Thursday, September 20, 2007


I took this 60-question quiz on topics of American history, government, foreign policy and economics. Apparently the same test was given to students at fifty American universities and at no school did the average score crack 70%. Harvard students performed the best with an average of 69.56%. The group who administers the test claims the results are proof that American universities are failing to teach their students fundamental knowledge of American citizenship.

A few things:

1. Its good to see that the Dominion Institute isn't the only organization out there whose raison d'etre seems to be, not just proving, but manufacturing a decline in civic historical knowledge. I thought this self flagellation was strictly a Canadian phenomenon.

2. Though I am skeptical of tests of this nature, especially when they are obviously being used for a particular agenda, nevertheless the results are somewhat sobering. A 70% average would be perfectly reasonable as a result for society at large, but for university seniors at America's best academy? Did the engineers drag down the scores of Arts students?

3. The test overall and some of the question in particular are skewed toward a libertarian-conservative world view. Perhaps if there had been more Marxists questions the students would have done better - but perhaps that part of the point?

My personal results:

Here's were we get to the claim of the title of the post.

1. I scored 56/60 for 93.33%, not bad for a Canadian.

2. The questions tend to focus on the colonial period, American intellectual history, and foreign policy, all of which I have a pretty good education in, though having NEVER taken a course in economics I was impressed that I only got one of the economics oriented questions wrong.

3. Again, based on personal experience, the results of the test are somewhat surprising. Most of my American friends from undergrad would have scored well over 70%, and several I'm sure would have scored in the 95-100 range. But then again, we went to McGill and not Harvard for a reason.

[link to the test via The Tiger in Somerville]

Posted by Matthew @ 11:11 a.m.

Read or Post a Comment

about as smart as a Harvard student - 42/60

Posted by Blogger Matthew's Dad @ September 21, 2007 12:12 a.m. #

Glad you found this because it was an excellent study break. I scored the same as you, so I think that means you have to come down to visit Buffalo and we'll take on the true challenge, Mike the bartender at Founding Fathers Pub.

Posted by Blogger Adam @ September 21, 2007 8:56 p.m. #

47/60...not bad considering I've never taken an American History course ever...but at least I'm better than a Harvard student...hooray, false sense of superiority!

Posted by Blogger blackhole @ September 29, 2007 6:24 p.m. #

Hmm.. I scored the same as you too.. I wonder what questions you and Adam got wrong?

I wonder how well Americans who attended McGill would do on a Canadian civic history test.

Posted by Blogger Nick @ October 03, 2007 12:16 a.m. #

I'm telling you, I totally don't believe that the average Harvard student is that ignorant. Or that the average Princetonian is even more ignorant.

I can only imagine that it's people falling flat on certain historical questions and the economics ones due to left-wing pablum that is an automatic first reaction -- because most of my friends (who trend left-wing -- 90% Democrat, anyway) would get 90%+ on it...

Posted by Blogger Ben @ October 07, 2007 7:43 p.m. #

Mind you, I graduated magna, and most of my friends pulled some level of honours. (Not that getting honours means all that much -- at Princeton, 45% of the class has some form of Latin honours, and at Harvard and Yale it's an even greater proportion.)

Posted by Blogger Ben @ October 07, 2007 7:48 p.m. #

I'm a bit late to the game but I also scored a 56/60, which suggests to me that we were all the subjects of some sort of nefarious experiment at McGill...

Posted by Blogger Mader @ October 16, 2007 11:50 p.m. #
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