Can You Answer These Elementary School Questions Without Consulting a Child?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: PeopleImages / E+ / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Remember the 2000s? Challenging quiz shows were the rage back then! The international sensation "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" kicked things off, followed by "The Weakest Link" and "1 vs. 100." All these shows had one thing in common: They were difficult. Only brainiacs needed apply. 

Then, something funny happened. An unassuming show called "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?" debuted on Fox with a deceptively simple premise: It would ask contestants with high IQs--and sometimes, advanced degrees--questions from grade-school textbooks. And oh, how the mighty fell! It turned out that architects, M.D.s, schoolteachers and the like couldn't remember what they'd learned when their age was in single digits. 

If you're a competent adult with a grade-school kid, this probably wasn't news to you. You probably struggle in the same way when you try to help your son or daughter with their homework. What was Teapot Dome about, again? How do you write 2/3 as a decimal? Even if you don't have a school-age child, maybe you're eager to find out how much how remember from your grammar school days. If so, we've got a quiz to help you out. Don't worry... Even if you do badly, we'll still sit with you at lunch!

Which of the below option is an odd number?

Want to be confused and possibly even disturbed? Consider this: An even number plus an even number is always another even number. An odd number plus an odd number is also always an even number. Only an odd number plus an even number is an odd number. Yet there's a 50-50 balance of odd and even numbers in math, not a 2-to-1 ratio. We'll let you chew on that for a while.


What is New Mexico?

Disturbingly, a number of Americans don't realize that New Mexico is a state just east of Arizona. Walter Lopez, the editor of New Mexico Magazine, collects stories from New Mexicans about the times they had to explain to someone from one of the other 49 states that, really, they weren't from a foreign country.


3/4 is an example of which of these?

If 3/4 was written as .75, it'd be a decimal. This can also be written as "75 percent." The other two choices, odd number and rational number, don't really apply here.


The top number of a fraction is called the numerator. What is the bottom number called?

You've probably heard the expression "the lowest common denominator." That means that the denominator is as small a number as it can be while still being a whole number. Since the numerator is reduced in proportion to the denominator, reducing to the lowest common denominator is a way of making a fraction small and easy to deal with.


The planet closest to the sun is ... ?

Mercury is a small planet, and the one closest to our star. This planet was named for the god Mercury, (Hermes in Greek mythology), the messenger of the Olympians.


Which of the world's oceans is the largest?

The Pacific Ocean is the champ in terms of size. Following it, in order, are the Atlantic, the Indian, the Southern and the Arctic Oceans.


Which of these refers to a young deer?

Young deer are called fawns. This name has lent itself to a color--a pale brown--and is also sometimes used as a female name.


How many continents are there?

Most of the world's continents are a land mass all on their own--both of the Americas, for example. Europe is the exception; there is little in the way of a natural division from Asia. However, the Greeks considered Europe its own continent, so the designation stuck.


The state that is home to the Grand Canyon is called ... ?

The Grand Canyon is an eternally popular tourist destination in the desert state of Arizona. It was carved by the great Colorado River.


Something that is "portable" is easily _____.

The word part "port" often refers to motion or travel. Consider also the words "transport" and "transportation," as well as "porter"--someone who carried luggage at railway stations or hotels of old.


What does a "legislator" make?

Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is America's legislative body. In many other countries, this body is called a Parliament.


The earth has a crust, a mantle, and what else?

This is a basic question from geology--the three parts of the earth's composition. The core is the innermost part, and is molten and very hot.


Which of these words means "to set up"?

"Establish" means "to set up, to found." It's also used in argumentation--if you've introduced and properly supported an idea, you've established it.


The substance in the center of your bones is called what?

Kids learn in health class that bone marrow has several functions. It has a role in immune function, and also produces new blood cells--in humans, about 500 billion a day! That's employee-of-the-month stuff right there!


Can you find the closest synonym of "amuse"?

"Amuse" and "entertain" are close in meaning. "Entertain" is usually the more active verb, suggesting real effort made by actors, comedians, et cetera. "Amusement" can be more low-key; a simple anecdote can be amusing.


When written as a percent, 4/5 is which of these?

Here's how it works: 4/5 is also 8/10. Or 80/100. That simple ratio equates to 80 percent, because "per cent" means that 100 is the denominator if the percent is written as a fraction.


