Free FSOT U.S. Government Practice Test Questions

1. In the United States Presidential chain of succession, who would follow the President and Vice President?

A. The Speaker of the House
B. The President pro tempore of the Senate
C. The Secretary of State
D. The Attorney General

2. According to the Constitutional principle of checks and balances, what oversight can Congress exercise in respect to the Presidential power of appointment?

A. Congress may propose Constitutional amendments
B. The Senate may reject cabinet level nominees
C. Congress may override Presidential vetoes of legislation
D. The Senate may reject treaties signed by the President

3. According to the Declaration of Independence, what is the primary purpose for creating government?

A. Government exists to maintain order in society.
B. Government exists to protect basic human rights.
C. Government exists to serve its citizens.
D. Government exists to provide national defense.

4. The Federalist Papers, authored by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, are historically relevant for which of the following reasons?

A. They created an outline for writing the United States' Constitution
B. They proposed the addition of a Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect individual freedoms
C. They are the best analysis and explanation to date of the Constitution
D. They are an exceptional defense of America 's Declaration of Independence

5. Which of the following is an accurate statement about determining a winner in a Presidential election in which no candidate receives a majority?

A. The candidate with the most popular votes will be declared the winner if they possess a margin of victory of at least 4%
B. The House of Representatives will vote to determine a winner, who must receive a majority of the votes, with each member having one vote
C. The House of Representatives will vote to determine a winner, who must receive a majority of the votes, with each state having one vote
D. The candidate with the most electoral votes will be declared the winner if they possess a margin of victory of at least 4%

6. Comparing the tax burden of American citizens with that in other countries, which of the following countries has a lower tax burden when considered as a percentage of the GNP?

A. Denmark
B. Mexico
C. Germany
D. Great Britain

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7. Which of the following departments or agencies does not fall under the umbrella of Department of Homeland Security control?

A. Transportation Security Administration
B. United States Secret Service
C. Federal Bureau of Investigation
D. Federal Emergency Management Agency

8. The U.S. Constitution creates a federalist system in which _______.

A. duties and responsibilities are divided among separate branches of government
B. power is divided between national and state levels of government
C. each branch of the federal government has oversight in regards to the actions of the other two branches
D. political parties govern federal elections

9. The Fifth through Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution protect the individual right to which of the following?

A. Protection from unreasonable search and seizure and quartering of soldiers in peacetime
B. Due process in a court of law
C. Reserved powers not specifically granted to the federal government
D. Freedom of expression

10. Which best describes the primary responsibilities of the President's Chief of Staff?

A. Supervision of White House staff and management of the Presidential appointment calendars and Presidential access
B. Main liaison with JointChiefs of Staff and military commanders
C. Public relations and media communication as well as supervision of speechwriting
D. Main liaison with Congressional leaders and supervision of Presidential appearances and fundraising events

11. What was the significance of the Supreme Court decision in Marbury v. Madison?

A. The federal power to regulate interstate trade was upheld
B. The supremacy of federal law over state and local statute was confirmed
C. The power of judicial review was established for federal courts
D. The court determined that probable cause was sufficient for police searches

12. Which acronym represents the U.S. government agency that would take the lead in preventing, or minimizing the impact of, epidemics such as bird flu?


13. What is a primary function of the Government Accountability Office or GAO?

A. Conducting audits and providing oversight on federal spending
B. Constructing federal budgets and allocating tax dollars to different departments and agencies
C. Publishing reports on Congressional voting records and lobbyist spending
D. Assisting the Internal Revenue Service in processing tax returns

14. Which of the following extended voting rights to American women?

A. The Fifteenth Amendment
B. The Equal Rights Amendment
C. The Nineteenth Amendment
D. The Civil Rights Act

15. Current federal court interpretation of the First Amendment prohibits which of the following based on the establishment clause?

