Friday, May 21, 2010

West Point Admission Test - 1867

The 1867 Guide to West Point and the U.S. Military Academy with Maps and Engravings contains a description of the admissions examination. I was impressed by its difficulty and I wonder how many of today's high school seniors could pass. The requirements in each area are summarized below:

1. Reading - Read with facility from any book, giving the proper intonation and pauses, and to write portions that are read aloud for that purpose, spelling the words, and punctuating the sentences properly.

2. Arithmetic - Demonstrate proficiency in the primary functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Be able to convert decimals into "vulgar" fractions such as 0.750 into its fractional equivalent 3/4.

3. English Grammar - Exhibit a familiarity with the nine parts of speech and the rules in relation thereto, and must be able to parse any ordinary sentence. Parsing a sentence means to break a sentence into parts, explaining the grammatical form, function, and interrelation of each part.

4. Descriptive Geography - Name, locate and describe the natural grand and political divisions of the earth, and be able to delineate any one of the States or Territories of the American Union, with its principal cities, rivers, lakes, seaports and mountains.

5. History - Name the periods of the discovery and settlement of the North American continent, of the rise and progress of the United States, and of the successive wars and political administration through which the country has passed.

These tests were administered via recitations at the blackboard in the presence of other classmates. No pressure here!

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