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Are you Smarter than a 1912 Bullitt County Eighth Grader?


The above test comes to us from the good folks of Bullitt County, Kentucky and is an end of the year test for 8th Graders 100 years ago. Students took the test following a year of schooling and it was designed to see what they have learned. It is interesting to showcase not only how much harder 8th grade was then as opposed to now (my guess is that few high school Seniors would score well on this test today), but also to showcase the difference in focus. There was much more emphasis on “facts” and memorization, while also utilizing some tools long forgotten (like sentence diagrams). Test yourself and see how you did….the answers are at the link above.

Article written by Matt Jones

55 Comments for Are you Smarter than a 1912 Bullitt County Eighth Grader?

  1. Quit 8th Grade
    9:21 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    No wonder you hear so many old people say they quit school in 8th grade.

  2. RJ
    9:22 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Ain’t got no time for tests, Matt Jones! Hard Knocks starts tonight! Bengals! (And, presumably, some BenGALS)

  3. Really?
    9:27 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink


  4. Richie Farmer's mustache
    9:38 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Wow! I’m pretty sure I’d fail this test and I’ve been out of high school since 2000!

  5. the anti cat
    9:42 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Looks like tomorrows make fun of ryan segment is written.

  6. Jason
    9:42 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    I call BS. You got scammed.

  7. Give me a racoon, please.
    9:43 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Um, not to be “that guy,” but 1 this isn’t that hard, 2 the difficult parts are mostly a result of contemporary relevence and 3 we have no idea how well students did on this test in 1912. That being said I have no idea how much wood is in a cord.

  8. JTurn4
    9:44 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Sketch briefly Sir Walter Raleigh?

  9. Matt Jones
    9:45 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    You are right…the Bullitt County History Museum is always in the business of a good scam

  10. Shawon
    9:49 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    OK, who the hell was Peter Stuyvesant???

    I hope this was open notes.

  11. Beverly Hillbillies
    9:50 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Jethro was from Tennessee and gadgeated the 6th grade…… My guess is Tennessee had a similar test in his future. I’m not sure how many teachers could pass this let alone Lemon

  12. lexslamman
    9:50 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    The only thing difficult about this test is the vagueness of some of the questions – like the ‘French and Indian War’ question – that could be interpreted in several ways, as the F&I war was part of the Seven Years War and actually had a rather ambiguous ending (I would say it ended in Newfoundland, but that is debatable)

    The state and local government questions are difficult because they come long before the big constitutional changes Kentucky went through in the 1970s – but the history, geography, physiology, grammar and arithmetic questions should be answerable by anyone with a decent public education who didn’t sleep through their classes.

  13. lexslamman
    9:51 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink


    Dutch governor of the Americas.

  14. Jason
    9:54 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    8 – thanks for the sarcasm.

    Point is exactly what 7 said.

    Besides, I know this is just for fun – so I wouldn’t take it so seriously.

  15. Matt Jones
    9:59 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    You people never cease to amaze me. No matter the topic, nothing is surprising and you know everything. If you believe the average 8th grader could get even half of these questions correct, you are fooling yourself…I am sure they all know the Dutch Governor of the Americas and details on the Battle of Quebec

  16. Greg Paulus' Keester
    10:05 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    5 of all the questions and moments Ryan has been made a fool, this test he would ace. That being said…..Matt just made my pancreas hurt with this post. Im completely retarded.

  17. Wildcatsteeler
    10:05 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    I just flunked that by a long shot.

  18. RJ
    10:07 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    14 – Matt, welcome to the Internet, where everyone (presumably) knows everything.

    I mean, who in the Kentucky educational system DOESN’T know who the Dutch Governor of the Americas was?

    All answers from Clay County are prohibited, since the only Dutch thing they are familiar with are Dutch Ovens.

  19. Test
    10:08 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Students today are not taught these things…. They are taught how to pass the end of the year test for school bonus money. The last 4 weeks before summer is field trips to Kings Island and other fun things.

  20. Greg Paulus' Keester
    10:11 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    17 AGREED LOL. That’s priceless.

  21. UK Homer
    10:16 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    will there be a curve?

  22. Catlogic15
    10:16 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    #10 Beverly Hillbillies… I don’t believe the Clampetts ever mentioned from which state they actually were from. People presumed Tennessee, but it was never mentioned on the show.

