History buffs take heart! Your love of presidential particulars may set you apart from many of your peers—and give you an edge in an intriguing memory test that may illustrate the typical pattern of cultural forgetfulness. Follow the instructions below to take the presidential memory test and then see how your performance compares with various groups of Americans at different points in time.

In 1974, 1991 and 2009 researchers led by psychologist Roddy Roediger at Washington University in Saint Louis asked college students to recall as many presidents’ names as possible, in the chronological order that they served. In 2009 they also surveyed adults of different ages. Results, described in Science this past November, show that almost everyone forgets presidents at a predictable rate—only about chief executives prior to the one currently in office are remembered by most of the population. In addition, almost everyone remembers the first few and a couple important names in the middle of the pack. Learn more about what this study reveals about our cultural memory in Scientific American MIND.

To see how your memory compares, first make a list of the numbers 1 through 44. Then write down the presidents’ names in the numerical slot you believe to be correct (for instance, put Obama at number 44).

All done? Time to score yourself. First simply count how many presidents you could remember, without paying attention to their numerical placement.

Compared with college students in 2009,
if you named:                              you're in the:
34 presidents................................90th percentile
27 presidents................................80th percentile
24 presidents................................70th percentile
21 presidents................................60th percentile
19 presidents................................50th percentile
18 presidents................................40th percentile
15 presidents................................30th percentile
13 presidents................................20th percentile
11 presidents................................10th percentile

These results were pretty similar for people of all ages, as you will see depicted in the graphs below. The college students were able to name slightly more presidents than people ages 30 to 49 or 50 to 69, probably because their history lessons happened more recently, the researchers suspected.
Now it’s time to see how you stack up when numerical placement is taken into account. Scroll to the bottom of this article to find the correct chronological list, and count how many presidents you placed correctly.

Compared with college students in 2009,
if you placed:                               you're in the:
21 presidents................................90th percentile
15 presidents................................80th percentile
12 presidents................................70th percentile
 9 presidents................................60th percentile
 8 presidents................................50th percentile
 7 presidents................................40th percentile
 6 presidents................................30th percentile
 5 or fewer................................20th percentile or lower.

(Thanks to memory researcher and study author Andy DeSoto at Washington University for providing these scoring charts in percentile form.)

The researchers studied numerical placement because a large body of data exists on how people remember ordered lists—they tend to remember items at the beginning, at the end and occasional ones in the middle—when an item is particularly important or unusual. Our collective memory for presidents follows the same trend.

One final point: The researchers noted that a very small handful of participants were able to name every president in order, with ease—almost as if they had memorized them with a mnemonic or otherwise made it a point of personal pride to know the whole list. To those students of history (and trivia geeks), we tip our hats.

----------------------
Here is the complete, chronological list of presidents so you can check your work:
1. George Washington
2. John Adams
3. Thomas Jefferson
4. James Madison
5. James Monroe
6. John Quincy Adams
7. Andrew Jackson
8. Martin Van Buren
9. William Henry Harrison
10. John Tyler
11. James K. Polk
12. Zachary Taylor
13. Millard Fillmore
14. Franklin Pierce
15. James Buchanan
16. Abraham Lincoln
17. Andrew Johnson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
20. James A. Garfield
21. Chester A. Arthur
22. Grover Cleveland
23. Benjamin Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
25. William McKinley
26. Theodore Roosevelt
27. William Howard Taft
28. Woodrow Wilson
29. Warren G. Harding
30. Calvin Coolidge
31. Herbert Hoover
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
33. Harry S. Truman
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
35. John F. Kennedy
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
37. Richard M. Nixon
38. Gerald R. Ford
39. James Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. George H. W. Bush
42. William J. Clinton
43. George W. Bush
44. Barack Obama