A. Allowing public school students excused absences for religious holidays
B. Prayer organized by public school officials during the instructional day
C. Exemption from participation in The Pledge of Allegiance as required by school policy
D. Use of public school facilities by religious groups

16. What was a primary issue addressed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Bill?

A. Limiting soft money contributions to candidates
B. Conducting investigations into allegations of election fraud
C. Improving the inclusion of third party candidates on Congressional and Presidential election ballots
D. Creating term limits for Congressmen

17. Which of the following is a Constitutional check and balance on the power of the Executive branch?

A. Congressional authority to override Presidential vetoes
B. The power of the President to negotiate treaties with foreign nations
C. The right of the majority party to choose the Speaker of the House of Representatives
D. Presidential authority as Commander in Chief to deploy troops to foreign nations

18.Which of the following describes the date of the Presidential election?

The first Tuesday of November every fourth year
B. The first Tuesday after the first Monday of November every fourth year
C. The second Tuesday of November in an even year once every fourth year
D. The Tuesday after the first Sunday of November every fourth year

19. Who were the first Presidential candidates to debate on television?

A. Eisenhower and Stevenson
B. Kennedy and Nixon
C. Johnson and Goldwater
D. Nixon, Humphrey, and Wallace

20. Which of the following is not a goal of the federal government, under the U.S. Constitution, as described in the preamble?

A. Defending all Americans
B. Providing fair treatment under the law
C. Uniting the states
D. Keeping peace around the world

21. What is the term of service for a U.S. Senator and how often are Senate elections held?

A. Six years, staggered elections every two years
B. Six years, staggered elections every three years
C. Two years, all members up for election at the same time
D. Two years, staggered elections each year

22. Which of the following is not a Presidential power explicitly granted in the Constitution?

A. The right to issue executive orders
B. The right to appoint Ambassadors
C. The right to grant reprieves
D. The right to convene Congress

23. Which of the following served as the United States first written plan of government?

A. The Declaration of Independence
B. The Constitution
C. The Articles of Confederation
D. The Bill of Rights

24. Who served as the first African-American Supreme Court justice?

A. Thurgood Marshall
B. Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
C. Clarence Thomas
D. Abe Fortas

25. According to the Constitution, who has the authority to regulate trade with foreign nations?

A. State legislatures
B. The Senate
C. The President
D. Congress

26. What is a Writ of Habeas Corpus?

A. A court order demanding the release of a government prisoner
B. A court order requiring the government to bring a prisoner to court and explain his detention
C. A court order overriding an executive order or act of Congress
D. A court order for independent counsel to investigate the actions of an elected representative

27. Which of the following best describes the process for choosing Electors in Presidential Elections as established by the Constitution?

A. Each state legislature determines the process for selecting Electors from that state and is allowed the number of Electors equal to that state's total representatives in Congress.
B. The political party of the candidate who wins the most popular votes in a state chooses all Electors from that state and is allowed the number of Electors equal to that state's representatives in the House of Representatives.
C. Each state's elected members of the House of Representatives serves as an Elector from that state.
D. Each state conducts elections for the position of Electors every four year to coincide with Presidential elections and each state is allowed the number of Electors equal to that state's total representatives in Congress.

28. The election of which President introduced the modern Democratic party?

A. Thomas Jefferson
B. Andrew Jackson
C. Abraham Lincoln
D. Franklin D. Roosevelt

29. What is the minimum age required for the office of President?

A. 25
B. 30
C. 35
D. 40

30. Which of the following situations would describe a primary election?

A. Voters in county vote for the position of County Commissioner
B. Republicans vote to nominate a candidate for President
C. The Electoral College members vote for President of the United States
D. City residents vote for members of a Town Council

31. Who is considered to be the "Father of the Constitution" for his role in writing the document?

A. George Washington
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. James Madison
D. Benjamin Franklin

32. Which Presidential cabinet department plays the lead role in advising the President on foreign policy?

A. Department ofHomeland Security
B. Department of State
C. Department of the Interior
D. Department of Commerce

33. The government's power of eminent domain allows them to do which of the following?

A. Take private property for public use
B. Hold prisoners without trial during wartime
C. Use the armed forces to put down civil disturbances
D. Mail official communications without paying for postage

34. Under the Electoral College system established by the Constitution for electing the President, which state would have the most votes?

