There are plenty of those "Harvard Entrance Exams from 1908" floating around the interwebs (every time I type that I wonder if people realize it's incorrect on purpose - a little hipster irony).
However, this 8th grade test from KENTUCKY from 1912 is legit. Seriously, if you haven't clicked the link you should go read the test first and then come back because all of the following isn't going to make much sense without reading the test.
The spelling test is a good challenge but I think most of us could figure out chandelier, circulate and synopsis. The math is challenging but fair - although the "cord of wood" calculation might get the better of most city-dwellers. Geography would be a great test for even the most talented map geeks, but again you really should be able to find Turkey, the Alps and the Andes on the map. Physiology is roughly in line with high school Biology that I recall but I would be interested in knowing what the was answer to "Name 5 rules to be observed in maintaining good health".
However, it's all down hill from there.
- Name 5 county officers and their duties????
- Copyright? Patent Right?
- Hey, the St. Lawrence River gets a mention!! Keep in mind this is a test for 8th graders in Kentucky. I would be curious to know the percent of our students who live, work and play in the St. Lawrence that could answer this question (who discovered the St. Lawrence) correctly.
- Sketch Peter Stuyvesant?
- Name the last battle and commander of each side in the major US wars?
- Describe the battle of Quebec??
Wow, that is a challenging test. If I were a college professor, I'd have fun with this. When kids walk in to my class at the beginning of the semester I'd hand them this test as a "Test of General Knowledge" so I could gauge how much I'd have to teach them in the upcoming 4 months. 93% of the kids would probably drop the class before the end of the day :)