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TexasDude's avatar

Could you pass the US Naval Academy entrance exam from 1931? (Questions inside)

Asked by TexasDude (25244points) September 5th, 2010

I recently bought a pristine antique testing booklet for admission into the United States Naval Academy, dated 1931. This book would have been used to test high school graduates’ knowledge, grammar, mathematical, and reasoning skills before being considered for admission into the Academy.

Looking over the questions, I have noticed one peculiar thing:

They are really f*$%ing hard!

So what about you, Fluther? Can you answer any of these questions using only what high schoolers in 1931 would have available to them: your noggin?

Let’s find out….


1) Find the highest common factor of
6y^2 + 33y – 63 and 2y^3 + 11y^2 – y – 30

2) Divide 23 into two parts such that the first is one less than three times the second.

3) A bar of iron 3 meters long will expand how many millimeters in length when raised in temperature from the melting point of ice to the boiling point of water? (Coefficient of linear expansion of iron is 0.000011 per degree centigrade).


1) Contrast the policies of Marius and Sulla.

2) Explain the significance of the Licinian Laws.

3) Explain the provisions of the “Tariff of Abominations” of 1825, and the Wilson Tariff Act of 1894.

4) Discuss Hamilton’s financial measures.

Grammar, Composition, and Rhetoric

1) In a paragraph, describe the joy of new brooms.

2) Make all necessary corrections to the following sentences:

When one handles gasoline, they must be careful, due to the danger of a possible explosion.

Most all the excitement was due to the accident.

The stranger whom John followed was the man whom I believe robbed the bank.

3) Name the titles of four poems by Milton (or alternatively, Browning) and explain the central idea and rhetorical devices of each of them.

These are some questions I randomly selected. Most of them are just as difficult, if not more. Can you answer any of them? I’ll post more, if anyone wants.

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24 Answers

Ben_Dover's avatar

The question regarding the joy of new brooms would have gotten me thrown out of the testing facility when I couldn’t control my laughter.

TexasDude's avatar

@Ben_Dover, I know. This was my face when I saw that question.

SuperMouse's avatar

I could do the math and the grammar stuff. The history – no way. As others have mentioned, the broom question would leave me perplexed as I have never in my life given one second’s thought to the joy of a new broom.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I’m only a genius and I could not pass that exam. The math is no problem and neither is the grammar and composition.
The History and Literature questions are way beyond my ability.

TexasDude's avatar

@SuperMouse, I did okay on the history stuff, but then again I’m a junior history major at one of the toughest colleges in the south… not a high schooler from the 30’s. The math stuff rocked my face off…. Out of curiosity, can you solve any of the math problems I posted?

the new brooms thing is totally weird… there are a few other essay topics that totally come out of left field.

@Dr_Lawrence the grammar stuff isn’t too bad. I posted a few of the easier ones. A lot of the lit questions are so completely obscure that I don’t know how anyone couldn’t answer them without a primary source.

It’s interesting to compare this test to the modern ACT or SAT or even GRE or LSAT. It’s amazing how educational priorities change so much over the course of 70+ years.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Damn. The new broom thing is the only one I could have done with any ease, and convinced all of you to experience it, too!

TexasDude's avatar

The actual wording of the new broom question was “in a page, describe the joy of new brooms.”

I edited it to paragraph to see if anyone would try and tackle it… In fact, I think I’ll have a go…

Nay, when I find myself pondering the conundrums and quandaries of this mortal coil that the Lord, our God hath wrought, I often find myself puzzling over the simplest of joys- the remarkable pleasures that come when one walks home from the corner general market with a bushel of the most splendidly crafted brooms direct from only the most talented of broom-makers! The earthy, fibrous tendrils of the broom sweeps themselves are most delightful to the touch, and the fine length of broomstick shaft, with its warm, woody texture, is most titillating to one’s baser sensibilities! Oh! How I relish in the joy of new brooms, and how I desire no one thing more than to sweep the hallowed halls of the United States Naval Academy! That lofty institution that diligently trains the minds and bodies of our young men to go forth and sweep away from the earth the dusty stains of our enemies!

Pshew… Think I passed?

JilltheTooth's avatar

I need a cold shower. You passed.

TexasDude's avatar

@JilltheTooth if this history thing doesn’t work out, I’ll write historical, educationally-themed erotica for nerds.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard : Yes!..pant..pant..Yes! nerd porn I love it!

SuperMouse's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I could solve the first math problem fairly easily. I am pretty sure that I could figure the other two out but it would take some time. I am pretty proficient at math but it has been a lllloooonnnnggg time since I had to figure something like that out!

TexasDude's avatar

@JilltheTooth, haha! Alright then…

@SuperMouse, I think I probably could too if I was in a math class right now. My brain has to be warmed up and brought into math mode for me to be able to solve complex math equations. It’s a hard mode for me to get into because I loathe math in nearly all of its forms (even though I’m pretty good at geometry… I guess it’s the artist/engineer in me)

jaytkay's avatar

Question: divide 23 into two parts such that the first is one less than three times the second.

Answer: 17 + 6 = 23

Notes (when I was in high school I could have done this more neatly:
x + (3x – 1) = 23
x+3x – 1 + 1 = 23 + 1
x+ 3x = 24
4x = 24
x = 6
6+17 = 23
17 is one less than three times 6

TexasDude's avatar

@jaytkay, nicely done. It doesn’t look so hard once you interpret the wording and get it into algebraic form. Thanks for playing along!

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard After that exercise in creative writing, you would have been accepted into the navy, handed a mop and pail and been ordered to swab the deck.

Congratulations, swabbie!

TexasDude's avatar

@Ben_Dover, apparently, during World War Two, US submariners would hoist a broom over the top of their boats to signal that they had “swept clean” an area of enemy activity.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Indeed. the broom was hoisted by the submarine’s maintenance man. It was his broom.

TexasDude's avatar

@Ben_Dover, nice. Didn’t know that.

wilma's avatar

The only question I could have answered was the one about new brooms, but my grammar would not have been correct.
I just love a new broom!

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard that was so good!

TexasDude's avatar

@wilma, haha! Thank you!

BonusQuestion's avatar

1) Find the highest common factor of
6y^2 + 33y – 63 and 2y^3 + 11y^2 – y – 30

You can factor the first polynomial as follows:

You can easily check that -7 is a root of 6y^2 + 33y – 63 so it should have a factor of y+7 and from there you can factorize it. 6y^2 + 33y – 63 = 3 (2y^2+11y-21) = 3(y+7) (2y-3)

You can easily check that -7 is not a root of the second polynomial but 3/2 is a root of that polynomial so their common factor is 2y-3.

P.S. Another way to find their common factor is using long division.

TexasDude's avatar

@BonusQuestion, well shit. Good job!

Ron_C's avatar

Isn’t it amazing that a public school graduate, at that time, would be expected to answer those questions.

It just shows how deeply our school system has fallen.

TexasDude's avatar

@Ron_C, that’s kindof what I was hinting at/hoped someone would mention when I originally asked this question. Priorities, I guess. :-/

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