Making it Popular to Increase your Constitution IQ

A friend recently asked me about tests that high school students take to prepare for college entrance. We spoke about several, among which was the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the SAT. He said we ought to have a CAT for public officials—a Constitution Aptitude Test. He then asked about the PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, that some high school students take in preparation for the SAT and suggested that we require that all persons thinking about running for congress take a PCAT or Preliminary Constitution Aptitude Test before they can have their names put on the ballot or at least before their party will endorse them. This conversation got me to thinking this idea could really take off in preparation for the 2012 elections. What if in every public meeting, candidates would be asked if they have taken the PCAT or the CAT yet? What if precinct committeemen would ask that question of potential candidates as a condition of carrying their petitions to be put on the ballot? What if it became the talk of the town to continue to ask all candidates or potential candidates what their Constitution IQ is? What if candidates were continually asked to tell when the last time was that they undertook a serious study of the U. S. Constitution and perhaps to name two or three areas they think may be grossly violated today?

A Sample Preliminary Constitution Aptitude Test (PCAT)

Here is a sample Preliminary Constitution Aptitude Test with questions taken from the Constitution that all persons thinking about running for congress should know. By the way, these are generated using the eighth grade level option.

  1. What is the one offense the president cannot pardon?
    1. Murder
    2. Treason
    3. Impeachment
    4. Domestic terrorism
  2. Who has the final responsibility to see that the federal laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed?
    1. The president
    2. The vice president
    3. The Cabinet
    4. The Attorney General
  3. Can a person employed by the government serve as an elector to choose the president and vice president?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  4. When the Constitution was adopted, candidates for president had to be either natural-born citizens of the United States or naturalized citizens. True or false?
    1. True
    2. False
  5. Does it violate the separation of powers when the president recommends to Congress that it pass certain laws?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  6. Could the Congress transfer the position of commander in chief from the president to some experienced military leader in time of war?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  7. Which of the following may be reasons why the Founders were opposed to placing any limitation on the number of times a president could be reelected?
    1. A limitation might require a change of leadership in a time of crisis.
    2. A limitation might deprive the nation of an experienced leader at a crucial time.
    3. It should be left to the people to decide who they want as president, regardless of previous time served.
    4. All of the above
  8. Can the compensation of the president be increased or decreased while he or she is in office?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  9. Are there any government officials who cannot be impeached?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  10. Did the original Constitution limit the president to two terms?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  11. Can the president pardon a whole group of people at once?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  12. How old must a person be to become president of the United States ?
    1. 25
    2. 30
    3. 35
    4. 40
  13. Suppose the president arranges a treaty with some foreign government. What must happen before the treaty can go into effect?
    1. The president must sign the treaty
    2. It must be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate who are present when the matter comes up for consideration
    3. The Supreme Court must approve the terms of the agreement
    4. It must be ratified by a majority of the Senate who are present when the matter comes up for consideration
  14. Originally, the Founders hoped the expenses of the national government would be so modest that the entire budget for the federal government would be covered by modest taxes. What form of taxes did they envision?
    1. Taxes on imports
    2. Taxes on exports
    3. Personal income tax
    4. Property taxes
  15. Are taxes uniform throughout the United States as required by the Constitution?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  16. The passing of laws can be slow and complicated. Why might this have been the intention of the Founders?
    1. They didn’t want any more laws than were absolutely necessary.
    2. The goal was not “”efficiency”” in passing laws, but effectiveness in preserving freedom.
    3. They wanted to keep government as simple and uncomplicated as possible.
    4. All of the above
  17. Can the state militias be called up to help the federal government suppress insurrections in the states?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  18. If a person went to the Federal Reserve between 1914 and 1934, what could that person get in exchange for a Federal Reserve note?
    1. gold coins
    2. silver coins
    3. all of the above
    4. none of the above
  19. The House of Representatives currently consists of 435 voting members. How many members must be present to constitute a quorum and allow the House of Representatives to conduct its business?
    1. 175
    2. 218
    3. 250
    4. 272
  20. Can the Congress regulate interstate commerce in such a way that it requires a ship to stop at certain ports to pay duties for the “right” of passage?
    1. Yes
    2. No

Let’s popularize the building of our Constitution IQs among both voters and public officials.

Earl Taylor, Jr.
Answers to the sample Preliminary Constitution Aptitude test: 1. c, 2. a, 3. b, 4. a, 5. b, 6. b, 7. d, 8. b, 9. a, 10. b, 11. a, 12. c, 13. b, 14. a, 15. b, 16. d, 17. a, 18. c, 19.b, 20. b.