  23. 9-asty
    10:26 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    11- I am sure that you are, in fact, a genius and this is all so simple for you. I went to one of the top public middle and high schools in the state (according to cats testing), and I sure as hell did not learn physiology in the 8th grade.

  24. BBB
    10:27 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    You have obvisously not got to see the K-Prep test given today throughout the state. This test looks like 3rd grade work compared to it.

  25. Really??
    10:31 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    #24. And you obviously did not pass it.

  26. BigBlue
    10:37 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Most 8th graders in public schools in KY could not even read or understand the questions on that test much less answer them. And yes I have ‘got’ to see the K Prep test and it is dumbed down like all the state tests.

  27. Education Pays
    10:48 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Stop using today’s schools as escape goats and learn this stuff yourselfs!

  28. d'oh!
    10:50 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    2 things:
    First, many of these things are simply not relevant these days. Isn’t that what Google and Wikipedia are for? They didn’t have those in 1912.

    Second, the validity of this test is in question- they misspelled secrete. I don’t think the liver “secrates” anything.

  29. David
    10:54 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    I stopped reading after the typo in the word list – “eneeavor”.

  30. Beavis606
    10:55 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    12, you are full of sh&t. You would not pass that test. Same for 24. I love the unregistered comments. Everyone is a bada$$, has banged nothing but the hottest women and would shoot down Kate Upto , and everyone is a combination of Hawking and Einstein.

  31. uhmmm yeah.....
    10:56 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    I hate to be the guy, but I just graduated highschool this year and all this stuff is taught in elementary school…..I’m not even joking. 4th and 5th grade is where I learned most of this stuff. It was revisited in 8th and 11th grade too…..

  32. #22
    11:19 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    #22 know it all…. Granny referenced being from Tennessee and Pearl Jethros mom talked of going back home to Tennessee when she appeared……….. So maybe Jethro was bornedin Tennessee…….. now see if you can pass above test #22

  33. Drew Franklin
    11:40 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    No Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram back in 1912
    Three goggle was invented in 2012
    You don’t need to be a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing


  34. duh
    11:52 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink

    Matt, I wish that you would require your writers to pass this exam before they can post any additional articles. Just think about it, no more Aaron Flenor, no more Will Totten etc.

  35. lexslamman
    11:58 pm August 6, 2013 Permalink


    I went to SCAPA for middle school and Lafayette for high school. We were certainly taught about this stuff in Middle School.

    Anyone who doesn’t know who Stuyvesant was is really lost when it comes to their American history, not only is he the last Dutch governor to rule over parts of what are now the United States, he is also the guy who designed much of New York as we now know it – he built Wall Street and Broadway, for god’s sake. What is wrong with you people? We let you guys vote?

  36. Peaz
    12:11 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    I bet everyone of the people on here spouting off about how easy this is couldn’t get above 80 percent on it if they took it legit – even having read the test in advance.

    Thanks to Matt for a fascinating look at the past in a medium to which we can all on some level relate, even if some of us are still so insecure over our schooling that we choose to puff our mental feathers over a pop quiz written on disintegrating paper

  37. Peaz
    12:18 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    For those interested in this sort of thing, here is what it took to get into Harvard in 1869

    Minus the Greek and Latin the type of questioning is pretty similar to the bullitt exam

  38. Women Everywhere
    12:34 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    I need a year of schooling first

  39. PB3
    12:42 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    That’s difficult, makes sense that everyone from Bullit Co gives up on life after 8th grade

  40. Frank Zappa
    12:50 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    clipped from liner notes from “Mothers of Invention Freak Out”, Circa 1966:

    “Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.”

  41. NerdsRule
    1:10 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Sure.. they may have known who the Dutch Governor of the Americas was, but could they revive a dead Webserver? Nerds Rule.. Good work server dude!

  42. Kevin C.
    2:55 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Forget a curve….a complete circle wouldn’t save my ass on that test.

  43. Right all along
    6:44 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    #32. Read the Overview of “The Beverly Hillbilies” on Wikipedia.

    The Clampetts never mentioned one time what state they moved to Beverly Hills from.

