Kathryn Fenner, knowing my weakness for taking poli sci tests and giving them to my readers, shared this Slate item about the civics portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).t
Slate shared these 10 sample questions:
1. Which activity is an example of civil society rather than an example of government?
- The sanitation department picks up Town X’s garbage every Monday morning.
- The School Board of Town X decides on its yearly budget.
- A builder in Town X asks the planning board to approve his plans for a housing development.
- The places of worship in Town X join together to provide food and shelter for the homeless.
2. A military government in Country X is taking away the political rights of a particular group in the country. What impact would this most likely have on the United States?
- An increase in inflation in the United States
- An increase in immigration from Country X to the United States
- A decrease in United States import tariffs
- A decrease in the number of cases brought before the Supreme Court
3. The United States and Japan disagree most about the
- growing power of the Japanese military
- openness of Japanese markets to American products
- need to give aid to underdeveloped countries
- number of Japanese who can immigrate to the United States
4. Which of the following has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court?
- Requiring students in public schools to recite prayers
- Requiring journalists to reveal the names of people who provide information for news stories
- Allowing citizens to sue the federal government
- Allowing states to require that children be vaccinated against diseases
5. Which of the following is an example of people using power without having the right to do so?
- The owner of a newspaper prints her own opinions in the newspaper.
- A governor vetoes a bill passed by the state legislature.
- A group of people against nuclear power march outside a nuclear power plant.
- A police officer arrests someone because the person looks suspicious.
6. The process for amending the United States Constitution is described in Article V of the Constitution. According to Article V, both Congress and the states must participate in the amendment process. This requirement reflects which of the following ideas about the distribution of power in America?
- Separation of powers among the three branches of government
- Separation of church and state
- The importance of local government control
- The importance of federalism
7. Which of the following is a true statement about the United States Constitution?
- It created a democratic socialist state.
- It established a parliamentary government like that in Great Britain.
- It proclaimed that the government was based upon the consent of the people.
- It allowed a totalitarian government to function.
8. What is one responsibility that modern Presidents have that was not described in the Constitution?
- Commanding the armed forces
- Granting pardons
- Appointing Supreme Court justices
- Proposing an annual budget to Congress
9. Sometimes the common good conflicts with individual rights. Which of the following is an example of this?
- A person is put in jail because she is guilty of a violent crime.
- A person must move out of his house so that a highway can be built.
- Schools are closed because of icy roads.
- A community organizes to clean up a vacant lot.
10. Near the end of an election campaign, a poll shows that an issue that no candidate has mentioned is of great concern to voters. What is most likely to happen?
- The election will be postponed.
- Newspapers will not report the results of the poll.
- Candidates will start talking about the issue.
- Some candidates will drop out of the race.
Get yourselves a scratch sheet, and jot down your answers.
I did, and, ahem, I got them all right. Which of course made me particularly eager to share it with you. I was afraid I might not, because I thought maybe the test would cover very specific things from the school curriculum, and it’s been a long time since I was in the 8th grade.
But it was the best sort of test, one that tests whether you know how our society works, rather than testing rote memorization. The sort that — if not for, you know, constitutional questions — ought everyone ought to be required to pass before voting. Think how much better governed we would be if voters actually understood what was going on…
All done? You can find the answers here. How did you do?