What’s Your UK IQ?

By: Zoe Samuel
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
What’s Your UK IQ?
Image: Gu / Cultura / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Even Simon Schama doesn't know everything there is about Britain and Northern Ireland. The UK, its history, its culture, its natural history, are all so vast and fascinating that many historians come to specialise in the minutia of a single aspect of it. Indeed, whether it is the history of British roads or the history of the Norman invasion, there is so much to know, it is difficult to feel as though one is a handle on it all.

What makes it particularly challenging to know all there is to know is the sheer amount of trivia that comes from being the nation that invented so much of the modern world. From the creation of the modern railroad to the choice to put spots on the football for the first televised football games, innovations coming from people deemed citizens of the United Kingdom have changed the course of history, usually, one hopes, for the best. 

Are you as well-versed in the achievements of Bazalgette as you are with native British snakes? Would you be able to name your member of parliament? How well do you know the history of British sport, or British art and culture? Put on your thinking cap, because it's time to test your knowledge.

1 Doctor
Morsa Images / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Who will write to you when you turn 100?
The Prime Minister
The Queen
Your local MP
Your doctor
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Reaching triple digits is an achievement in and of itself, and that's why all British centenarians get a lovely note from Her Majesty to celebrate the occasion. Better yet, if you make it to 105, you get another one!

2 Prince William
Tom Soper Photography via WikiCommons
If you met Prince William, what would be the proper way to address him?
Your Grace
Your Highness
Your Majesty
Hey, Will!
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

William is a prince, so technically, the proper form of address is "Your Highness." However, he holds a royal dukedom, so you would properly refer to him as the Duke of Cambridge. The system is seen as a bit strange by many, but Britain hangs onto it anyway.

3 Friends Talking
SolStock / Moment / Getty Images
Which of these languages is NOT spoken in the UK anymore?
Scottish Gaelic
Irish Gaelic
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There are plenty of speakers of regional languages such as Cornish and Gaelic, though they don't generally get road signs in translation the way that the Welsh do! Alas, though, Norse is not spoken in Britain, though it has given many words to the English language.


4 One Percent
What income do you need to be a member of the 1% (by income, not wealth) in the UK?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

There is a very high level of wealth inequality in the United Kingdom, but the income distribution curve is actually flatter than many people realize, with the higher tax brackets kicking in relatively low compared to the much less-equal United States. If you make more than £160,000, you are in the top 1% by income, less than half of the equivalent figure in the USA.

5 Hamster
Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia / Moment / Getty Images
What is the most popular pet in the UK?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Dogs just about squeak past cats as the most popular pet in the UK, with 26% of households having one, compared to 24% for cats. The percentage of British homes that have any kind of pet is just above 50%.

6 Skeleton
Image Source / Image Source / Getty Images
Paleontologist Mary Anning discovered the first skeleton of which dinosaur along Britain's Jurassic coast?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Mary Anning was one of only two children out of 10 who survived to adulthood. She supported her family by selling fossils she found on the Jurassic Coast near her home, and soon became notable within the field of paleontology. She is the first scientist to discover the full skeleton of a plesiosaur.


7 Cliffs of Dover
Dave Carr / Momentt / Getty Images
Which of these is the highest cliff in the UK?
White Cliffs of Dover
Wokey Hole
Hangman Cliffs
Malham Cove
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The 1,043 feet of Hangman Cliffs tower over the coast on the edge of Exmoor. This is by far the tallest cliff in the United Kingdom and is happily protected by being designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

8 Royal Opera House
Russ London via WikiCommons
What building now stands on the site of the former Covent Garden Theatre?
Canary Wharf
Buckingham Palace
The Royal Opera House
Gielgud Theatre
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Royal Opera House was founded in 1732, but it is not the first performing arts venue on that site. The Covent Garden Theatre was previously on the site and has lent its name to the opera house as a nickname.

9 Motorway
Peter Adams / Stone / Getty Images
Assuming good traffic, which main road would you take to get from Newcastle to Edinburgh?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Getting from Newcastle to Edinburgh is a challenging drive due to the lack of a road big enough for the level of traffic. It's a much more beautiful journey to make by train if you can stomach the ticket price!


10 Morris Dancers
Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images
What do Morris dancers wear on their knees?
Little hats
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Morris dancing is a curious British tradition dating back to at least the 1400s. It involves bells on the knees, and sticks that are knocked together. It was already considered dated by Elizabethan teams, so these days you will mostly see it at historical reenactments.

