Social Studies

How Would You Do on NAEP Social Studies Questions?

By Jessica Brown — May 11, 2015 1 min read
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The latest results of the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests in U.S. history, civics, and geography prompted a lot of head shaking. Scores for 8th graders have been stagnant since 2010. Fewer than one-third of students scored proficient or better on any of the tests. Results of the NAEP tests, also termed “the nation’s report card” were released last week.

The mediocre performance and low scores on some questions drew consternation from some experts about the the state of social studies education today.

For example, only 38 percent of students answered correctly a civics question that required they demonstrate their understanding of the U.S. Constitution. Only 45 percent correctly answered one that required an understanding of time zones, a fundamental geographic concept. And only 27 percent gave a complete answer to a question about African-American participation in the Civil War. Another 27 percent gave inappropriate answers and 15 percent skipped the question entirely.

So I thought I’d pose the questions to you. How would you do? Could you identify the effect of the Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury vs. Madison? Could you use a map to explain the impact of ocean currents on a continent?

U.S. History

Who ruled the Spanish colonies in the Americas?

Click here to view the answer and what percent of 8th graders got it right.


What do the current governments of Canada, France, and Australia have in common?

Click here to view the answer and what percent of eighth graders got it right.



Look at the chart above. In what way is the first set of six countries shown on the chart different from the second set of six countries?

Identify two factors that account for the difference between the two sets of countries.

Click here to view the answer and what percent of 8th graders got it right.

Want more? Click for more sample questions in U.S. history, civics, and geography.

Feel free to let me know in the comments section how you stacked up.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.