Taking the SAT or ACT exam is a big milestone in the high school careers of many students. One of the most daunting portions of the exam is THE ESSAY.

For those who have taken the SAT recently, the following sample question may seem familiar:

Compare this to the 1915 Grammar and Composition Exam produced by the College Entrance Examination Board (below), the same organization which operates today’s SAT tests. In addition to first writing several short answers on grammatical issues, students were expected to write two essays: the first lasting an hour and 15 minutes, the second lasting 25 minutes.

Looking at the list of topics given in the longer essay question, it’s interesting to note how many of them require students to draw on general knowledge rather than personal feelings or viewpoints, as seems to be the case with the modern SAT.

Which exam do you think would be more difficult to pass?

Image Credit: University of Chicago Library