but not in the top ten; in fact, it's not in the top 20. When you include the metro areas, it leaps to number 8.
New York
Phoenix
Houston

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Where is the emphasis in the word "palatable"?
Pal-AT-able
PAL-atable
It's palatable to say this word with the emphasis up front. In the original exam you had to do a couple dozen of these!
Palat-ABle
PALAT-able

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What is 7/8 as a decimal?
0.8
0.9
0.875
One eighth is 0.125 so seven of them is 0.875. It's one eighth less than a whole 1!
0.85

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How many parties are there to a promissory note?
1
2
A promissory note is a guarantee between two parties that one will pay the other a specified amount on a specified date. We don't really use them much any more, of course.
3
4

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Which of these is NOT part of a complete sentence?
Subject
Adverb
Adverbs are not necessary for sentences. You do need to have a subject and a verb. You can have a question mark or other similar mark instead of a period.
Verb
Period or similar

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Which of the below is NOT a complete sentence?
He walked.
She is the tallest.
Saying the way.
Since we've established in a prior question that we need an object and a verb, the non-sentence here is the one that is missing one of those. There is no object in "saying the way". It's nonsense on its own.
Do they know?

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Which of the below is the root of the verb in the phrase, "He told the truth"?
Told
Tells
Tell
"To tell" is the infinitive of this verb. Thus the root is "tell".
Telling

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Which of the below includes a modal verb?
I must.
There are not a lot of modal verbs and they have a special purpose; to express the conditional, permission, prohibition, etc. They are "bare infinitives" that have no "to". Examples are must, should, can, and shall.
He goes.
She smiles.
They wink.

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Which of these is NOT a notable explorer?
William Clark
Christopher Columbus
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was a founder. The other three are all notable explorers, though only Wiliam Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) is American.
Marco Polo

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What Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery?
11th
13th
The Thirteenth Amendment is a sticky one as technically it allows for enslaving those who have been "duly convicted" of a crime. However it was the mechanism whereby the slaves of the South were freed.
15th
19th

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Which of these is NOT one of the original Thirteen Colonies?
Carolina
Massachusetts
Delaware
Kentucky
Kentucky was not one of the original colonies that became the first thirteen states. Those were: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

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Which of the below was NOT invented in the 19th century?
Telegraph
The semaphore telegraph was invented in 1792 by Claude Chappe. Telegraph was a precursor to telephone, and was a good way to send messages compared to what came before it.
Steam engine
Locomotive
Telephone

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Which of the below is NOT a Cabinet level position in the USA?
State
War
There is a Secretary of Defense in the Cabinet who is in charge of military strategy, funding, and security, but he or she is not called the Secretary of War. This is a little cheeky since war is as much his or her job as peace.
Education
Interior

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What was the result of the Constitutional Convention of 1787?
The writing of the Constitution.
The new states got together in 1787 to write a better set of governing articles than the Articles of Confederation. James Madison wrote most of the Constitution though others weighed in and amended it.
The signing of the Constitution.
The abolishing of the Articles of Confederation.
The Declaration of Independence.

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