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Can You Pass the Test?

People preparing to be math teachers are facing new restrictions. For example, in addition to all of the hoops they jump through in a school of education, they now have to put together an extensive portfolio and pass multiple nationally-normed exams.

Plus, they need to demonstrate understanding of mathematics itself, though colleges differ on the amount of mathematics needed. In the "olde" days, all one had to do was take a certification exam.

M.B. (Pasco, WA) recently sent me a copy of the Board of Education's qualifying examination for the Washington Territory...May 1889. To be a credentialled teacher for all grades, you had to respond to questions in Orthography, Grammar, Reading, U.S. History, Educational Theory and Practice, School Law, Physiology and Hygiene, Geography, and of course, Arithmetic.

Take these ten questions for the Arithmetic Exam (no abacus or calculator allowed!):

  1. Define the fundamental principles of arithmetic and give an example of each.
  2. A farmer bought a wagon and paid for it with 4 loads of potatoes at 30 cents per bushel. The first load weighed 1876 3/4 pounds, the second 1982 5/8 pounds, the third 1689 1/2 pounds and fourth 1691 1/8 pounds--what did the wagon cost him?
  3. The dimensions of a bin of oats are 6 1/4 ft. x 9 1/2 ft. x 10 ft.--what is the difference in value between that and a bin of wheat of the same dimensions? The price of oats, 22 cents per bus., of wheat 55 cents per bus.
  4. Bought 1/3 of 25 1/3 yards of cloth for 1/5 of $177 1/2: What was the cost per yard?
  5. Define uniform scale, varying scale, greatest common divisor, least common multiple, and complex fractions. Give examples of each.
  6. If a business yield $700 net profits in 1 year and 8 months, in what time will the same business yield a profit of $1050?
  7. If 1/4 of 2/5 of 3/8 of A's salary is $200, how much of it does he save if he pay 12 1/2 per cent for rent, 1/7 of the remainder for clothing and 30 per cent of the remainder for board?
  8. Two equal partners own three tracts of agricultural land, which they wish to fence. A encloses in one field the south half of a section and the northwest quarter of the same section; B encloses the south half of a quarter section, and the northwest quarter of another section not adjacent. The price being $2.00 per rod. What per cent of the amount does A's fence cost?
  9. What is the cost of plastering the walls and ceiling of a cubical room containing 91125 cu. ft. at 30 cents per square feet?
  10. A capitalist invested $1000.00 in bonds quoted at $102 bearing 6 per cent interest, and $1200.00 in bonds quoted at 96 bearing 5 per cent interest. What is his per cent of income on each investment, and his total income from both?
Could you pass? I would not have...Thanks M.B. for the reality check!