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I took a fascination to Cornell's history as soon as I arrived there. After reading, "The History of Cornell," I chose to take the class on Cornell's history to satisfy one of my Freshman requirements. There I came across this entrance exam, which Cornell University used for the 1878-1879 school year. This is from the Cornell University Register and Catalogue 1878-79, (Ithaca, 1879).


  1. Describe the systems of mountain chains by which the surface of the earth is traversed.
  2. Describe the table-lands of Asia.
  3. Describe the Great Northern Plain of Europe.
  4. What is the average depth of oceans?
  5. Name the principal ocean currents.
  6. Bound Holland; Turkey in Europe; Switzerland.
  7. Bound Beloochistan; China Proper; Arabia.
  8. Bound Idaho; Missouri; Maryland.
  9. Bound Bolivia; Uraguay; The Argentine Republic.
  10. Over what waters would one sail from Philadelphia to Crimea.
  11. Over what waters would one sail from Bombay to Lyons?
  12. Over what waters would one sail from Yokohama to Paris?
  13. What countries would one pass on the right in coasting from Honduras to Alaska?
  14. What countries would one pass on the left in coasting from Calcutta to Behring's Straits?
  15. Name the countries of Africa.
  16. Name the rivers of Spain, of France, of Germany, of Italy.
  17. Over what countries would a straight line from Pekin to Madrid pass?
  18. What productions of Africa form articles of commerce with the United States?
  19. How could one go by water from Montevideo to Pittsburgh?


  1. Explain the use of either and or, neither and nor, each, both, whither and whether, whence and thence.
  2. Mention the gutturals, dentals, and labials of the English alphabet.
  3. What is meant by "parts of speech"?
  4. State the use or function of each of the parts of speech.
  5. When is a noun said to be in the objective case?
  6. Give four examples of irregular comparison in adjectives.
  7. How are reflexive pronouns formed?
  8. Why are some pronouns called relative?
  9. Is an objective case ever used after intransitive verbs?
  10. Define inflection, intransitive, finite, mood, participle, orthography, diminutive, orthoŽpy, exception.
  11. Name some adverbs of negation; of cause and effect.
  12. In what ways may the grammatical subject be enlarged?
  13. When is a noun or an adjective used predicatively?
  14. Give a definition of the two "parts of speech" required to form a sentence.
  15. Change into the singular number the entire subject and the verb in the sentence: Those men are building houses.
  16. When is e mute omitted at the end of a word, and when is it retained, a syllable being added?
  17. State some of the uses of it.
  18. State the grammatical relation and etymology of each word in the following sentence: Short his career, but ably run.
  19. What is the objective or factitive predicate?
  20. Write out correctly the following sentences:
    1. One fine afternoon everybody was on deck amusing themselves as they can.
    2. Whom but he was true to me.
    3. Lord Macaulay has been bolder than his predecessors; he has shrank from no conclusion.
    4. Which rule, if it had been observed, a neighboring prince would have wanted a great deal of that incense which has been offered up to him.
    5. Their chairs did not touch; they were placed one on either of the four sides of the table, leaving the fourth vacant.
    6. Man could now travel further in an hour than he had previously in a day.
    7. Six month's interest are due.
    8. He is a worthy representative of the great principles on whom Republicanism has always and must stand.
    9. Nothing need to be said so firmly and nothing oftener than this.
    10. How will we know which is the greatest of the two?
  21. Give an example of the formation of the past tense from the present, by a change (a) of vowel; (b) of termination; (c) by no change.
  22. Write a sentence containing an adjective clause, drawing a line under the clause.
  23. Write an interrogative sentence, and parse it.
  24. Write a sentence in which the verb has a direct and an indirect object, stating which is the direct and which the indirect.


  1. If the opposite sides of a quadrilateral be equal each to each, the equal sides are parallel, and the figure is a parallelogram.
  2. To draw a common tangent to two given circles; and demonstrate.
  3. Two triangles are similar, if their homologous sides be proportional.
  4. The 4 bisectors of the angles of any quadrilateral form in general a second quadrilateral whose opposite angles are supplementary.
  5. The surface [or the perimeter] of a regular inscribed polygon.