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I wonder whether the questions on a calculus exam at university were easier or harder 100 years ago. Nowadays we have all these aids and different learning methods.

I would love to see an old exam.

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    $\begingroup$ This is not specifically a calculus exam, but rather a set of first year mathematics exams for students at Cambridge University from over 100 years ago. Some of them are on calculus: archive.org/details/papersetinmathtr00cambrich/page/n5/mode/2up $\endgroup$ – Robert Furber Oct 10 '20 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ That's nothing - you should see the contents of 4th-to-9th grade "Readers" , i.e. textbooks for English and reading comprehension, from the late 19th century in the USA. (sorry, I don't know any online links & my copies are in storage; might try gutenberg.org) $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Oct 12 '20 at 10:53
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It depends on what you call "calculus" exactly. A nice large sample of exam problems (of slightly older age 120-130 years ago) in Cambridge can be seen in the book by Whittaker and Watson, Course of Modern Analysis. The first edition was published in 1902 and the last in 1927.

In the end of each chapter it contains exam problems from previous years with indication where and in what year each problem was offered. The book is easily available, since it is still in print (and available on the Internet) and is widely used (not for exams, I suppose).

But you have to take into account that Cambridge was one of the top schools in the world at that time, and the level at an average US university could be lower.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also, in those years, only a minority of kids went to college at all. And for them, "Calc I" was not universally used as a filter for entry to their desired major, so there was no necessity of accommodating students in any way. The context was wildly different than now. $\endgroup$ – paul garrett Oct 27 '20 at 14:06

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