Testing Across Time

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Over the century, students have been faced with various forms of assessments. What follows is a sampling of questions; wording and punctuation are as they appeared to test-takers.

1904 College Entrance Examination Board Test

Test-takers were assigned to write a two-page essay on one of the four statements listed below. The test did not identify the works of literature.

  1. Describe the character of Mr. Burchell, and compare or contrast him with Dr. Primrose. How far does he influence the course of events in the story?
  2. Locksley shoots for the prize.
  3. The elements of greatness in Shylock's character.
  4. Describe, from the point at which the Albatross "begins to be avenged", the events that precede the Mariner's being left "alone, on the wide, wide sea".

1922 8th grade civics, language, and grammar exam given in the territory of Alaska

  1. Is a boy or girl who has finished the eighth grade any better prepared to be a good citizen than one who has dropped out of school before he or she reaches the eighth grade? Why?
  2. Write a letter to Gibson and Company, 2301 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, ordering a book that you know they publish but the exact title of which you cannot recall. Describe the book so accurately that the publishers will know at once what you refer to and will send it without delay.

1921-23 geography, hygiene, and elementary science section of the Stanford Achievement Test

  1. A sweet-smelling flower is the

    daisy poppy rose

  2. Soap is made from

    fats lemons sugars

  3. Bacon comes from the

    cow hogs sheep

  4. Planes are used chiefly by

    barbers blacksmiths carpenters

1937 Progressive Achievement Tests, elementary battery for 4th, 5th, and 6th graders

Bob paid $2.25 for a new tire, 75 cents for a seat, and 50 cents for paint. He had $4.00 to repair his bicycle. How much did he have left?

1979 Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, 7th grade science

To what does a hypothesis most closely compare?

1. A statement of a problem

2. A procedure for solving a problem

3. A statement of a known fact

4. A possible explanation of something

1989 Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, 4th Edition, 1st and 2nd grades

Find the picture of someone who most probably comes from another country.

1994 Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, 5th grade science

Test-takers were instructed to create a saline solution and asked to perform several experiments with it. Then, they were told to form groups of four students and do the following.

Step A Working with your group, pour one half of your fresh-water sample into an empty cup and an equal amount of your salt-water sample into an empty cup. Mix the two water samples together in a third cup and test the mixture with your hydrometer. Record your observations and measurements below.

Step B Did your investigation cause you to accept or reject the prediction you made? Explain why, using evidence from your investigation.

Vol. 18, Issue 40, Pages 21-27

Published in Print: June 16, 1999, as Testing Across Time
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