  44. cathalchan
    7:58 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Mark Emmert should be required to pass this test, and if he doesn’t, he should be replaced with Jay Bilas. Come to think of it, he should be replaced with Jay Bilas anyway. Let’s start a draft Bilas for NCAA president campaign. Also, we want to know how Matt scored on the test. FERPA did not exist in 1912.

  45. Dumb and Dumb
    8:36 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    This was education in America before the teachers union screwed it up. Now our public schools produce low information voters who elect morons like Obama

  46. David P 19
    9:00 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Leave it to way over-the-op right wingers to blame EVERYthing wrong in the world on Obama. Way to justify sitting on your hands as things deteriorate around the average working man

  47. paducahfan
    9:19 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Now we have calculators for the math, spellcheck for spelling errors, and Google for general knowledge. As long as we have smart phones, we can be stupid but appear to be as smart as eighth graders from a hundred years ago.

  48. asdf
    9:44 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    These days, as long as kids have high self-esteem, it doesn’t matter that they have no real education to justify their having such an inflated esteem level.

  49. barn
    10:05 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    I bet 90% of today’s high school seniors couldn’t score a 70 on that test.

  50. Teachable Mo'
    10:37 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    A high school education in the 19th century meant something. I can’t remember exactly, but I think that in NYC there were only around 1000 high school graduates, city-wide, when Henry Miller (The Tropic of Cancer) graduated from high school. You were a Big Cheese if you graduated from high school.

    As for blaming teachers unions for our ills that’s one of those self-defeating arguments. Yes, the test scores from union teachers are terrible. In fact the only group they’re better than are from students of non-union teachers.

    Plus, from the comments above, the love the idea of escape goats. We all need escape goats. For some reason, when I think of escape goats, I think of the great parody, “Bored of the Rings”. I could be wrong, but I think the original cover had a dwarf riding a goat.

  51. CPACAT
    11:00 am August 7, 2013 Permalink

    #35) Re: Stuyvesant…Also the “run down” housing project in Manhattan known as Bedford-Stuyvesant are referred to as “Bedford-Sty” in the Billy Joel song, “You May Be Right”.

    Good to know your history!

  52. YourBoyBlue
    12:14 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    50. Its “scapegoats” and there went any validity your post may have had. I’m a history teacher and this test is more difficult than the KPREP test high school and middle school students take at this time…by a long shot. With that being said the teachers, including myself, teach students what our legislators require us too. Choice is not ours…and yes, we are judged by how well students do on end of the year test so why wouldn’t we gear lessons toward excelling on those tests? It doesn’t mean I agree with it, but it is what it is.

  53. STEVE!
    12:58 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    52 – RE: “Escape Goats” vs Scapegoats. You must not have been visiting this site for long.

  54. Megan
    2:35 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    The Washington Post and HuffPo ran this story in January. The Courier-Journal ran it in February. Thought KSR had posted it around that same time, but perhaps they’re just now getting around to it.

    Some people, such as Matt, will tell you that this test shows how much harder 8th grade was 100 years ago, or how much our educational system has deteriorated over the last 100 years. That’s nonsense. Snopes has the right perspective on this.

  55. David Strange
    8:04 pm August 7, 2013 Permalink

    Here is a link to the answer sheet ( at least, as good as we could answer the questions 🙂 ) with some explanations.
    This version of the exam was probably a version given out to teachers (note that the spelling words wouldn’t be written on a test.) I am told that it was handed out in a scroll form (that is why the paper is long.) The typos would have been corrected simply by contacting the teachers and telling them to mark their copies accordingly, much like would be done today. Bullitt County Schools were mostly one-room schools in those days, scattered around the rural county. The exam, called a “Common Exam,” was apparently a big deal. The local newspaper urged students to do well, and scholarships were provided to those who passed to go on to high school, which was also a big deal back then. In those days, high school was another county away and a rare thing for most farm children to be able to otherwise attend. Some of the questions are relevant for the time it was given, such as the geography questions about south/central Europe (These countries were already beginning to boil into what would become WWI; in which, by the way, 18 Bullitt students would soon die.
    And remember, despite that sad last sentence, to smile a little while reading this exam. 🙂