Individual Training in Our Colleges

By Clarence F. Birdseye | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
OUR EARLIER COLLEGES: THEIR EXAMINATIONS -- MARKING SYSTEMS -- HOURS -- VACATIONS AND COMMENCEMENTS

IN the earlier colleges there were examinations at the end of each term and of every year, and usually at the end of each year on all the preceding work. Seniors were examined at the end of the course upon all their four years' work. At first this was a public examination, wherein they must be ready to answer questions by any one, whether connected with the college or not, on any of their four years' studies.1

Early examinations public.

"Those who then stood candidates to be graduates were to attend in the Hall for certain hours on Mondays and on Tuesdays, three weeks together towards the middle of June, which were called weeks of visitation; so that all comers that pleased might examine their skill in the languages and sciences, which they now pretended unto; and usually some or other of the overseers of the college would on purpose visit them, while they were thus doing what they called, sitting of solstices."2 In 1650 the overseers of Harvard first ordered a visitation.

Sitting of solstices.

"Between the 10th of June, and the Commencement,3 from nine o'clock to eleven in the forenoon, and from one to three in the afternoon of the second and third days of the week, all scholars of two years' standing shall sit in the Hall to be examined by all comers in the Latin, Greek and Hebrew tongues, and in Rhetoric, Logic and Physics; and they that expect to proceed Batchelors that year to be examined of their sufficiency according to the laws of the College; and such as expect to proceed Master of Arts to exhibit their synopsis of acts required by the laws of the college."

____________________
1
This custom of turning the seniors over to outsiders for a general examination continued in the colleges for many generations. The examination at the end of senior year upon all the studies of the course was still the rule in Williams in 1850 ( Porter, 23).
2
Mather, Magnalia, B. IV, 127, 128, quoted in Peirce, Appendix, 42.
3
Then the last Tuesday in July.

-56-

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