American Government

A: Principles of American Democracy

1. What is the supreme law of the land?

Correct answer: The Constitution

Explanation: The Constitution is the highest law in the United States. It is the oldest written Constitution in the world.

2. What does the Constitution do?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • sets up the government
  • defines the government
  • protects basic rights of Americans

3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

Correct answer: We the People

Explanation: The first three words encompass all American citizens and serve to emphasize that the U.S. government is ruled by the people.

4. What is an amendment?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • a change (to the Constitution) or
  • an addition (to the Constitution)

Explanation: The U.S. Constitution is a living document, meaning it can be added to or altered. The Constitution has been amended 27 times.

5. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?

Correct answer: The Bill of Rights

Explanation: The first 10 amendments to the Constitution were adopted on December 15, 1791. Known as the Bill of Rights, it details the rights of the people in relation to the U.S. government.

6. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?*

Correct answers (choose one):

  • speech
  • religion
  • assembly
  • press
  • petition the government

Explanation: The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of expression as well as the right to peaceful protest and to petition the government.

7. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

Correct answer: 27

Explanation: Since 1789, there have been 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

8. What did the Declaration of Independence do?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • announced our independence from Great Britain
  • declared our independence from Great Britain
  • said that the U.S. is free from Great Britain

Explanation: Adopted on July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence announced the separation of the United States from Great Britain.

9. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

Correct answers (choose two):

  • life
  • liberty
  • pursuit of happiness

Explanation: The Declaration of Independence proclaims that all people are created equal and that everyone has three fundamental rights, namely to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

10. What is freedom of religion?

Correct answer: You can practice any religion, or not practice a religion.

Explanation: The First Amendment states that everyone in the U.S. has the right to choose what religion to follow, including the right to change your religion at any time.

11. What is the economic system in the United States?*

Correct answers (choose one):

  • capitalist economy
  • market economy

Explanation: Capitalism is a type of economic system wherein private individuals, and not the government, own the majority of businesses and can generate profit.

12. What is the “rule of law”?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • Everyone must follow the law.
  • Leaders must obey the law.
  • Government must obey the law.
  • No one is above the law.

Explanation: The notion of the rule of law is a fundamental principle of the U.S. Constitution.

B: System of Government

13. Name one branch or part of the government*

Correct answers (choose one):

  • Congress
  • legislative
  • President
  • Executive
  • the courts
  • judicial

Explanation: The United States government is divided into three parts to ensure a separation of powers. The three branches work together to govern the country.

14. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • checks and balances
  • separation of powers

Explanation: Checks and balances ensure that no one branch in the U.S. government becomes too powerful.

15. Who is in charge of the executive branch?

Correct answer: The President

Explanation: The President of the United States oversees the executive branch, which ensures that the laws of the country are obeyed.

16. Who makes federal laws?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • Congress
  • Senate and House of Representatives
  • U.S. or national legislature

Explanation: Congress is the only branch of government that can create new laws or change existing laws.

17. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?*

Correct answer: The Senate and House of Representatives

Explanation: The legislative branch of the U.S. government is responsible for making laws, and is comprised of the Senate and House of Representatives.

18. How many U.S. senators are there?

Correct Answer: 100

Explanation: Each of the 50 U.S. states elects two senators to represent them in the Senate. This excludes territories such as Puerto Rico and American Samoa, as well as the federal capital city of D.C., formally the District of Columbia. Fifty states with two senators each = 100 U.S. senators.

19. We elect a U.S. Senator for how many years?

Correct answer: 6

Explanation: The term of office for a U.S. senator is six years, and every two years, one third of the Senate runs for reelection.

20. Who is one of your state’s U.S. Senators now?*

Correct answer: The answer will vary based on where the applicant lives. Note: District of Columbia residents and those living in U.S. territories should answer that D.C. (or the territory where they live) has no senators.

21. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

Correct answer: 435

Explanation: The House of Representatives has 435 members, who proportionally represent the population of all 50 states.

22. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years?

Correct answer: 2

Explanation: All U.S. House members serve a two-year term, and may run for reelection every even year.

23. Name your U.S. Representative

Correct answer: The answer will vary based on where the applicant lives. Note: District of Columbia residents and those living in U.S. territories should answer that D.C. (or the territory where they live) has no House representatives.

24. Who does a U.S. Senator represent?

Correct answer: All people of the state

Explanation: Each state has two senators who represent all the residents of that state.

25. Why do some states have more Representatives than other states?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • because of the state’s population
  • because they have more people
  • because some states have more people

Explanation: The number of representatives for a state depends on the state’s population — some states have more people, so those states will have more representatives.

26. We elect a President for how many years?

Correct answer: 4

Explanation: The presidential elections take place every four years, and a president can serve for a total of two terms.

27. In what month do we vote for President?*

Correct answer: November

Explanation: The presidential elections occur every four years on the first Tuesday in November.