11 Fire Festival
Rick Harrison / Moment Open / Getty Images
What is Up Helly Aa?
A big hill
Fire festivals
A mythological will-o-the-wisp
A real will-o-the-wisp
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Up Helly Aa refers to several fire festivals that take place on the Shetland Islands. It marks a celebration of midwinter and is a pagan tradition that predates the arrival of Christianity in these fair isles.

12 1800s
tirc83 / E+ / Getty Images
What was the most popular girl's name in the UK in 1800?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Up to half of the girls were called Mary in 1800, such was the popularity of this name. Other leading contenders included Elizabeth, Margaret, Susan, Sarah and Emily, but none of them came close to dethroning the mighty Mary!


13 The Bridge
Philip Halling via WikiCommons
Which battle decided who would later face William the Conqueror for ultimate control of the English Crown?
Stamford Bridge
Bosworth Field
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Battle of Stamford Bridge took place between King Harold of England and the similarly-named Harald Hardrada, a Norwegian with a claim to the throne. The first Harold won and was thus able to head south and take on William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings.

14 Bermuda
Scott Dunn / Moment / Getty Images
On which island did the British Imperial Censorship station operate in World War Two?
Isle of Wight
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Nearly all wartime transatlantic traffic stopped in Bermuda, including flights, so the censors had to intercept vast quantities of mail, including plenty of Nazi contacts with sympathisers in the U.S. Most of the censors were women, and they worked six days a week in hot and stuffy conditions.

15 Empress Market
Aliraza Khatri / Moment / Getty Images
When did the British Empire abolish slavery?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While the British Empire typically gets some credit from historians for abolishing the transatlantic slave trade in 1807 and then slavery altogether in 1833, it still played an enormous role in setting up the whole system in the first place. The empire also spent a huge amount of money to compensate slave owners, but not enslaved people themselves.


16 Canterbury
Michael Godek / Moment / Getty Images
What is the oldest cathedral in the UK??
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It should come as no surprise that the cathedral that plays the most prominent role in the Church of England as the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury is also the oldest in the nation. Built around 1070, Canterbury is well worth a visit!

17 Magna Carta
Little Hand Images / Moment / Getty Images
In what year was the Magna Carta signed?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A direct line can be drawn from the Magna Carta to the U.S. Constitution, and almost every other major Western document concerning laws and human rights (though there are other inspirations, naturally). Establishing that even the king was subject to law, the Magna Carta is a seminal moment in British history.

18 Connemara
Aurélien Pottier / Moment / Getty Images
There are a lot of wild ponies and horses in the UK. Which of these is not a particularly noted example?
New Forest
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Connemara is in the Republic of Ireland; hence, its beautiful ponies are not from the UK. Dartmoor, Shetland and New Forest ponies, however, are among the most adorable and beloved inhabitants of these isles.


19 Medals
ccahill / E+ / Getty Images
The Olympics have been held in the UK three times. Which of the below is not one of those times?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

1966 is an important year in British sports, but only because it marks the last time that England won the World Cup. The three Olympics that have occurred on British soil took place in different years, most recently in 2012.

20 Big Ben
TangMan Photography / Moment / Getty Images
What was the shortest war in British history?
The Anglo-Zanzibar War
The Boer War
The Opium War
The Third Carnatic War
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Taking place in 1896, this is history's shortest war, in which the mighty British Empire crushed poor Zanzibar and made it a "protectorate." Fortunately for Zanzibar, they bided their time and gained independence in 1963, meaning plenty of Zanzibaris born before colonisation managed to live to see the end of it.

21 Scotland Golf
Howard Kingsnorth / Stone / Getty Images
In which nation of the UK was golf invented?
Northern Ireland
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Scotland is the home of golf, perhaps a surprising truth considering that Scottish weather is so changeable that staying outside for the several hours it typically takes to get around a course can be quite a challenge. Still, this has never slowed the Scots down in any other part of life, and golf is the same!


22 Cambridge
Tu xa Ha Noi / Moment / Getty Images
At which British university did Sir Isaac Newton discover his Theory of Gravity?
St. Andrews
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

According to legend, Sir Isaac Newton was sitting under an apple tree when a fruit fell on his head, prompting him to ask the question of what force resulted in this outcome. Whether or not the apple story is true, we know he published his Theory of Gravity in 1687.

23 Nonsuch Palace
Martin Hesketh via WikiCommons
What did Henry VIII build in Surrey that stood for only 150 years?
Hampton Court
Nonsuch Palace
Hever Castle
Alnwick Castle
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Nonsuch Palace was named because there had been no palace as glamourous (according to Henry VII, anyway). It didn't last very long, much like the reign of the son, Edward, for whom he built it.

