College Students Lack Knowledge in History and Politics

June 24, 2008

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Some highlights from the study include:

  • 59.7 percent of college students answered correctly about Abraham Lincoln’s time in office as 1851 to 1875.
  • 61 percent of college students were able to identity the United States’ objective in the Persian Gulf War, to rid Iraq’s troops from Kuwait.


** Top 10 (mean) college scores:


- Harvard University 69.56 percent
- Grove City College (PA) 67.26 percent
- Washington & Lee University (VA) 66.98 percent
- Yale University 65.85 percent
- Brown University 65.64 percent
- University of Virginia 65.28 percent
- Wheaton College (IL) 64.98 percent
- University of Pennsylvania 63.49 percent
- Duke University 63.41 percent
- Bowdoin College (ME) 62.86 percent


Dr. Drake hopes that students will connect with the reasons already stated, but he notes one more plus for learning American history: “… good history is good storytelling, and because of that, it tends to be dramatic and entertaining,” he said. “That is why some of the best ways to learn history is through historical novels, since they allow the reader to go back in time to examine the lives and loves and trials of particular people in particular cultures and circumstances.”

Want to test your American history knowledge as a nontraditional student? Take the Intercollegiate Studies Institute American Civic Literacy Test.


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