Quiz: Test your Global Literacy

Understanding Global Literacy

Global Literacy or ‘knowledge about the world’ has never been a strong point among citizens of the United States.  It may not improve any time soon if the results of a Council on Foreign Relations and National Geographic survey are to be believed (and I have no reason to doubt them).

The survey population consisted of 1,203 people aged 18-26 who currently attend or have recently attended a college or university in the United States, whether a two-year or four-year institution.

The survey “revealed significant gaps between what young people understand about today’s world and what they need to know to successfully navigate and compete in it.”  For example, on the knowledge questions asked, the average score was only 55% correct. Just 29% of respondents earned a minimal pass – 66% – correct or better. Just over 1% – 17 of 1,203 – earned an A, 91% or higher.

There is some good news.  A majority indicated that they believed it important to be knowledgeable about geography, world history, foreign cultures, world events, and other such topics.  72% said these topics are becoming more important to them.

Despite the recent election results in the US, it is essential that young people who are competing for jobs understand the global context in which they operate.  It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs in the US are now tied to international trade.

Since 2012, the US Department of Education has emphasized global and cultural competency, but we will have to wait and see what priority it has for the new administration.

We have provided a sample of 10 questions (and answers) from the Global Literacy study.  This isn’t a test.  Have fun! Why not share it with your team and colleagues and compare your results.

Council on Foreign Relations & National Geographic: Sample Questions

1. Which of the following is meant by the phrase “nuclear deterrence?”

a. Launching nuclear weapons against an enemy

b. Preventing a country from acquiring nuclear weapons capability

c. Using the threat of a potential nuclear attack to discourage an enemy attack

d. Don’t know

2. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?

a. South Africa

b. Armenia

c. India

d. Indonesia

e. Don’t know

3. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?

a. Russian

b. Mandarin Chinese

c. English

d. Arabic

e. Don’t know

4. Which branch of [the US] government has the Constitutional authority to declare war?

a. Executive

b. Legislative

c. Judicial

d. Department of Defense

e. Don’t know

5. Select all that apply: Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked?

a. Canada

b. China

c. Japan

d. Mexico

e. North Korea

f. Russia

g. South Korea

h. Turkey

i. Don’t know

6. Since 2011, the number of Mexicans leaving the US and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the US

a. True

b. False

c. Don’t know

7. Select all that apply: Which of the following countries have 3000 or more US troops stationed in them?

a. Germany

b. Iraq

c. Japan

d. Libya

e. Mexico

f. South Korea

g. Syria

h. Don’t know

8. Select all that apply: Which of these countries have veto power over UN Security Council resolutions due to their status as permanent members of the Security Council?

a. Brazil

b. China

c. France

d. Germany

e. India

f. Israel

g. Japan

h. Russia

i. United Kingdom

j. United States

k. Don’t know

9. Match each country in the left column with the relevant current issue in the right column. 

a.       Brazil 1.       Normalizing relations with the USA
b.       Cuba 2.       Ongoing civil war
c.       Germany 3.       Epidemic outbreak of Zika virus
d.       Japan 4.       Settlement of refugees/migrants
e.       South Sudan 5.       Referendum on the EU
f.        United Kingdom 6.       Aging and shrinking population

10. Which country is the largest trading (i.e. import/export) partner of the United States based on total dollar value of goods and services?

a. Canada

b. China

c. Mexico

d. Saudi Arabia

e. Don’t know

Keep scrolling for the answers…




  1. c
  2. d
  3. b
  4. b
  5. a, c, g, h
  6. a
  7. a, b, c, f
  8. b, c, h, I, j
  9. a-3, b-1, c-4, d-6, e-2, f-5
  10. a

How did you do? Share your results on our Facebook page.

About the Author

Terence Brake

Terence Brake is an author in the global learning & development field and has over 20 years experience helping executives to work better across cultures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

17 + sixteen =

Schedule a call
close slider
Schedule a conversation
Send us your details using the form below and one of our team will get back to you