24 English Garden
Jacky Parker / Moment / Getty Images
What gift of the New World did Sir Walter Raleigh bring back to give to Queen Elizabeth I?
Red pepper
Potato plant
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It is hard to imagine British food without potatoes these days, from chips to roasties to mash. Still, not until Sir Walter Raleigh gifted potato plants to Elizabeth I did this wonderful tuber make it to our shores, at which point it promptly changed mealtimes forever.


25 Girl on Phone
Oliver Rossi / DigitalVision / Getty Images
Which of the below can you dial and NOT get through to the emergency services in the UK?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

999 is the official number for the emergency services in the UK, but this does not mean you can't get help in other ways. 112 is a pan-European number. 911 works too, allegedly because so many Americans were dialling it that the compassionate British decided they weren't going to learn any better. It's unclear whether this is true, but at least it means there are several ways to get help!

26 Black Death
John Downer / Stone / Getty Images
What catastrophe wiped out between a third and half of the British population, starting in 1348?
The Black Death
The Great Fire
The Great Storm
Viking invasion
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The Black Death wiped out up to 60% of Europe's population in places. As horrific as this was, once it passed, a massive social change occurred wherein workers were suddenly in short supply, thus held more power. Wages in some places doubled, and the feudal system was permanently weakened.

27 Actors
Dougal Waters / DigitalVision / Getty Images
What is the longest-running play in British history?
"The Mousetrap"
"The 39 Steps"
"The Play That Goes Wrong"
"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

"The Mousetrap" has been running for an incredible 68 years. A whodunnit mystery that is based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, the play owes its longevity to theatre audiences' willingness to keep the secret after they see the show.


28 Stamps
Bill Ross / The Image Bank / Getty Images
Who or what appeared in the first postage stamp used in the UK?
The Rocket steam engine
Queen Victoria
Paddington Station
Prime Minister William Pitt
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It used to be the case that sending a letter either meant paying a trusted courier upfront or being able to pay when a letter was brought to your door. Once literacy became widespread, a better system was needed, and postage stamps were the result, brainchild of Sir Rowland Hill.

29 Black Cabs
Walter Bibikow / DigitalVision / Getty Images
By what name is the test known that black cab drivers must pass?
The City
The London
The Knowledge
The Cabbie
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Despite the rise of Google Maps and Uber, black cab drivers in London still have to take the Knowledge. This gives them an understanding of London's streets and traffic patterns that algorithms have been unable to rival thus far. Some day this may change, but not yet!

30 Parliament
Yaorusheng / Moment / Getty Images
Who is the UK's longest-serving Prime Minister (so far)?
Margaret Thatcher
Theresa May
William Pitt
Benjamin Disraeli
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Margaret Thatcher took office in 1979 and hung on until 1990. Her party stayed in power another seven years afterwards. Thatcher was a highly polarising figure and remains equal parts loved and loathed by British people.


31 Bangers
Tifanee Gladney / Moment / Getty Images
Which of these is a British word for a kind of sausage?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A banger is a nice fat pork sausage that is ideal for just about any meal. It can be hard to find an authentic one outside the UK, with Americans who have tried it spending large sums to acquire the genuine article on home soil.

32 Adder Snake
Kristian Bell / Moment / Getty Images
What kind of snake is the only one that is native to the UK?
Black mamba
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The adder's bite is not particularly dangerous to most people, though it can cause serious harm to children. British wildlife is generally pretty tame, however, meaning the adder is still one of the more frightening inhabitants of the country.

33 British Man
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images
Which of these is NOT one of the top three most common last names in the UK?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Smith is the most common name in Britain because all villages had at least one blacksmith at the time that surnames became widespread. Williams and Jones hold the second and third spots, and Clarke comes in at number 25.


34 Yorkshire
joe daniel price / Moment / Getty Images
In what popular sport did England win the 2003 World Cup?
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

One thing we Brits do particularly well is invent sports then get consistently beaten at them by other nations, a pattern that holds true across football, cricket and, of course, rugby. However, the tables were turned in 2003 when captain Martin Johnson led a terrific team to victory.

35 Tea
Sergio Amiti / Moment / Getty Images
Roughly how many cups of tea do the British drink every day?
1 billion
17 million
52 million
163 million
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The British drink more tea per day than Americans, and not just per head. That is, we actually drink more total tea despite having one-sixth of the population. It's an impressive feat, but not one that we brag about. We're much more interested in a nice relaxing cuppa.

You Got:
Gu / Cultura / Getty Images