During our first years using AO we didn't do exam weeks. After all, the kids narrated all their readings, we discussed things all the time, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what they were retaining. I have since come to see a lot of benefits to doing exam week.

  1. It shows me what I've let slide and where I need to be more diligent. (Nature Study, Artist and Composer, Map Work)
  2. The kids aren't always retaining as much as I'd hoped.
  3. It challenges them a lot more to retell what they learned early in the term, than just to narrate current readings.
  4. They give more weight to their readings knowing that an exam is coming later.
  5. I have a better record of what they learned.
  6. They look forward to it.
One thing I found interesting is that I have received completed exams wherein the child insists that they don't know anything about the topic I am questioning them on. But if I mention a few words about it, they can go on and on. OH that! I didn't know you meant that!

I am fairly new to exams and still learning how to phrase my questions, and what to try and draw out. The goal is to learn what they know, not put them on the spot with what they don't know. I don't want guesses. No multiple choice questions. I want them to own the stories they are reading. I want to know what they carry with them. These exams were better than the previous ones, and I would hope they continue to improve as they learn what to expect, and as I fine-tune areas of weakness. Theirs and mine.

Some of the questions I fielded from other AO moms, who generously posted them online. And others I wrote myself.

In that spirit, I am posting our most recent exams. In case another AO mom can use them.

AO Year 5, Term 1

US History:

In Ch 1 of Of Courage Undaunted Jefferson says, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its Republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” What do you think he meant?

What did Louis and Clark accomplish and why was it important?

Tell of some of the dangers or hardships that Lewis and Clark faced on the expedition and how they overcame these issues OR Tell of Sacajawea's character and give a supporting example from your reading.

Tell me all you know about the Louisiana Purchase. Why was it important? Who was President at the time?

Tell what you know about the Monroe Doctrine.

Who fought the war of 1812 and what was the reason for it?

World History:

Who was Napoleon? What do you know about him and his family? Tell of some of his military campaigns. What is significant about Waterloo?

Tell of the events and some results of the rebellions (France or Belgium) that changed the Congress of Vienna monarchies. OR Tell what you know of the "Drama of Greece" (Greek war for independence) OR Tell of the patriots in Italy OR Tell of the Reform Bill and the "Bloodless Revolution" in England


Answer one of the following 3 questions from Book of Marvels:

1. How did St. Bernards get their name? Why were they honored in this


2. Tell me about the city named The River of January. Where is it? What interesting thing is there?

3. Tell me all you know about the Maya’s of the Yucatan. What kind of civilization did they have? What is the Well of Death?

What do you know about the Grand Canyon (ch 4) OR the Panama Canal?
Describe a place you read about this term that you'd like to visit.

Explore the Holyland:

What 3 continents meet near Israel?

What shape is the country?

What are the Samaritan Hills? What biblical mountain will we find located there and what is its significance?

What is a kibbutz? What kind of things do families in a kibbutz share? Do you think you would like to live in a kibbutz?

What is unique about the Dead Sea? What would swimming in the Dead Sea be like?

Why do people make pilgrimages to Jerusalem?

Natural History & General Science:

1. Describe, with drawings, how the eye works and how it's protected.

2. What is the sun like? What useful things does it do for us?

3. Describe the journey of a drop of water.

4. Tell what happens to food before it goes into the stomach OR Describe how the heart works

Pick one of the animals from Wild Animals I Have Known and tell me about it’s life. What did you learn about this type of animal from the story of this particular animal?


Tell me all you know about the life of Sir Isaac Newton. Name the three most important things he accomplished. How did his faith impact his work?

Plutarchs Lives: What are the things you admire most about Brutus? What things do you not admire?

Read Act V Scene V from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, especially Antonius’ speech (“This was the noblest Roman of them all.”) Do you agree with Antonius? Should Brutus be called a hero?

Referring to this passage in particular: compare this somber scene to the last evening of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56). Both men knew they would soon be facing death. Are there any similarities in the stories? What are the greatest differences? Pay particular attention to the things they said.


1. Tell about your favorite scene or character from this term's Shakespeare play.

2. Describe the scene where young Arthur wins a sword (King Arthur).

3. Tell me about the life of one of the 3 following Greek mythological figures.

1. Cupid

2. Hercules

3. Minerva


Pick your favorite Kipling poem and tell me about the rhyme. Is it masculine or feminine? Does he use end rhyme? Internal Rhyme? Near rhymes, true rhymes or eye-rhymes? What is the rhyme scheme?

Explain the difference between masculine and feminine rhyme.

What is an eye-rhyme?


When the spring came I set about his serious education. After much pains on my behalf and many pains on his, he learned to go at the word in quest of our old yellow cow, that pastured at will on the unfenced prairie. (from Wild Animals I Have Known)

Picture Study:

What do you know about the life of John Singleton Copley?

AO Year 3 Term 3

1. Pick your favorite character from Jungle Book and tell me about them. Why do you like the character that you picked?
2. Lamb’s Shakespeare: Tell the story of Hamlet, or Much Ado About Nothing
3. Heroes: Tell how Theseus slew the Minotaur.

4. Secrets of the Woods: What was Meeko? Tell all you remember about him.

History and Geography
1. This Country of Ours: Tell of the founding of Rhode Island OR of Maine and New Hampshire.

2. Our Island Story: Tell the story of the 7 bishops and King James. Was disobeying the king the right thing to do? OR Tell what the Union Jack is and how it came to be.

3. CHOW: How did Protestants get their name? Why did Henry VIII break with the church of England?

4. Landing of the Pilgrims: Why did the Pilgrims come to the new world? Describe some of the hardships they encountered. Would you have liked to be a child of the Pilgrims? Why? What would have been the best and worst things about it?

5. Marco Polo: Where did Marco’s travels take him? What 2 things did he do that you thought were the most interesting?

Natural History and General Science

1. Story of Inventions: Tell what either Alexander Graham Bell OR Thomas Edison are best known for inventing. Tell all you know about their invention, how it works, and why it is important.

2. Name the constellations that you can remember and draw them as best you can.

3. Parables of Nature: Tell 2 of the stories below and what they mean.

1. Night and Day

2. Birds in the Nest

3. Imperfect Instruments

4. Nature Reader: What is a reptile? Name 2 reptiles.

Give the life history of a turtle or a toad.


Take a timed test that mom will give you.

(The formatting got a little screwy, but I can't seem to fix it. Hope it isn't too distracting)

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