1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

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1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Liz » 01 Sep 2008 04:24

You may have heard about there being entrance exams for some Victorian professions including the artillery and the Indian Civil Service. Ever wondered what those exams might be like? Well, I've recently stumbled across a copy of the actual exams you had to pass to get into the public service (clerical division) in Victoria, Australia. There are four exams in all. Here's the first, I will post the rest when time permits.

PUBLIC SERVICE EXAMINATION (CLERICAL DIVISION)
December 21, 1889.
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GEOGRAPHY
[Marks allotted, 400]
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Time allowed: from 11a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
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1. Describe the different kinds of clouds, and say what they severally indicate.

2. To what various movements are the waters of the ocean subject? Show in each case the cause of these movements.

3. What are springs, and how caused? Explain what becomes of them. Why does water rise in a well? Explain your answer by diagrams.

4. The climate of a city in the British Isles and a city in Siberia would show a difference. Explain the nature of this difference and account for it.

5. Draw a map of the coast-line of Australia from Cape Leeuwin northward to the eastern limit of the Gulf of Carpentaria (Cape York), marking on it the following places:-
Inlets - Cambridge Bay, Freycinet Harbour, Geographs Bay, Port Darwin, Port Essington, Shark Bay.
Towns - Palmerston, Perth.
Islands - Dirk Hartog, Groote Eylandt, Melville Island.
Rivers - Gascoyne, Fitzroy, Flinders, Swan.

6. What and where are the following? State their exact geographic position, and name some circumstance of interest pertaining to each:-
Aberdeen, Algiers, Dresden, Dunedin, Marsala, Mildura, Nagasaki, Shannon, Yarmouth.

----
By Authority: Robt. S Brain, Government Printer, Melbourne.
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Liz » 01 Sep 2008 04:38

And here's the 2nd instalment of four...

PUBLIC SERVICE EXAMINATION (CLERICAL DIVISION)
December 21, 1889.
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ENGLISH
[Marks allotted, 300]
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Time allowed: from 2 to 3 p.m.
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Any system of parsing or analysis may be adopted but the more complete parsing and the more minute analysis will receive higher marks.
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1. Parse fully the words in italics in the following passage:-

At break of day as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air
Exclesior!
A traveller, by his faithful hound
Half buried in the snow was found,
Still grasped in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device
Excelsior!

2. Analyse the following:-

(a) The shades of night were failing fast
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth who bore mid snow and ice
A banner with the strange device
Excelsior!

(b) Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith
And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him

(c) Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember,
Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand.

(d) In Australia the South African capeweed, a most pugnacious composite, has rendered vast areas of sheep-walk unfit for grazing.

3. Give the derivation of the following words:-

barometer
compact
divorce
doom
deviate
electric
embellish
grammar
intrude
Lancaster
misanthrope
Mont Blanc
nihilist
orator
repair
postpone
rectify
scatheless
torrid
wrangler.

----
By Authority: Robt. S Brain, Government Printer, Melbourne.
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Mark » 01 Sep 2008 11:00

Well I have just had a quick look at the questions and think I would have failed the exams!

Interesting, I would like to see what sort of exams the Army or Navy had during the Victorian period too for promotion or trades etc. if anyone has ever seen any.

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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Liz » 05 Sep 2008 03:34

Yes, I'd have failed too, especially taking into account the penultimate instalment: handwriting. You might think this is odd thing to test people on. Surely you would evaluate candidates' handwriting from their answers to other exams? That's what I thought, until I realised that:

(1) Copying was almost certainly an important part of the job. Carbon paper was definitely available: it was invented in 1806 and was making one of the men who claimed to have invented it a tidy profit in London by 1820. However, it was probably still quite expensive.

(2) Dip pens were still in wide use. Pens that could carry their own ink supply and deliver a smooth flow of ink weren't invented until the 1870s. Until these were in wide use, you had dip your pen in ink regularly as you wrote and pens tended to deliver too much ink (blots) or none at all (skips).

You may also think the choice of text is odd, and I'd have to agree with you here. It relates to Edward I of England and events of the late 1200s. Perhaps it was a personal whim of the examiner/s? Or an early attempt at propaganda? Anyway, here 'tis.

