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OPINION: Could you pass Utah’s required civics test? Take our quiz

Jul 8, 2020, 3:46 PM | Updated: Mar 12, 2021, 9:50 am
Democracy vs. Republic...
(Photo: Adobe Stock / Deseret News)
(Photo: Adobe Stock / Deseret News)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

SALT LAKE CITY — To graduate from high school in Utah, every student must pass a basic civics test, according to The American Civics Education Initiative. Most native-born Americans can’t pass the test. 

Could a link exist between recent street rioting and lack of understanding of the rights and duties of US citizenship?

“The sharp decline in civic knowledge among America’s youth is a growing concern. The violent turmoil of recent weeks, including the destruction of statues and memorials, has made it an urgent issue,” writes Katharine Gorka in her article, “Why We Must Advocate for Better Civics Education in Our Schools,” published Thursday in dailysignal.com.

From that article, “. . . only 39% of all native-born Americans can pass the U.S. citizenship test. Even more alarming is what the data say about the sharp generational decline: Among native-born senior citizens, 74% pass the citizenship test, while a mere 20% of native-born Americans under the age of 45 can pass it.”

Civics test sample questions

How do you think you would fare on a civics test? But before you check out the quiz below, let’s look at some sample questions.

“What is the supreme law of the land?”

Answer: The Constitution.

“What is an amendment?”

Answer: A change or an addition to the Constitution.

“What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?”

Answer: The Bill of Rights.

“What is freedom of religion?”

Answer: You can practice any religion or not practice a religion.

“Name one branch or part of the government?”

Answer: Legislative branch, judicial branch or executive branch.

“What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?”

Answer: Check and balances or separation of powers.

“Who makes federal laws?”

Answer: Congress (Senate and House)  — not presidential executive order.

“How many US senators are there?”

Answer: 100.

“How many years do they serve in one term?”

Answer: six.

Your turn

Okay, now it’s your turn to take the civics test. Keep scrolling to take our version of the quiz. 

What does the judicial branch do?

Correct! Wrong!

The judicial branch reviews laws and explains laws. It resolves disagreements. It also decides if a law is supported by the Constitution, or is constitutional. The Supreme Court and all other federal courts are part of the judicial branch. (Department of Homeland Security)

What does the President's Cabinet do?

white house electoral college Getty Images
Correct! Wrong!

The president's cabinet advises the president. The people in the cabinet are the vice president and the heads of 15 government departments. (Department of Homeland Security)

How many members are in the House of Representatives?

Correct! Wrong!

There are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives. Each state is divided into districts. Each district elects one representative. California is the state with the most people. It has more than 50 representatives. States with fewer people, like Alaska, have only one representative. (House of Representatives)

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

Correct! Wrong!

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers. The U.S. Constitution was written at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. People at the Constitutional Convention decided how the government should work. Then James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers explained the new government. They said that the new United States needed the Constitution. Newspapers all over the United States published the Federalist Papers. (Department of Homeland Security)

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

Getty Images
Correct! Wrong!

The United States added four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Government leaders added the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. It says that a male citizen of any race can vote. The Nineteenth Amendment says that any citizen, including women, can vote. Congress added the Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution in 1964. It made poll taxes illegal. Poll taxes were taxes that citizens had to pay to vote. Poll taxes were used to stop some people, especially African Americans, from voting. The Twenty-sixth Amendment was added in 1971. It says that citizens who are 18 years old and older can vote. (Department of Homeland Security)

What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?

Correct! Wrong!

United States citizens vote in federal elections and serve on juries. It is the responsibility of United States citizens to vote in federal elections. Voting is important. However, there is no law that says citizens must vote. It is also the responsibility of citizens to serve on a jury when they are asked. If a citizen gets a court letter to serve on a jury, the person must go. A jury is a group of citizens in a courtroom that listen to a trial. The jury decides the outcome of the trial. (Department of Homeland Security)

What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

Correct! Wrong!

The Constitution was written at the Constitutional Convention. In 1787, 55 representatives went to Philadelphia. They came from 12 of the 13 original states. They talked about how to design the government. They wrote the Constitution. After the Constitutional Convention, the states agreed to adopt the Constitution. (Department of Homeland Security)

What is the supreme law of the land?

Correct! Wrong!

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. All laws in the United States need to follow the Constitution. Sometimes, people think a law does not follow the Constitution. They make a case. They take the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can decide that a law is unconstitutional. If that happens, it can't be a law anymore. Everyone must follow the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. (Department of Homeland Security)

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

Correct! Wrong!

