How good are your civics? Can you pass the new citizenship test?

A friend of mine, who served on his community’s school board, has been on a tear for several years to get civics back into the American education system. But in his town, it was a losing battle.

It’s a battle that should be won, not only in my friend’s community but everywhere in the United States.

The proof pops up every so often in surveys people do of our schools’ students. One found that students could name the Three Stooges (there were more than three) but not the three branches of the U.S. governments. I tried that before a reporting class I taught but updated it to naming characters on South Park. More of my students could name the three branches of government than characters on South Park. And I had to find out who was on South Park – it’s a cartoon!

These were students studying to be journalists, and I would, and you should, expect them to know the workings of government. Especially since some day they will be explaining it to readers and viewers.

More recently, the Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a survey and found that only eight percent of high-school students knew that slavery was a main cause of the Civil War.

Richard Folk

Which brings us to Mr. Folk, introduced in my last post. I thought that Claudia must have had him as a teacher at Liberty Center High School. Claudia is my opponent who is beating me in our contest to name Biden’s Cabinet.

And sure enough, she had Mr. Folk for American History and Psychology. In Mr. Folk’s class, you learned a lot about civics and history. Or, if you goofed off, some recall how handy he was with a paddle.

Being the goody-goody that I was, I escaped the paddle and learned a lot about history, which has all blended in with the history books I have read before and after that class. But I do remember one instance from his class. He was telling about the Civil War, talking about the causes of it. States’ rights this, states’ rights that, and then he said, “It was all about slavery, and that’s all.”

Claudia is ahead 2-0, but there are 12 more picks for Biden to make. Lots of time for John to come back.

He must have been a student of military history as well. He made a claim, which I can’t prove, that the Japanese in World War II used bullets that were one tenth smaller than the bullets used by Americans. If the Japanese captured an American rifle, their bullets would fit into the American rifle’s bore. Not so if the Americans captured a Japanese rifle.

Besides history and civics classes, which I think were taught in junior hi or earlier in high school, there was “Problems in Democracy,” taught my senior year by Thomas Doughton. If you slept through civics, you could catch up here, or not graduate.

I don’t want this to sound like old-timers’ stories of walking uphill to and fro, barefooted, in three-foot drifts of snow to school where learning was pounded into us. Students still learn in our schools today. But they don’t learn what we don’t teach them. No civics and we create newly elected Senators who think the U.S. liberated Paris in World War II from socialism and communism.

My outlandish proposal, as most of mine are, is to have all elected officials take the test given to people trying to become citizens of the United States. If they can’t pass the test, we could either use Mr. Folk’s paddle on them, take them “out at dawn and (be) shot” or “drawn and quartered” as some dimwit lawyer said who had never heard of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Or, we could make they ineligible academically, put them on the bench until they could pass the test, given once every four to six years.

Could you pass the test? That might be our next charity contest. Who can get the most right in the newest citizenship test? It’s below with the rules for possible citizens.  

But we will make our own rules. Look at all 128 questions that could be thrown at any unsuspecting Somali, Eritrean, Guatemalan or any other person who has their own culture and doesn’t know diddly about why we have an Electoral College that overturns the popular vote and let’s losers stack the Supreme Court.

Madcapschemes rules: Answer all of them. I’ll grade. Person with the top score gets $100 for their favorite non-political charity.

If you are the kind of person who uses Google to complete your crossword puzzles, this may not be for you. Cheaters will not be allowed, and there is nothing I can do about it. But if I catch you, you will have to put that forbidden chewing gum on the blackboard, stick your nose in it and stand there until class is over. (What teacher did that? I can’t remember, but I can remember the student’s name, which will be withheld until he gets a presidential pardon in the next few weeks).

So let your honesty be your guide.

Here are the instructions for those seeking citizenship:

Listed below are the 128 civics questions. These questions cover important topics about American government and history.

To become a citizen of the United States, you must answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions. You must answer at least 12 questions (or 60%) correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test. 

* If you are 65 years old and have lived in the United States for 20 years, you have to answer 10 out of the starred 20 civics test questions. You must answer at least 6 out of 10 correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

The rules:

Answer all of them or you will have to repeat year 2020.

A: Principles of American Government
1. What is the form of government of the United States?

2. What is the supreme law of the land?*

3. Name one thing the U.S. Constitution does.

4. The U.S. Constitution starts with the words “We the People.” What does “We the People” mean?

5. How are changes made to the U.S. Constitution?

6. What does the Bill of Rights protect?

7. How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have?*

8. Why is the Declaration of Independence important?

9. What founding document said the American colonies were free from Britain?

10. Name two important ideas from the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

11. The words “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” are in what founding document?

12. What is the economic system of the United States?*

13. What is the rule of law?

14. Many documents influenced the U.S. Constitution. Name one.

15. There are three branches of government. Why?

B: System of Government

16. Name the three branches of government.

17. The President of the United States is in charge of which branch of government?

18. What part of the federal government writes laws?

19. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?

