(RNN) – In less than a month, American voters will head to the polls to cast votes for governors, senators and representatives.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to do so with an uncomfortable truth: Most Americans could not pass the United States Citizenship Test.
According to the results of a survey released by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation this month, only one in three Americans, about 36 percent, can pass a multiple-choice test consisting of items taken from the citizenship exam, which has a passing score of 60.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers a civics practice test. Click here to take it.
“With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential,” Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said. “Unfortunately, this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test.
“It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment. Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today.”
On a multiple-choice exam, only 13 percent of respondents knew the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788. Most people thought it was 1776.
Sixty percent of respondents did not know who the U.S. fought against in World War II.
Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed did not know how many justices sit on the Supreme Court, despite a plethora of national media attention recently.
Seventy-two percent of respondents either did not know or incorrectly identified the original 13 states.
Twenty-four percent managed to correctly identify one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for. And 37 percent of the incorrect responses showed a belief he invented the light bulb.
Twenty-four percent of those surveyed could answer why the colonists fought Great Britain.
Twelve percent thought WWII Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was a commander in the American Civil War. Six percent thought he was a Vietnam War general.
Most people, thankfully, knew the cause of the Cold War. But two percent of respondents thought it was climate change.
“Americans need to understand the past in order to make sense of a chaotic present and an inchoate future," Levine said. “History is both an anchor in a time when change assails us and a laboratory for studying the changes that are occurring.
“It offers the promise of providing a common bond among Americans in an era in which our divisions are profound and our differences threaten to overshadow our commonalities.”
People over the age of 65 will be happy to know they fared the best, with 74 percent of that age group answering six in 10 questions correctly.
Only 19 percent of people younger than 45 passed the exam. Eighty-one percent of them scored a 59 or lower.
Lincoln Park Strategies conducted the poll. It has a margin of error of ±3 percent with a random sample of 1,000 American citizens.