The first three words of the Constitution are "We the People." The document says that the people of the United States choose to create the government. "We the People" also explains that people elect representatives to make laws. This is a form of self-government. (Department of Homeland Security

Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?

Correct! Wrong!

Some states have more representatives than other states because they have more people. We know how many people live in each state because of the census. Every ten years, the United States government counts the people of the United States in the census. The census results decide how many representatives come from each state. The state is divided into districts. Each district elects one representative. If the number of people in a state changes, the number of representatives might change. (Department of Homeland Security)

What territory did the US buy from France in 1803?

Correct! Wrong!

The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. After the United States gained independence, many Americans believed that the country should expand. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory for $15 million. This land doubled the size of the United States. American Indians and European settlers lived on this land. After the United States bought the Louisiana Territory, many more settlers moved west. (Department of Homeland Security)

What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

Correct! Wrong!

Leaders of the new American government wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It told the world that American colonists were free from Great Britain. It said that all people were created equal. It said that the government should protect citizens' rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The rights in the Declaration of Independence are important in United States history. They are still important today. Americans continue to believe in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (Department of Homeland Security)

Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

NASA
Correct! Wrong!

The flag’s 13 alternating red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Its 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states. (USA.GOV)

Name one US Territory

Pexels
Correct! Wrong!

There are five major U.S. territories: Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Territories have their own local governments. They also must follow the laws of the U.S. federal government. (Department of Homeland Security)

Where is the capital of the United States

Correct! Wrong!

Washington, D.C., is the capital of the United States. In 1800, the federal government moved to Washington, D.C. D.C. stands for District of Columbia. Senators and representatives meet at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to make laws. The president lives and works at the White House in Washington, D.C. Supreme Court judges make decisions at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Department of Homeland Security)

Who is the "Father of Our Country"

constitution
Correct! Wrong!

Some states have more representatives than other states because they have more people. We know how many people live in each state because of the census. Every ten years, the United States government counts the people of the United States in the census. The census results decide how many representatives come from each state. The state is divided into districts. Each district elects one representative. If the number of people in a state changes, the number of representatives might change. (Department of Homeland Security)

How many years are U.S Representatives elected for?

Correct! Wrong!

We elect a U.S. representative for two years. Representatives can run for office as many times as they want. Their job is to represent the people who live in their district in the House of Representatives. (Department of Homeland Security)

Why did the colonists fight the British?

term limits Getty Images
Correct! Wrong!

The colonists fought the British because they wanted to be free from Britain. They fought the British because of unfair taxes. They fought because they didn't have self-government. When the American colonies formed, they were part of Britain. Britain increased taxes for colonists on things they bought and used every day, like tea. Many colonists were angry because no one represented their needs in the British government. Colonists believed they did not have self-government. The British forced colonists to allow British soldiers to sleep and eat in their homes. The colonists joined together to fight Britain and gain independence. (Department of Homeland Security)

If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

Correct! Wrong!

If the president can no longer serve, the vice president becomes the president. This has occurred nine times in American history. For example, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas. Ninety-nine minutes after President Kennedy's death, Vice President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as president. (Department of Homeland Security)

Who does a US Senator represent?

Senate.gov
Correct! Wrong!

The Constitution prescribes that the Senate be composed of two senators from each State (therefore, the Senate currently has 100 Members) and that a senator must be at least thirty years of age, have been a citizen of the United States for nine years, and, when elected, be a resident of the State from which he or she is chosen. A senator's term of office is six years and approximately one-third of the total membership of the Senate is elected every two years. ( The United States Senate)

Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

Correct! Wrong!

The Chief Justice of the United States is the leader of the judicial branch. This person is one of nine justices of the Supreme Court. (Department of Homeland Security

How many amendments does the Constitution have?

constitution quiz
Correct! Wrong!

The Constitution has 27 amendments. Amendments are changes to the Constitution. Congress added the first ten amendments in 1791. They are called the Bill of Rights. Since then, Congress and the states added more amendments. The Twenty-seventh Amendment was added in 1992. (Department of Homeland Security)

Civics test
100%
Congratulations! You scored a 100%
More than 90% correct
Congratulations you passed with more than 90%
More than 80% correct
Congratulations you passed with more than 80%
More than 70% correct
You passed with more than 70%
More than 60% correct
You got more than 60% right
Less than 60%
In order to pass the US Naturalization Interview, you need to have correctly answered more than 60% of the questions. Unfortunately, you have scored below 60%

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OPINION: Could you pass Utah’s required civics test? Take our quiz