A. New York
B. Ohio
C. Arizona
D. Alaska

35. During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, an agreement was reached known as the Great Compromise to settle a dispute over representation in Congress.How were states divided over this issue?

A. Northern states versus southern states
B. Large states versus small states
C. Agricultural states versus industrial states
D. Rural states versus urban states

36.Which of the following best describes the main function of the FCC?

A.Regulating communication with television, radio, cable, and satellite
B.Regulating credit reporting practices of banks
C.Insuring bank deposits of consumers in member institutions
D.Overseeing federal farm credit and subsidy programs

37.Which of the following is the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate?

A.The President pro tempore of the Senate
B.The Majority Leader
C.The Vice President
D.The Majority Whip

38.How many times has the U.S. Constitution been amended?


39.The legislation commonly called No Child Left Behind ties local district performance to which of the following?

A.Local taxing authority
B.Federal education funds
C.State control of education
D.State established standards

40.The Civil Rights Act of 1964 took steps enforce the provisions of which amendment?

A.The First Amendment
B.The Thirteenth Amendment
C.The Fifteenth Amendment
D.The Twentieth Amendment

FSOT U.S. Government - Answer Key

1. A. Based on the 25th Amendment and several acts of Congress, the current chain of succession for the Presidency goes from Vice President to Speaker of the House to President pro tempore of the Senate to the Cabinet Secretaries in the order in which their departments were created.

2. B. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution grants the President the power of appointment to numerous high ranking government positions with the approval of the Senate. This includes federal judges, ambassadors, and public ministers and consuls, which has been interpreted to include Cabinet Secretaries.

3. B. According to the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men..."

4. C. The Federalist Papers were a series of essays published, predominantly in New York newspapers following the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. These essays explained and defended the new Constitution and were instrumental in securing its ratification. Most historians today agree that they remain the best commentary on our Constitution and its political theories and principles.

5. C. The 12th Amendment to the Constitution, approved in 1804, established the procedure of determining a winner in a Presidential election with no candidate possessing a majority of votes. The candidates with the highest number of votes, not to exceed three candidates, will be given to the House of Representatives for a vote. Each state votes as a contingent sharing one vote. The House must vote, repeatedly if needed, until one candidate receives a majority of votes with a quorum of 2/3 represented by one or more members.

6. B. The tax burden as described in the United States is approximately 27%. Germany, Denmark, and Great Britain are all well over 30% while Mexico is one of the lowest at about 18.5%. These numbers are approximate and fluctuate from year to year.

7. C. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is under the jurisdiction and control of the Justice Department.

8. B. Federalism is defined as system of shared power between a central government and smaller regional governments.

9. B. These amendments protect due process rights such as legal representation, speedy jury trial, reasonable bail, and no cruel or unusual punishment.

10. A. The responsibilities of the Chief of Staff vary with each President although these responsibilities are usually constant. This role is administrative while at the same time also serves in the capacity of personal advisor.

11. C. In the 1801 Marbury v. Madison decision, the court declared a law passed by Congress to be unconstitutional. This established the power of the courts to interpret the Constitution and its laws.

12. A. The CDC or Center for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading government agency in monitoring, reducing, and researching the spread of diseases in the United States.

13. A. The GAO is an independent agency not under the control of the executive branch. It reports directly to Congress and has the primary task of watchdog over government spending.

14. C. The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified in 1920, prohibited the denial of voting rights based on gender.

15. B. Current court interpretation of the religious aspects of the First Amendments states that prayer organized by school officials violates the establishment clause even if participation is voluntary. This does not apply to student initiated prayer towards which public school officials must by neutral and not hostile.