Photosynthesis refers to plants' ability to do what?

Plants use sunlight to create sugars which they store and use as fuel. The word is a combination of two Greek words, "photo" for "light" and "synthesis" for "making."


Which option below is correctly spelled?

"Portion" is a slightly fancier word for "part." There's really no need to use "portion," we think--unless you're designing a spelling bee for grammar schoolers.


Choose the closest synonym to the word "shake."

"Quiver" means "to shake," as does the rhyming word "shiver." Fun fact: As a noun, a "quiver" is a wearable container that holds arrows. (We suspect "Game of Thrones" fans already knew that.)


How many major Olympian gods were there?

The main gods numbered twelve, from mighty Zeus to the virgin goddess Hestia. Not included in this number are the many demi-gods of Greek mythology, like the Three Fates or the Titans, who were forerunners to the Olympian gods.


"Halley's" and "Hale-Bopp" are names of what?

Comets are icy astronomical bodies that orbit the sun in wide, elliptical paths. When they pass the earth, they make for once-in-a-lifetime viewing. The two named above are among the most famous.


Which of these is a conjunction?

Conjunctions are linking words, but in linking phrases or clauses, they sometimes change the direction of the sentence. "But" works this way: "I wanted a job, but not to work 60 hours a week."


What part of speech is "she"?

Pronouns are shortened and broadly-applicable nouns; they take the place of either common or proper nouns. In other words, either "the woman" or "Isabel" could be replaced with "she."


This part of speech often ends with "-ly." Which one is it?

An adverb is a part of speech that modifies (describes, adapts or changes) a verb. Or, other times, an adjective or another adverb. They're known for ending in "-ly" (e.g., "angrily"), but watch out: A good deal of adverbs do not actually have this suffix.


One of these is not a "part of speech" in grammar. Which is it?

"Cosines" is a term from mathematics (and a bit beyond elementary school math). The other three are parts of speech, of which there are commonly accepted to be eight: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, articles, prepositions and conjunctions.


Pick the interjection from the four quotes below.

A word that gets someone's attention, or expresses sudden attention or emotion, is an interjection. They're not always one word, as in, "My God!"


Only one of these words is correctly spelled. Which is it?

"Angelic" is the correct spelling. If you struggled with spelling in school, or do even to this day, don't be too hard on yourself. Spelling is actually a very poor indicator of intelligence.


"Stamen" and "pistil" are parts of a what?

We could have said "plant reproductive system" as well, because that is fundamentally what a flower is. The stamen produces pollen, the fertilizing agent, and the pistil receives it.


Which word is correctly spelled?

"Excess" is a word that refers to "overage," or unnecessary, extra things. Or behavior, for that matter. A common usage is "drinking to excess."


The genius Isaac Newton studied which of these fields?

Newton was a polymath with a number of mathematical and scientific interests. His researches included math, gravity (and physics overall), astronomy, optics and the nature of light ... Really, this just scratches the surface. He wasn't a medical expert, though.


How many chambers does the human heart have?

The human heart has two atria and two ventricles, separated by valves. This is something students learn in health class in about second or third grade.


In geology, rocks are either metamorphic, igneous, or what?

Sedimentary rocks are formed from compressed layers of sediment over a long period of time. Igneous rocks are made from cooled magma, while metamorphic rocks change composition as the result of heat and pressure--the name "metamorphic" suggests this very change.


A fertilized egg cell becomes what?

Okay, we're getting toward the upper end of elementary-school knowledge here. But sixth-graders do study the reproductive system as part of health science, and they learn about the egg and sperm coming together to create a zygote, which then becomes an embryo.


On which continent would you find the Nile River?

The Nile is the world's longest river, flowing from Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi (it has several points of origin) to Egypt, where it empties into the Mediterranean. If you said the Nile is fictional ... Stay in school, sweetie!


Is Pluto a planet?

Pluto is considered a "dwarf" planet. Discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, it was considered the ninth planet until the late 1990s. The attempt to downgrade it sparked a lot of debate and a "Save Pluto!" drive, and to this day, if you poll 100 people, you'll probably get about a 50-50 on whether Pluto has planet status or not.


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