If you think you fulfilled your civic duty by showing up at the polls November 4, think again. As The Tonight Show's "Jaywalking" segments and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? have repeatedly and amply shown, many Americans' understanding of their own history and government is somewhat lacking. A new study from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute American Civic Liberties program, the perhaps melodramatically titled Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions, concurs.
The findings were based on the results of a multiple choice exam that included "33 straightforward civics questions, many of which high school graduates and new citizens are expected to know." 71 percent of the Americans who took the test failed it, with an average score of 49 percent. (Sample question: What was the source of the following phrase: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people"?)
Test your own civic literacy at ISI's website, where you can take the exam for yourself, and see if you can beat the average. Of course, if you feel like studying beforehand (or cheating), you can find most of the answers in The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2009 (pp. 435-530).
Photo: Dorothea Lange, LIFE, 1942 [via]