Testing American High School Students on America


Could my fellow Americans hold up to their own citizenship test, as well as a basic geography test?

Justice Fauver, Staff Writer

It’s a pretty common stereotype that Americans are both bad at geography and generally not that smart, but does that stereotype hold true? I surveyed 40 of my fellow students to see how they held up to a US Civics tests, the test one takes when immigrating to the United States, and a geography quiz.

My peers did pretty ok on the basic US trivia questions, although 2 people did say there were 49 stars on the flag. However, once it got down to the more history based questions, they seemed to fall apart. 13 out of 20 people could not name the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, Japan), and 11 out of 20 could didn’t know who was president during WW2 (Franklin Roosevelt). And to my surprise, only 8 out of 20 people knew that the declaration of independence was signed July 4, 1776.

The US Civics test is the test that people must take before immigrating to the United States. (Getty Images)

Where we really began to fall apart was on geography, heavily reinforcing the stereotype. The results were even bad on American geography, with a clear lack of knowledge other than bare-bone, surface level common knowledge. Only 9 people could point out Idaho on a map, 1 person could name the capital of North Dakota (Bismarck), and not a single person could name the capital of Vermont, Montpelier. To be fair, I also didn’t know that before making this test. Once we got to international geography, it became just plain sad. My associates did okay with western Europe, i.e. Germany, Spain, France, the UK, etc. Eastern Europe proved to be quite the challenge though, with only 3 people knowing where Belarus and Estonia are. African and Asian geography was a whole different situation, with zero people knowing where Angola, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Nepal, and Myanmar were. Only 1 person knew where Cameroon was, and that was because his family was from there.

My classmates completely flunked a world geography test. (Getty Images)

Is it not hypocritical for a country with such strict immigration laws to have its own citizens barely, or not even pass their own citizenship test? I think that this test just goes to show that stereotypes aren’t always incorrect, and that maybe the fault does not lie within the individual and their ignorance but rather with the American education system and its lack of education about seemingly simple topics.