Take the civics quiz

Doug Ross brings to my attention this rather well-crafted test that measures how well the taker understands the foundations of our society and how it works. He adds his own facetious suggestion in passing it on:

Maybe you could use this civics test (mentioned on NRO online) as a
way to qualify posters to your blog:

Doug also shared his score with me, but I’ll leave it up to him as to whether he shares it with you. Here’s how I made out:

You answered 56 out of 60 correctly — 93.33 %

Average score for this quiz during September: 74.5%
Average score since September 18, 2007: 74.5%

I was reasonably happy with that, because a number of questions in the last third or so of the test dealt with economics, and I was making some guesses on those, educated and otherwise. This test will lull you. The first 10 or 20 or so are so easy as to make you think you’re going to get a perfect score, but then it gets trickier.

I’m not sure whether the questions are the same for each taker, but on the version I took, I missed questions 19, 27, 43 and 58. All of them were questions I was unsure of, so it’s not like I thought I knew something that wasn’t so.

As for Doug’s suggestion — it’s tempting. Of course, it’s also tempting to require such a test before people are allowed to vote. And as long as we’re fantasizing, I’d want to present it to people just as it was presented to me — as a real test, out of the blue, of what I just plain know after 50-plus years in this country, not something you could cram for.

But we know that such things have been abused. Still, when you reflect how very little all too many people know going into voting booths, it’s discouraging.

I’d be curious to know how y’all do, if you take the time to take the test. And please play fair — give us your first, unrehearsed score — not your "do-over."

12 thoughts on “Take the civics quiz

  1. Doug Ross

    I fully admit to scoring a 46. Most of my errors were related to history and/or philosophers (had they included an Ayn Rand question, I would have NAILED it!)
    I can either blame age, ignorance, or a public school education.

  2. Brad Warthen

    In the interest of full disclosure, here are the four questions I missed:

    19)   In The Republic, Plato points to the desirability of:
    27)   Which statement is a common argument against the claim that “man cannot know things”?
    43)   “Balance of power” refers to:
    58)   What is a major effect of a purchase of bonds by the Federal Reserve?
  3. Herb Brasher

    Well, I got 49 right, so I don’t feel too bad for somebody who’s spent most of his life in Bible and theology.

  4. Kiki

    85%. 5 of the 9 questions I missed were economics questions, don’t tell Bentley. (I missed #27 too. What is that about?)

  5. bud

    I got 53 out of 60 correct. Honesty compels me to admit that most of the ones that I could narrow down to 2 or 3 I got right. I thought the test war pretty tough. Brad’s always boasted that he tests well. I guess this confirms it. Congrats to Brad.

  6. Brad Warthen

    Yes, I test well, but I’m not sure it’s a boast to say that. In a way, it’s a weakness — at least it was when it came to school.
    My mind is wired to the test — the finite challenge. Let me take a deep breath and plunge in and come out the other side with the prize in my hand, and I’m your man. But ask me to swim on and on at a steady pace without slacking, and I’m liable to struggle. (Actually, literally — I can streak across a pool once but have trouble swimming laps.)
    In school, I was terrible at keeping up with daily work. I tended to flunk pop quizes that checked to see whether I’d done the previous night’s reading, but by the time of the big test, the material had been covered so much during class time that I was able to ace the BIG test without any particular effort. Thus I coasted through high school with Bs and Cs. Not exactly admirable.
    So imagine my horror when I realized that REAL LIFE as a grownup requires SHOWING UP AND DOING THE JOB EVERY DAY. But gradually I embraced that reality, and I’m reasonably proud of the way I’ve managed to hold a job for all these years, despite my nature. I think it’s called “growing up.”
    But still, I’m terrible about the small, daily tasks that must be done, and which most people do without thinking. For instance, one could say that my main task each day, as editor of the editorial page, is to edit and move on the editorial page copy. Makes sense, right? But frequently (some might say daily), I have to be REMINDED to do that, because I’m wrapped up in some new challenge that attracts my attention like a shiny toy — such as, say, blogging, which has next to nothing to do with my job as far as my colleagues are concerned.
    And I’m not boasting about that.

  7. Herb Brasher

    Does anyone remember back to the days when they actually taught a high-school civics course? They cut it out a year before I got to it, so I took one in economics instead, but you’d never have known it from this test.

  8. Brad Warthen

    We had something called “American Problems,” which even in those days struck me as having a certain editorial slant in the very title of the course.
    Actually, I went to three high schools in three states. I don’t know what they called it in South Carolina, because I was only there in the 9th grade, and as I recall, it was a senior course in Florida and Hawaii. I was in Tampa 10th and 11th grades, and West Honolulu (overlooking Pearl Harbor) in the 12th.
    I forget which was which, but one place called it “American Problems,” and the other called it “Problems in American Democracy.”

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