How Well Do You Know the US Government?


By: Isadora Teich

6 Min Quiz

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Picture a giant octopus with its tentacles wiggling their way into every facet of your life. Now picture that octopus wearing a suit (or military uniform) and handing your tax bills, government subsidies and appeals for your vote. You've got a pretty fair picture of the U.S. government. But how much do you really know about the mega-corporation that runs our country?

We all know there are three branches of the government, but what are they called? And which department handles what issue? If you've got a nuclear waste dump making your garden tomatoes glow in the dark, who you gonna call? If you think your gas tax is too high, but instead of having it lowered you just want to make sure it gets spent the way you want it (on bunnies for kids in hospitals), where would you go to plead your case?

Just about everything we do every day is touched in some way by the U.S. government. Like it or not, our president, courts, legislators, and other functionaries provide vital (and sometimes annoying) services we use daily. Of course, they also demand we pay for those services, and they'll get their pound of flesh one way or another.

How well can you navigate the halls of power? Crack open your civics book and tackle this quiz!

How many major political parties are there in America?

The US government is often referred to as a two-party system because of the two main political parties in control. These are the Democrats and Republicans.


Which political party is often referred to as the GOP?

The Republican Party is often referred to as the GOP. This stands for Grand Old Party.


Which party in America is more right-leaning politically?

The Republican Party is associated with smaller government and lower taxes. Republicans are often referred to as conservatives.


Which party in America is more left-leaning politically?

The Democratic Party is generally associated with higher taxes and larger government programs. Democrats are often referred to as liberals and progressives.


Who is part of the executive branch?

The executive branch contains the president, vice president, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, and more. It is the job of the executive branch to carry out and enforce laws.


What is it called if a president decides not to approve a bill?

If a president decides not to approve a bill, this is called a veto. However, Congress can choose to override the president's veto by taking another vote. If the bill passes the House and Senate by a two-thirds majority it will become law.


Do you have to be born in the US to be president?

In the US Constitution, there are three requirements for a person to become president. Someone must be at least 35 years old, a natural-born US citizen, and have lived in the US for at least 14 years.


What is the job of the president's cabinet?

The presidential cabinet is made up of the heads of the 15 main executive departments, such as the departments of Defense, Agriculture and Education. These people are chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate.


What freedoms does The First Amendment protect?

The First Amendment states that Congress can make no law prohibiting religious practice. The freedoms of press, speech, assembly and the right to petition the government are also protected.


Which of these rights does The Second Amendment protect?

The Second Amendment protects the rights of American citizens to arm themselves. This amendment was created due to the fact that our founders believed that a well-regulated citizen militia is key to a free state.


The Electoral College elects the:

The Electoral College is the process through which the president is elected. People do not vote for the president directly, rather they vote for electors who vote for the president.


Does each state have the same number of electors?

Each state gets an elector for each member of Congress for their state. Each state is guaranteed 2, because each state has 2 senators, and then is granted an elector per member of the House of Representatives for their state.


How many main branches are there of the US government?

The US government was designed with three branches. There are the legislative, executive and judicial branches.


How old do you have to be to vote in the US?

In order to be represented in a republic, it is important for all citizens to vote. In the US, citizens 18 and older can vote.


Who is part of the legislative branch?

The legislative branch is formed by Congress. It also includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. They pass laws, write spending bills, impeach officials and approve treaties.


The Bill of Rights are the first 10 ______ of the US Constitution.

The first 10 amendments to the US Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. They protect the rights of citizens by limiting what the government can and cannot have a say in.


Who is part of the judicial branch?

The third branch of government is the Judicial branch. It is made up of courts ranging from the Supreme Court to local and city courts. The Judicial branch interprets laws.


The US Constitution:

The US Constitution creates the branches of federal government and gives them the power to govern. It also protects US citizens by laying out their basic rights.


How many Supreme Court justices serve at a time?

The US Supreme Court is made up of 9 judges, called justices. They are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.


How many senators does each state get?

Each state gets two senators, regardless of their population. Currently, there are 100 senators in Congress, 2 for each of the 50 states.


How long is a senator's term?

Senators serve 6-year terms and their elections are staggered over even years. This means that only about 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election during any election.


How many members of the House of Representatives does each state get in Congress?

Members of the House of Representatives are elected according to the populations of each state. This leads to smaller states, like Vermont or Rhode Island, having only 1 or 2 representatives in the House, while larger states, like California, might have 50 or more.


Do you have to be born in the US to be a Senator or US Representative?

To run for the House of Representatives, you must be 25 years of age, a US citizen of at least 7 years and a state resident at the time of election. To run for the Senate, you must be 30 years of age, a citizen of the US for at least 9 years and a state resident at the time of election.


The US government is a ________.

While many refer to the US government as a democracy, it does not function as one and is not referred to as a democracy anywhere in the Constitution. In a democracy, individuals have direct votes on every aspect of government. The US is a republic, as people vote for representatives to run the government.


What do laws start as?

After an idea for a law is come up with, an initial draft must be written and sponsored by a member of Congress. This first draft is called a bill.


Which branch of government is the most powerful?

Many consider the Legislative Branch to be the most powerful, as almost every action of the Judicial or Executive Branch can be overridden by the Senate and/or the House of Representatives. The president can even be impeached and gotten rid of by Congress.


What can be the final step of a law being created?

After a bill has worked its way through committee, House approval, and Senate approval, it goes to the president. If he signs the bill, it becomes law.


Which of these rights does The Fifth Amendment protect?

The Fifth Amendment is what people are referring to when they say "I plead the Fifth." This amendment allows people to choose not to testify in court if they think their testimony will incriminate them.


Powers are balanced between the branches of government to prevent:

Our three-branch government was designed on a system of checks and balances. This prevents any one branch from becoming too powerful and seizing total control.


The US Constitution is the ________ constitution still used in the world today.

The American Revolution sparked and inspired countless revolutions around the world. Many countries use documents of government similar in certain ways to the US Constitution.


Have there been more Democratic or Republican presidents?

So far there have been 45 US presidents. 15 were Democrats and 18 have been Republicans.


Who can come up with the ideas which might eventually become laws?

Ideas go through a complex and lengthy process before becoming laws. However, the initial idea can come from many different places, each of which entails its own process.


Each state has its own:

The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution states that all powers not given to the federal government go to the states and the people. All state governments are modeled after the federal government with 3 branches and their own constitution.


The Constitution is organized into __________ articles.

The US Constitution is organized into 7 articles. These articles are Legislative Power, Executive Power, Judicial Power, States' Powers and Limits, Amendments, Federal Power and Ratification.


What percentage of the bills introduced to Congress become law?

Only about 5% of the bills introduced to Congress go on to become law. Congressional committees often reject bills by refusing to act on them, causing 90% of bills to die in committee.


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