Exams Circa 1860

Have you ever wondered what Harvard exams were like centuries ago? Though one might expect that these exams have been lost to the ages, they have, in fact, been collected in the depths of Pusey Library. In order to uncover the sort of questions Harvard students had to answer as they sat for exams in the past, this Flyby correspondent ventured into the Harvard University Archives, looked through exams dating back to around 150 years ago, and compiled some of the more interesting questions below.Let’s see how you would do if you were at Harvard back then:

Question One: Know your history (1858)

"Name the Sovereigns of England from William the Conqueror to Victoria, with the date of each accession, the right of each Sovereign to the Crown, and his relationship to his immediate predecessor. Point out the Several Lines and Houses."

Question Two: Be a student of rhetoric (1860)

"Distinguish the Unnatural and the Improbably: Matters of Fact and Matters of Opinion."

Question Three: The Classics are everything (1860)

"Translate into LatinIgnorance of future evils is more useful than knowledge [of them]."

Question Four: You might have to steer a ship (1860)

"Draw the triangle of Middle Latitude Sailing, and give the names of the sides and angles."

Question Five: Math (1860)

"What is the square root of 104.8576?"

Question Six: Ancient Ec10 (1860)

"What is the laissez-faire principle, and what are the limitations of it? Show that these exceptions only confirm the rule."

Want to see more questions from decades past? Old exams can be viewed in the Harvard University Archives. Details on how to access these exams are found here.

Questions courtesy of the Harvard University Archives, HUC 7000.28 Box 1.


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