Only One in Three Americans Could Pass the U.S. Citizenship Test

iStock/ZekaG
iStock/ZekaG

Before an immigrant can becoming a naturalized citizen, they first must pass a civics exam. The test is not only meant to test applicants' knowledge of U.S. history and government, but also to prepare them for a life of engaged citizenship. So just how hard are the 100 questions aspiring citizens must be prepared to answer? If a recent survey is any indication, they're definitely not easy.

According to a poll shared by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, only one in three Americans would pass today's citizenship test. Respondents had a harder time with some questions than others, with 60 percent not knowing which countries the U.S. fought in World War II, 57 percent not being able to say how many justices sit on the Supreme Court, and only 28 percent correctly identifying the 13 original colonies.

Even when given multiple choice answers, many participants still struggled. Twelve percent of people thought that Dwight Eisenhower (a World War II hero) was a general in the Civil War, and six percent thought he was involved in the war in Vietnam. And even though most people knew the real cause of the Cold War, two percent of people said it was climate change.

People taking the citizenship exam are asked 10 out of 100 possible civics questions, and if they answer at least six correctly they move onto the next stage. Unlike this recent survey, the real test isn't multiple choice, which means applicants need to know the answers to questions like "What year was the Constitution ratified?" and "How many members of the House of Representatives are there?"

The survey results don't contain much to be optimistic about, with respondents 65 years and older scoring the best (74 percent passed) and those under 45 scoring the worst (81 percent failed). Some parts of the country are taking action to ensure this knowledge is just as important to U.S.-born citizens as it is to naturalized ones: Last year, Texas passed a bill requiring all high school students to pass the civics portion of the citizenship test to graduate.

Curious to see how you'd fare against the test? You can take it here.

A Ring Containing a Lock of Charlotte Brontë’s Hair Found Its Way to Antiques Roadshow

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A ring that “very likely” contains a lock of Charlotte Brontë’s hair appeared on a recent episode of the Antiques Roadshow that was filmed in northern Wales, according to The Guardian. The jewelry itself isn’t especially valuable; the TV show's appraiser, jewelry specialist Geoffrey Munn, said he would have priced it at £25, or about $32.

However, an inscription of the Jane Eyre author’s name as well as the year she died (1855) raises the value to an estimated £20,000 ($26,000). That isn’t too shabby, considering that the owner found the ring among her late father-in-law’s belongings in the attic.

A section of the ring comes unhinged to reveal a thin strand of hair inside—but did it really belong to one of the famous Brontë sisters? Munn seems to think so, explaining that it was not uncommon for hair to be incorporated into jewelry in the 19th century.

“There was a terror of not being able to remember the face and character of the person who had died,” he said. “Hair wreaths” and other pieces of "hair work" were popular ways of paying tribute to deceased loved ones in England and America from the 17th century to the early 20th century.

In this case, the hair inside the ring was finely braided. Munn went on to add, “It echoes a bracelet Charlotte wore of her two sisters’ hair … So it’s absolutely the focus of the mid- to late 19th century and also the focus of Charlotte Brontë.”

The Brontë Society & Brontë Parsonage Museum, which has locks of Brontë’s hair in its collection, said that it had no reason to doubt the authenticity of the ring.

[h/t The Guardian]

From Cocaine to Chloroform: 28 Old-Timey Medical Cures

YouTube
YouTube

Is your asthma acting up? Try eating only boiled carrots for a fortnight. Or smoke a cigarette. Have you got a toothache? Electrotherapy might help (and could also take care of that pesky impotence problem). When it comes to our understanding of medicine and illnesses, we’ve come a long way in the past few centuries. Still, it’s always fascinating to take a look back into the past and remember a time when cocaine was a common way to treat everything from hay fever to hemorrhoids.

In this week's all-new edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is highlighting all sorts of bizarre, old-timey medical cures. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

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