Could you gain a scholarship to the Huddersfield Technical College? The following scans are exam papers from 1893 enabling some students to gain scholarships in order to continue their education at the college. Despite a sea change in education over the last century, as an adult it’s interesting to note that potentially 14- and 15-year olds would be taking this kind of exam (some of which is pretty impossible for this blogger to answer)!
It’s also interesting to note the similarities and differences in the way subjects have been taught over time and the expectations of students. Whilst the Spelling, Algebra and French sections would be fairly familiar to the GCSE students of today, the Composition section shows essays were shorter in the 1890s, and Geography a lot more simplistic. ‘Parsing’ sentences in Grammar might be more familiar to A-Level or degree students in the 21st century. Trigonometry might be the first way to deal with triangles and theorums, and its unlikely most of the domestic economy questions would make it onto a modern syllabus. The vocational nature of the arithmetic is interesting too, with its focus on profit and commission. It goes someway to show how vital good mathematics was to sales and businessmen in the days before calculators did most of the work, when your livelihood depended on having the ability to calculate at your fingertips!
How much of this paper can you answer? We’d love to know which bits you found easy, difficult or impossible, or your opinions on this kind of paper. Have you done your GCSEs or A-Levels recently? How does this paper compare to what you faced in some of your exams?