Are you smarter than an eighth grader? Probably not

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This is only a test. And be forewarned -- you'll probably fail.

1) A man bought a farm for $2,400 and sold it for $2,700. What percent did he gain?

2) What properties have verbs?

3) Name and give the capitals of states touching the Ohio River.

4) Where is the chief nervous center in the body?

5) Name three duties of the President and what is meant by veto power?

So, are you smarter than an eighth-grader? What about an eighth-grader from 100 years ago?

Those questions appeared on the eighth-grade examination in 1912 for Bullitt County Schools in Shepherdsville, Ky. Recently, the Bullitt County History Museum received a copy of the exam as a donation. Turns out, the test was given twice a year in small one-room school houses around the county. Scholarships were provided to some of the students who passed the exam and went on to high school -- as back then, it was rare for farm children to continue their education after eighth grade.

The test, which covered spelling, reading, math, grammar, geography, physiology, government and history is fascinating to read. Those eighth-grade students needed to know the names and boundaries of time zones, the approximate size of the liver and the names and duties of their county officers. They had to put together arguments for studying physiology and were asked to describe the Battle of Quebec.

Reading through the test last week, I was reminded of the film "Idiocracy." It's about an average Joe who wakes up 500 years in the future and finds he is the most intelligent person in a dumbed-down society. I guess in a way, you could look at the film as a metaphor for what's happened to our world over the last 100 years. Maybe we've become so dumbed down with technology, we don't realize how much knowledge we're really losing.

I'd be curious to know what eighth-grader knows the answers to any of those questions now. Not to mention, how many adults would pass the test today? I bet not many.

So are you smarter than an eighth-grader? Probably not an eighth-grader from Bullitt County in 1912. But that's OK, taking the exam is still kind of fun. Just remember not to use Google or your smartphone for help.

Take the full test at bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/schoolexam1912.html. The museum also has a page with the answers.

Answers:
1) $2700 - $2400 = $300. Divide the increase by the original amount, or 300 / 2400 = .125 or 12.5 percent.

2) The properties of verbs are person, number, tense, voice and mood.

3) Kentucky (Frankfort); Ohio (Columbus); Indiana (Indianapolis); West Virginia (Charleston); Pennsylvania (Harrisburg); Illinois (Springfield).

4) The body's chief nervous center includes first the brain and then the spinal cord.

5) The president is constitutionally obligated to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." He appoints ambassadors, member of his Cabinet, and federal judges with the advice and consent of the Senate. He directs foreign policy and is commander in chief of the armed forces. He has the power of the veto whereby all bills passed by Congress must be presented to him. He may sign the bill, allowing it to become law; he may veto it and return it to Congress with his objections; or he may take no action. If he vetoes the bill, Congress may override his veto by voting two-thirds majority approval. If he takes no action for ten working days, and Congress is still in session, then the bill becomes law without his signature. However if Congress has adjourned, the bill does not become law. This is commonly known as a pocket veto.

Source: Bullitt County History Museum

Rachel Brougham writes about a number of subjects in this column which appears each Thursday. Email her at rbrougham@petoskeynews.com and let her know how you scored on the test.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees.
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Andy Green, the opinion editor, has taken the "know a little bit about everything" approach in his time at The Sun. He was the city/state editor before coming to the editorial board, and prior to that he covered the State House and Baltimore County government.

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