16. A. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act placed tighter restricts on the acceptance of soft money, money not designated for a particular candidate but rather placed in a party's general or administrative funds. It also restricted issue ads and raised the limits on allowable hard money donations, those designated to a specific candidate's campaign.

17. A. This is the only choice that describes another branch's ability to check the power of the Executive branch as stated in the Constitution.

18. B. The Constitution mandates a Presidential term of four years, however Congressional legislation establishes the exact date. This current procedure was first established in 1845.

19. B. When Nixon and Kennedy became the first Presidential candidates to debate on television in 1960, appearance and demeanor became almost as important as substance. Nixon's sickly pallor and discomfort was no match for Kennedy's California tan and self-confident air.

20. D. The Preamble to the Constitution states as its goals, "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity..." It does not mention any goals related to foreign nations.

21. A. Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution provides for a six year term for Senators. One third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years.

22. A. Although Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution grants "executive power" to the President, it does not explicitly state the right to issue executive orders. Most Presidents have followed this practice although some criticize it as Presidential legislation.

23. C. The Articles of Confederation were written by a committee for the Continental Congress during the American Revolution and became our first plan for national government. The Articles were in place from 1781 until 1788 when our current Constitution was ratified.

24. A. Thurgood Marshall was appointed in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson and served on the court for almost 24 years.

25. D. According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, "The Congress shall have the Power To...regulate Commerce with foreign Nations..."

26. B. The Constitution states that the Writ of Habeas Corpus cannot be suspended except in times of invasion, rebellion, or public safety emergency. This means the government cannot hold prisoners without due process.

27. A. Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution describes the process of choosing members of the Electoral College, giving each state discretion in the process and a number of Electors equal to that state's Senators and Representatives combined.

28. B. The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 marked the split of the old Democratic-Republican party and the formation of a new Democratic party heavily supported by farmers and Americans living in the south and west. This party has evolved considerably, but is the same organization as today's Democratic party.

29. C. Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution states the qualifications for President including being a natural born citizen, fourteen years of residency, and a minimum age of 35.

30. B. Primary elections allow political parties to choose candidates to run in general elections.

31. C. James Madison came to the Constitutional Convention with a proposal called the Virginia Plan which eventually became the foundation of the Constitution. He also took extensive notes of Convention proceedings and wrote many essays defending the Constitution that helped secure its ratification.

32. B. The Department of State helps the President analyze and formulate foreign policy and protect America 's interest around the world. Foreign ambassadors fall under the umbrella of this department.

33. A. Eminent domain allows the government to take private property for uses determined to be in the public interest. Fair compensation must be given in such cases.

34. A. A state's number of Electors is determined by its total representation in Congress which includes two Senators and a number of Representatives based on population. New York has a larger population that the other three states.

35. B. The dispute over representation centered on a disagreement over whether it should be equal for all states or based on population. The compromise involved creating a Congress with two houses, representation in one based on population and equal representation in the other.

36. A. FCC stands for Federal Communications Commission which has regulatory authority over most communications using mediums other than print.

37. C. Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution gives this responsibility to the Vice President who does not vote except in the case of a tie. In his or her absence or assumption of Presidential duty, the Presidential pro tempore takes over.

38. C. The first ten amendments were ratified as The Bill of Rights in 1791 almost immediately after the ratification of the Constitution. Since then seventeen additional amendments have been passed for a total of 27, the last in 1992.

39. B. No Child Left Behind imposes federal standards on education nationwide. Although the federal government has no constitutional authority over education, they can distribute and withhold funds to compel state and local cooperation.

40. C. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination in the voting process based on race. Many states had had produced legislation that circumvented this amendment without directly violating it. The Civil Rights Act was sweeping federal legislation aimed at eliminated state and local obstacles to voting rights.


Last Updated: 04/21/2017

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