20. Name one power of the U.S. Congress.*

21. How many U.S. senators are there?

22. How long is a term for a U.S. senator?

23. Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators now?

24. How many voting members are in the House of Representatives?

25. How long is a term for a member of the House of Representatives?

26. Why do U.S. representatives serve shorter terms than U.S. senators?

27. How many senators does each state have?

28. Why does each state have two senators?

29. Name your U.S. representative. 

30. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?* 

31. Who does a U.S. senator represent?

32. Who elects U.S. senators?

33. Who does a member of the House of Representatives represent?

34. Who elects members of the House of Representatives? 

35. Some states have more representatives than other states. Why?

36. The President of the United States is elected for how many years?* 

37. The President of the United States can serve only two terms. Why?

38. What is the name of the President of the United States now?*

39. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?* 

40. If the president can no longer serve, who becomes president? 

41. Name one power of the president.  

42. Who is Commander in Chief of the U.S. military?

43. Who signs bills to become laws?

44. Who vetoes bills?*

45. Who appoints federal judges? 

46. The executive branch has many parts. Name one.

47. What does the President’s Cabinet do?

48. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

49. Why is the Electoral College important?

50. What is one part of the judicial branch?

51. What does the judicial branch do? 

52. What is the highest court in the United States?* 

53. How many seats are on the Supreme Court?

54. How many Supreme Court justices are usually needed to decide a case?

55. How long do Supreme Court justices serve?

56. Supreme Court justices serve for life. Why?

57. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now? 

58. Name one power that is only for the federal government.

59. Name one power that is only for the states.

60. What is the purpose of the 10th Amendment?

61. Who is the governor of your state now?* 

62. What is the capital of your state?

C: Rights and Responsibilities

63. There are four amendments to the U.S. Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them. 

64. Who can vote in federal elections, run for federal office, and serve on a jury in the United States?

65. What are three rights of everyone living in the United States? 

66. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?* 

67. Name two promises that new citizens make in the Oath of Allegiance. 

68. How can people become United States citizens?

69. What are two examples of civic participation in the United States?

70. What is one way Americans can serve their country?

71. Why is it important to pay federal taxes?

72. It is important for all men age 18 through 25 to register for the Selective Service. Name one reason why.


A: Colonial Period and Independence

73. The colonists came to America for many reasons. Name one.

74. Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?*

75. What group of people was taken and sold as slaves?

76. What war did the Americans fight to win independence from Britain?

77. Name one reason why the Americans declared independence from Britain.

78. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?*

79. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?

80. The American Revolution had many important events. Name one.

81. There were 13 original states. Name five.

82. What founding document was written in 1787?

83. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.

84. Why were the Federalist Papers important?

85. Benjamin Franklin is famous for many things. Name one

86. George Washington is famous for many things. Name one.* 

87. Thomas Jefferson is famous for many things. Name one.

88. James Madison is famous for many things. Name one

89. Alexander Hamilton is famous for many things. Name one.

B: 1800s

90. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

91. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s. 

92. Name the U.S. war between the North and the South.

93. The Civil War had many important events. Name one

94. Abraham Lincoln is famous for many things. Name one.*  

95. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

96. What U.S. war ended slavery?

97. What amendment gives citizenship to all persons born in the United States?

98. When did all men get the right to vote?

99. Name one leader of the women’s rights movement in the 1800s.

C: Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information

100. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1900s.

101. Why did the United States enter World War I?

102. When did all women get the right to vote? 

103. What was the Great Depression?

104. When did the Great Depression start?

105. Who was president during the Great Depression and World War II? 

106. Why did the United States enter World War II?

107. Dwight Eisenhower is famous for many things. Name one

108. Who was the United States’ main rival during the Cold War?

109. During the Cold War, what was one main concern of the United States?

110. Why did the United States enter the Korean War?

111. Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?

112. What did the civil rights movement do?

113. Martin Luther King, Jr. is famous for many things. Name one.* 

114. Why did the United States enter the Persian Gulf War?

115. What major event happened on September 11, 2001 in the United States?*

116. Name one U.S. military conflict after the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

117. Name one American Indian tribe in the United States.

For a complete list of tribes, please visit

118. Name one example of an American innovation.


A: Symbols

119. What is the capital of the United States?

120. Where is the Statue of Liberty?  

121. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?*

122. Why does the flag have 50 stars?

123. What is the name of the national anthem?

124. The Nation’s first motto was “E Pluribus Unum.” What does that mean? 

B: Holidays

125. What is Independence Day?

126. Name three national U.S. holidays.*

127. What is Memorial Day?

128. What is Veterans Day?

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