Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Most people get a C minus on a basic Constitution test

September 19, 2012 by Scott Bomboy


Constitution Daily’s recent pop quiz on 10 basic questions about the Constitution showed wide awareness—and some confusion—over our founding charter.

For the past week, we’ve been asking readers our website and on partner sites like Yahoo!,, and CoverItLive to take the 10-question test as part of Constitution Week.

The results are in, and over 11,000 people took the quiz. And the average grade was a 70.3 percent, which comes out to a C- on a traditional grading scale.

The 10 questions ranged from easy to somewhat difficult, but most topics were very basic civics questions that are--or should be--covered in schools.

For example, we asked where the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787 and how old a person must be to run for president. Most people answered those two questions correctly, but they weren’t the questions with the most correct answers.

A full 96 percent of test takers knew that the Fifth Amendment protected people from self-incrimination. About 85 percent knew the Constitutional Convention was in Philadelphia, and 87 percent knew a presidential candidate needed to be 35 years of age.

The worst response was about who was the first person to sign the Constitution. Only 30 percent knew it was George Washington.

Only 45 percent of people knew James Madison drafted the Bill of Rights, while 40 percent incorrectly guessed it was Thomas Jefferson.

Another 40 percent of test takers had to guess, also incorrectly, about the basic rights in the First Amendment, will 33 percent failed when it came to the president’s role in the amendment process.

And there were some areas where people knew their history. About 79 percent knew about the Federalist Papers and 81 percent understood the Articles of Confederation preceded the Constitution.

But only 73 percent of people could name the number of amendments in the Bill of Rights.

Of the 11,394 people who took the quiz as of Tuesday morning, about 98 percent were in the United States.

Results from Constitution Daily’s Constitution Basics Quiz

1.Where did the Constitutional Convention meet in 1787?
Philadelphia 85%
New York 7%
Boston 7%
Washington 1%
2. Which of the following isn’t a right guaranteed under the First Amendment
Right to bear arms 60%
Right to petition the government 29%
Freedom of speech 5%
Freedom of religion 5%
3. How many amendments were in the ratified Bill of Rights?
10 72%
12 15%
8 8%
9 5%
4. What document did the Constitution replace?
The Articles Of Confederation 81%
The Royal Colonial Charter 9%
The Declaration of Independence 6%
The Bill Of Rights 4%
5. Who wrote the original Bill of Rights and introduced it to Congress?
James Madison 45%
Thomas Jefferson 40%
Alexander Hamilton 12%
George Washington 3%
6.  Who was the first person to sign the Constitution?
George Washington 30%
James Madison 26%
Thomas Jefferson 25%
Ben Franklin 18%
7. Which series of documents was written by James Madison, Alexander
Hamilton and John Jay to convince states to approve the Constitution?
The Federalist Papers 79%
The Philadelphia Letters 13%
The Freedom Pamphlets 7%
Poor Richard’s Almanac 2%
8. Which of the following doesn’t have an official role in changing or
amending the Constitution?
The President 66%
The States 25%
The House of Representatives 5%
The U.S. Senate 4%
9. When someone “takes the Fifth” amendment, a person is allowed to:
Refuse to answer questions that incriminate themselves 96%
Use a gun to defend themselves 2%
Confront their accuser in court 1%
Avoid cruel and unusual punishment 1%
10. What is the minimum age for a presidential candidate?
35 years of age 87%
There is no minimum age 5%
30 years of age 4%
25 years of age 4%

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