1912 8th Grade Exam vs. 2013 8th Grade Exam: Which Is Tougher?

LOL 24

examHey, let's all play the 8th grade edition of  "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" Actually, let's play the 1912 version of the 8th grade edition of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" If, that is, you're in the mood for a little humiliation. Here's the story: An authentic 1912 8th grade exam  was recently donated to Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky, and since then, the difficulty of the test has been generating buckets of buzz. Because quite frankly, not only are you most likely NOT smarter than an 8th grader in 1912, the average 8th grader in 2013 is most likely NOT smarter than an 8th grader in 1912, either. So this is not a case of creaky, cobweb-filled adult brains unable to access volumes of facts and figures learned years ago -- this is a case of school being way, way harder way back when. 

How much harder? Well, let's "compare and contrast" (I'm pretty sure that term was on MY 8th grade exam!) the two tests and find out ...



Solve the equation below for x.

x+9 = 5 (4x-2)

a.) 1 b.) 10 c.) –8 d.) –10


A man sold a watch for $180 and lost 16 2/3 a/c. What was the cost of the watch?



A gazelle eats grass and is later eaten by a tiger. Which is the prey?

1. lion 2. tiger 3. grass 4. gazelle


How does the liver compare in size to other organs of the body? Where is it located? What does it secrete?



Which of the following is not an official language of Switzerland?

a.) French b.) Italian c.) Spanish d. German


Through what waters would a vessel pass in going from England through the Suez Canal to Manila?

Anyway, you get the point. (By the way, all of the present day q's are from actual exams used in schools. I did not make them up!)

Were you able to answer any of the questions from the 1912 8th grade exam? 

Image via jonnygatenby/Flickr

school, news


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Roxanne

The math problem you presented for Today is not an equation because there is no equal sign. There is nothing to solve, it's just an expression. It's been typed incorrectly.

Todd Vrancic

@Roxanne, I knew there was something wrong with the math example, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

bills... billsfan1104

Ty Todd and Roxanne. I am an idiot when it comes to Math, and I am glad it wasn't me

youth... youthfulsoul

I don't know if they're necessarily harder, just different subject matter.

sylph... sylph_ironlight

These tests are hardly comparable. It's like IQ tests. If you ask someone who has never learned algebra to do an algebraic equation and they can't, they are deemed to have a lower IQ. But all it is is that they haven't been taught the material. Are kids these days taught the same things they taught in 1912? No. Therefore, they wouldn't have the ability to answer the 1912 test as they had never learned the same material. If it were possible to send a 2013 test back and give it to kids from 1912, they wouldn't be able to answer the questions either.

And that math question is jacked.

paigeR11 paigeR11

The education buzz-phrase of this decade has so far been  "increasing rigor." Food for thought.  

Foley... Foleygirl24

I learned all those things from the 1912 test in 8th grade (in the early 90s), has school really changed that much in the last 20 years?

nonmember avatar Michael

Can't answer many of the questions? Thank a liberal educator. You see, many of those subjects have simply been declared "not relevant to our experience," especially for young black kids (oh, gee, nothing racist there, right?). That's why Rachel Jeantel cannot read cursive. Conclusion: cursive is dead, anyway - or should be (according to a privileged white professor at some nutty university). Here's the deal, though. You could take that exam to 8th and 9th graders in Holland and they would answer almost every question correctly. Nice going, America.

nonmember avatar Ryan

The watch was originally $216. All you need for the problem even without a calculator is to the understand the concept of percentages, algebra, and carry out long division, which all modern 8th graders should.

nonmember avatar kaerae

back when parents held their kids responsible for a bad grade, not their teacher.
@MICHAEL - No Child Left Behind was your baby, not ours!

1-10 of 24 comments 123 Last