Civics 101: What a Citizen Must Know

Do you have what it takes to be an American?

In order to become a U.S. citizen, an applicant must take an oral civics test with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer, who asks 10 random questions from a list of 100. The applicant must correctly answer six, and 92 percent do.

A group of new citizens during a naturalization ceremony at the Putnam County Courthouse in 2015 (County photo)

At least 16 states, not including New York, require high school students to pass the same or a similar test before graduating. Beginning in 2019 in Arkansas, for example, students who hope to graduate will have to correctly answer 60 of the 100 questions on the naturalization test, although with the benefit of multiple choice. (One lawmaker there introduced a bill to also require state legislators to pass the test.)

Here is a selection of 30 questions from among the 100 that could be presented to an aspiring citizen. Some have more than one possible answer, but only one needs to be provided.

  1. What is the supreme law of the land?
  2. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
  3. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
  4. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
  5. What is the “rule of law”?
  6. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
  7. How many U.S. senators are there?
  8. We elect a U.S. senator for how many years?
  9. Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators?
  10. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
  11. Name your U.S. representative.
  12. If both the president and the vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president?
  13. Who is the chief justice of the United States?
  14. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
  15. What is the capital of your state?
  16. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
  17. Name one right only for United States citizens.
  18. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
  19. Why did the colonists fight the British?
  20. Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
  21. There were 13 original states. Name three.
  22. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
  23. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
  24. Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.
  25. What did Susan B. Anthony do?
  26. Who was the president during World War I?
  27. Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
  28. Name one U.S. territory.
  29. Name one state that borders Canada.
  30. What is the name of the national anthem?

Scroll down for answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • What is the supreme law of the land?
    The Constitution
  • The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?
    We the People
  • What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
    The Bill of Rights
  • What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
    Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness
  • What is the “rule of law”?
    Everyone must follow the law / Leaders must obey the law / Government must obey the law / No one is above the law
  • What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
    The Senate and the House (of Representatives)
  • How many U.S. senators are there?
    One hundred (100)
  • We elect a U.S. senator for how many years?
    Six (6)
  • Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators?
    Charles (Chuck) Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand
  • The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
    Four hundred thirty-five (435)
  • Name your U.S. representative.
    Sean Patrick Maloney
  • If both the president and the vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president?
    The Speaker of the House
  • Who is the chief justice of the United States?
    John Roberts (John G. Roberts Jr.)
  • Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
    To print money / To declare war / To create an army / To make treaties
  • What is the capital of your state?
    Albany
  • There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
    Citizens 18 and older can vote / You don’t have to pay a poll tax / Any citizen can vote (men and women) / A citizen of any race can vote
  • Name one right only for United States citizens.
    Serve on a jury / Vote in a federal election
  • What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?
    Freedom of expression / speech / assembly / petition the government/ religion / right to bear arms
  • Why did the colonists fight the British?
    High taxes (taxation without representation) / British army stayed in their homes (quartering) / Wanted self-government
  • Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
    Thomas Jefferson
  • There were 13 original states. Name three.
    New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia
  • The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
    (James) Madison, (Alexander) Hamilton, (John) Jay, Publius
  • What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
    Louisiana, Louisiana Territory
  • Name one war fought by the United States in the 1800s.
    War of 1812 / Mexican-American War / Civil War / Spanish-American War
  • What did Susan B. Anthony do?
    Fought for women’s rights / fought for civil rights
  • Who was the president during World War I?
    (Woodrow) Wilson
  • Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
    Missouri (River) / Mississippi (River)
  • Name one U.S. territory.
    Puerto Rico / U.S. Virgin Islands / American Samoa / Northern Mariana Islands / Guam
  • Name one state that borders Canada.
    Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Alaska
  • What is the name of the national anthem?
    The Star-Spangled Banner

For the complete list of 100 questions, click here.

2 Responses to "Civics 101: What a Citizen Must Know"

  1. Patty Villanova   March 26, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    This is a really excellent article. I would like to see how many of our local students in high school, junior high, etc. can answer even 10 questions correctly. Do they still teach what used to be called “civics”?

    Reply
  2. Teri Waivada   March 26, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    I wonder how many voters can answer the questions, no less those wishing to become citizens.

    Reply

What Do You Think?

To keep the discourse at its highest level, we have a few rules: (1) Posts must have the full name of poster (no first name only, no pseudonyms) and a valid email address. (2) All comments are reviewed by a moderator before they are posted. (3) A civil tone is important. Attack the argument, not the person. (4) Posts will be edited for spelling and grammar. All comments may also appear in print.

Your email address will not be published.