28. What is the name of the President of the United States now?*

Correct answer: Go to to learn the name of the current U.S. president.

29. What is the name of the Vice President of the United States now?

Correct answer: Go to to learn the name of the current U.S. vice president.

30. If the President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

Correct answer: The vice president

Explanation: The U.S. vice president is the head of the Senate, and will take over as president if the president dies or resigns.

31. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?

Correct answer: The Speaker of the House

Explanation: Next in line is the Speaker of the House if both the president and the vice president cannot serve.

32. Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?

Correct answer: The president

Explanation: In addition to being Chief Executive, the president is also Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.

33. Who signs bills to become laws?

Correct answer: The president

Explanation: After Congress passes a bill, the President signs the bill into law.

34. Who vetoes bills?

Correct answer: The president

Explanation: Only the president has the power to veto a bill, meaning he or she can prevent a bill from going into effect.

35. What does the President’s Cabinet do?

Correct answer: Advises the president

Explanation: The president’s cabinet consists of the vice president and the heads of the 15 executive departments.

36. Name two Cabinet-level positions

Correct answers (choose two):

  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of Education
  • Secretary of Energy
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Secretary of Labor
  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of Transportation
  • Secretary of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  • Attorney General
  • Vice President

37. What does the judicial branch do?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • reviews laws
  • explains laws
  • resolves disputes (disagreements)
  • decides if a law goes against the Constitution

Explanation: The judicial branch is a court system and is made up of different courts, namely the Supreme, Circuit, magistrate, and municipal courts.

38. What is the highest court in the United States?

Correct answer: The Supreme Court

Explanation: The Supreme Court decides whether or not laws align with the U.S. Constitution.

39. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

Correct answer: Go to to learn the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

40. Who is the Chief Justice of the United States now?

Correct answer: Go to to learn the name of the Chief Justice of the United States.

41. Name one power of the federal government?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • to print money
  • to declare war
  • to create an army
  • to make treaties

42. Name one power of the states

Correct answers (choose one):

  • provide schooling and education
  • provide protection (police)
  • provide safety (fire departments)
  • give a driver’s license
  • approve zoning and land use

43. Who is the Governor of your state now?

Correct answer: The answer will vary based on where the applicant lives (D.C. residents should answer that D.C. doesn’t have a governor).

44. What is the capital of your state?*

Correct answer: The answer will vary based on where the applicant lives (D.C. residents should answer that D.C. isn’t a state and therefore doesn’t have a capital. Residents of U.S. territories must name the capital of their territory).

45. Name two major political parties in the United States?*

Correct answer: Democratic and Republican

Explanation: Two major political parties dominate American politics. The Democratic party traditionally represents a more liberal ideology while the Republican party represents a more conservative ideology.

46. What is the political party of the President now?

Correct answer: Go to to learn the political party of the current president.

47. What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

Correct answer: Go to to learn the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

C: Rights and Responsibilities

48. Describe one of the four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote

Correct answers (choose one):

  • Citizens 18 and older can vote.
  • You don’t have to pay a poll tax to vote.
  • Any citizen can vote.
  • A male citizen of any race can vote.

Explanation: The 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments relate to the ability to vote.

49. Name one responsibility that is only for US citizens*

Correct answers (choose one):

  • serve on a jury
  • vote in a federal election

50. Name one right only for United States citizens

Correct answers (choose one):

  • vote in a federal election
  • run for federal office

51. Name two rights of everyone living in the U.S.

Correct answers (choose one):

  • freedom of expression
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of assembly
  • freedom to petition the government
  • freedom of religion
  • the right to bear arms

52. What do we show loyalty to when we say the Pledge of Allegiance?

Correct answers:

  • the United States
  • the flag

Explanation: The Pledge of Allegiance promises loyalty to the United States. New citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the end of the Oath of Allegiance ceremony.

53. Name one promise you make when you become a U.s.citizen

Correct answers:

  • give up loyalty to other countries
  • defend the Constitution and laws of the United States
  • obey the laws of the United States
  • serve in the U.S. military (if needed)
  • serve (do important work for) the nation (if needed)
  • be loyal to the United States

54. What age do citizens have to be to vote for president?*

Correct answer: 18 and older

55. Name two ways that u.s. citizens can participate in their democracy

Correct answers (choose two):

  • vote
  • join a political party
  • help with a campaign
  • join a civic group
  • join a community group
  • give an elected official your opinion on an issue
  • call Senators and Representatives
  • publicly support or oppose an issue or policy
  • run for office
  • write to a newspaper

56. What date is the last day you can submit federal income tax forms?*

Correct answer: The date is typically on or around April 15

57. When must all men register for the Selective Service?

Correct answers (choose one):

  • At 18
  • Between 18 and 26

Explanation: Nearly all men who are U.S. citizens or permanently living in the U.S. must register for the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. The Selective Service accepts late registrations up until a male turns 26.

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