Trinity College in the University of Cambridge.
Trinity College in the University of Cambridge.

Insane uni entrance exam stumps internet

THEY don't make university students like they used to.

A 124-year-old entrance examination for a prestigious English college has gone viral online, with some arguing the extremely challenging questions are "proof that we are being dumbed down to a frightening extent".

Oxford history professor William Whyte shared a photo of the 1895 entrance exam for Cambridge's Trinity College on Twitter yesterday. The 12 questions are on English history from 1485 to 1815, with applicants advised that "not more than eight questions are to be attempted by any candidate".

 

 

Here are the questions:

1. Give you estimate of the foreign policy of Henry the Eighth before 1520.

2. How did the doings of the reforming party under Edward the Sixth facilitate a return to Catholicism under Queen Mary?

3. Did the execution of Mary Queen of Scots increase or diminish the difficulties of Elizabeth's position?

4. How did the policy of James the First change for the worse after the death of Robert Cecil?

5. How did the acceptance by the English Parliament of the Solemn League and Covenant affect the subsequent progress of the war between the Parliament and the King?

6. Discuss the good and the bad features of the government of England under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell.

7. Illustrate the political importance of the Protestant Dissenters in the reigns of Charles the Second and James the Second.

8. On what matters of practical policy did the Whigs and the Tories differ most markedly in the later years of William the Third?

9. Was there any utility to England in Walpole's jealousy of rivals?

10. How did the elder Pitt differ in political opinions from Newcastle or Rockingham and their followers?

11. How did the general election of 1784 make the House of Commons a less unpopular institution than it had been?

12. In what respects was the Spanish Peninsula more advantageous ground for an attack by Great Britain on Napoleon's power than any other part of Europe?

 

An 1895 entrance examination to Trinity College. Picture: William Whyte/Twitter
An 1895 entrance examination to Trinity College. Picture: William Whyte/Twitter

 

Many doubted whether they would be able to answer even one of the questions.

"Note that this is not the final exam for a college course in English history. It's part of the entrance examination," one person wrote, with another adding, "It looks like you'd already need a degree in history to answer it."

One person said, "Proof that we are being dumbed down to a frightening extent. Our high-school grads don't know who's the Vice President of the US and who Jean Chretien was, now look at the entrance exam for Cambridge in 1895."

 

 

The format of the questions "thoroughly debunks the idea that secondary history education used to be about 'dates and battles' at the expense of interpretation", another noted.

Psychology professor Geoffrey Miller wrote, "College admissions, 1895: tell us about your nation's history. College admissions, 2019: tell us about your personal struggles."

Given the current Brexit chaos, many made the same point. "Most relevant question for today's UK?" one person wrote. "Number 11."

 

frank.chung@news.com.au