PUBLIC SERVICE EXAMINATION (CLERICAL DIVISION)
December 21, 1889.
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HANDWRITING
[Marks allotted, 200]
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Time allowed: from 12.30 to 12.45 p.m.
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Candidates will be allowed five minutes to read the passage through, during which time no writing will be permitted; they will then be allowed ten minutes for writing it.

Marks will be assigned for–
1. Clearness (or legibility),
2. Regularity.
3. Simplicity,
4. Moderate size,
5. Rapidity. This will be tested by the amount done in the time.

----------

Write out the following passage:-

Edward’s passionate desire was to be a model of the fashionable chivalry of his day. He had been famous from his very youth as a consummate general; Earl Simon had admired the skill of his advance at Evesham, and in his Welsh campaign he had shown a tenacity and force of will which wrested victory out of the midst of defeat. He could head a furious charge of horse at Lewes, or organize a commissariat which enabled him to move army after army across the harried Lowlands. In his old age he was quick to discover the value of the English archery, and to employ it as a means of victory at Falkirk. But his fame as a general seemed a small thing to Edward when compared with his fame as a knight. He shared to the full his people’s love of hard fighting. His frame, indeed, was that of a born soldier—tall, deep-chested, long of limb, capable alike of endurance or action. When he encountered Adam Gurdon, a knight of gigantic size and renowned prowess, after Evesham he forced him singlehanded to beg for mercy. At the opening of his reign he saved his life by sheer fighting in a tournament at Challon. It was this love of adventure which lent itself to the frivolous unreality of the new chivalry, and at his “Round Table of Kenilworth” a hundred lords and ladies, clad all in silk, renewed the faded glories of Arthur’s Court.

----
By Authority: Robt. S Brain, Government Printer, Melbourne.
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby jersey » 26 Oct 2009 03:31

I would think that I would have had no difficulty in passing this exam. School subjects never changed much until probably the 1970's. Prior to this English/Geography/History and writing was paramount. Don't forget that even until the early 1920's writing was the main form of committing infomation to paper and a good writing hand was essential. If you have the time and the access look at some of the early British birth, death and marriage records. Some of that handwriting was absolutely immaculate and also remember that this was fairly high speed writing as the scribe had a lot to get through. Also there were no subjects like computer learning (no computers). The whole concept of teaching then was different to what is now accepted.
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby ED, in Los Angeles » 26 Oct 2009 04:17

This is really easy and looks to be equivelent to a second or third year American High School exam, for 15/16/17 year olds.
The words in the poem are easy to define (parse), but the "classic" style of writing would be difficult for many today
to understand.

Dip pens with metal points, (nibs), were still in use at this time...but so were pencils! I wonder which was required for the
writing/copy exam?
Pencils were probably most used in real life settings...official documents, ink.

I actually would have trouble with the Austrailia coast line map. But a coast line map of California, no problem.

EDIT; I just looked up the history of pencils. They have been in use since the 17th century. America did not
produce pencils until 1812...the same year we went to war with Britain. We used to get them from you guys!!
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby jersey » 27 Oct 2009 06:46

Horses for courses Ed. I wouldnt have any trouble with an Aussie map (being one) but the California one - no hope, got a rough idea thats all
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Liz » 28 Oct 2009 07:56

Alas, when forced to draw, my stick figures have been known to reduce small children to laughter :shock:. I would normally defer to Lonely Planet et ille on matters such as the exact geographic position and points of interest in places like Yarmouth. And while I could guess at the derivation of many of the words listed, it's been a while since I had to mumble my way through a full Latin mass.

But to justify my continuing place in this forum, may I point out that have been complimented on a number of occasions about my command of (a) Anglo-Saxon English and (b) various weapons analagous to those used in the Victorian era. Shall I send my seconds to wait upon yours? I can assure you duels were still happening in the Victorian era despite having been outlawed years earlier... 8)

PS. Will post the maths exam when my scanner is in a cooperative mood.
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Liz » 11 Jul 2014 03:42

I know you have all been waiting for this. Here is the maths instalment.
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Victorian public service entrance examinations - mathematics exam
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Re: 1889 public service entrance exams in Victoria Australia

Postby Mark » 11 Jul 2014 09:24

Thanks for the update, Liz! Good to see you back :)

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