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Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (U.S. game show)

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Title: Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (U.S. game show)  
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Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? (U.S. game show)

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?
Created by Barry Poznick
John Stevens
Mark Burnett
Directed by Don Weiner
Presented by Jeff Foxworthy
Theme music composer David Vanacore with
Blessed Kateri Children's Choir
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5 (3 on Fox, 2 in syndication)
No. of episodes Fox:
Executive producer(s) Mark Burnett
Roy Bank
Barry Poznick
John Stevens
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running time 44 minutes (Fox)
22–26 minutes (Syndicated)
Production company(s) Mark Burnett Productions
Zoo Productions
Original channel Fox (2007–09)
Syndication (2009–11)
Original airing Fox:
February 27, 2007 (2007-02-27) - September 18, 2009 (2009-09-18)
September 21, 2009 (2009-09-21) - March 24, 2011 (2011-03-24)

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? is an American quiz Don't Forget the Lyrics!. The final episode aired on September 18, 2009.

On November 6, 2014, Fox announced it would revive the format, with a new generation of fifth-graders, to its lineup as a midseason replacement in the 2014–15 season.[6]

5th Grader games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer ten questions (plus a final bonus question). Content is taken from elementary school textbooks, two from each grade level from first to fifth. Each correct answer increases the amount of money the player banks; a maximum cash prize of $1,000,000 can be won. Along the way, the player can be assisted by a "classmate", one of five school-age cast members, in answering the questions. Notably, upon getting an answer incorrect or deciding to prematurely end the game, the contestant must state that he or she is "not smarter than a 5th grader."

Two people have won the $1,000,000 prize: Nobel Prize in Physics and professor at University of California, Berkeley.



The concept that became the show had been a regular bit on The Howard Stern Show for a number of years. In November 2006 it was pitched as "Do You Remember Grade School?"[7] by Burnett and Zoo Productions to network executives in the form of a six-question quiz; the only network president who was able to win on the quiz was Fox's Peter Liguori.[8] On January 31, 2007, Fox announced that they had picked up the show for an initial six-episode run,[9] and on February 9 Foxworthy was announced as host.[10] Less than eight weeks after being pitched, the first episode aired.[7]

Original version (on Fox)


Correct Answer
1 $1,000
2 $2,000
3 $5,000
4 $10,000
5 $25,000
6 $50,000
7 $100,000
8 $175,000
9 $300,000
10 $500,000
11 $1,000,000
1st Subject 2nd Subject
Million Dollar Question
5th Grade 5th Grade
4th Grade 4th Grade
3rd Grade 3rd Grade
2nd Grade 2nd Grade
1st Grade 1st Grade

In each game, the contestant (an adult) is asked a series of eleven questions, spanning ten subjects (such as Gym, Spelling or Art) taken from textbooks for first through fifth grade students. Each question is associated with a grade level; there are two questions per grade, from first to fifth. The player can answer the questions in any order, and each correct answer raises their cumulative amount of winnings to the next level (see table at right); after answering the fifth question correctly, they are guaranteed to leave with at least $25,000. If the player correctly answers the first ten questions, they are given the opportunity to answer a fifth-grade bonus question worth $1,000,000.

Five fifth graders (some of whom are also professional child actors)[11] appear on each show and play along on stage – in general, each episode in a season has the same cast of children. Prior to the show, the children are provided with workbooks which contain a variety of material, some of which could be used in the questions asked in the game.[12][13] The player chooses one to be their "classmate", who stands at the adjacent podium and is called upon for assistance in choosing a subject; the other four sit at desks off to the side. Each child acts as the classmate for at most two questions (done consecutively), after which another child is picked from those who have not yet played in that game.

Contestants have three forms of answer-assistance options (two cheats and a save), each available for use once per game (up to, but not including, the million dollar subject[14]):

  • Peek: The player is shown their classmate's answer and may choose whether to go along with it or not; however, they must answer the question upon using this cheat.
  • Copy: The player is locked into using their classmate's answer, without being able to see it first. If the classmate is correct, the contestant is correct and advances up the money ladder. If the classmate is incorrect, the contestant loses the game.
  • Save: If the player answers incorrectly but their classmate is correct, they are credited with a correct answer. This is used automatically on the contestant's first incorrect response. The player cannot use this cheat manually. Players could use this in tandem with the Peek to have two possible answers, theirs and their classmate's. (This cheat was removed in season 2 of the syndicated version.)

Once all three forms of assistance are used, the children no longer play an active role in the game.

If the contestant gets an answer wrong (and is not saved), they "flunk out", and lose all of their winnings — or drop to $25,000, if they surpassed the fifth question. They may choose to "drop out" at any point during the game (with the exception of the peek cheat noted above), which entitles them to leave the game with any winnings they have accumulated.

The rules change slightly for the million dollar subject. The player is only shown the subject of the question before deciding if they will continue or drop out. However, if they choose to see the question, they are no longer eligible to drop out and must answer the question, with no assistance from the classmates or cheats. A wrong answer on the question will cause the contestant to drop back down to $25,000.[14]

If the contestant wins the million, they will have the opportunity to declare to the camera "I am smarter than a 5th grader!" However, if at any point during the game the player drops out or flunks out, they must face the camera, state their name, and declare "I am not smarter than a 5th grader."

"Classroom Club" questions were introduced into the game at the beginning of the second season. These questions are written by elementary school students, who submit them via the show's Web site. When one is used, the school of the student who wrote it receives a computer lab, courtesy of the show. "Field Trip" questions, introduced in the third season, feature a video clip of a National Geographic Channel correspondent asking the question from an appropriate location somewhere in the world.


Each season, a new group of children are cast to appear as the "classmates" on the show.[15] Any child cast must be "smart, funny, and outgoing", and must actually be in grade 5 (age 9, 10 or 11) during the television season finales.[15]

Contestants who make it through the auditioning process are required to sign a one-year contract stating that they will not tell anybody how much money they make, and that they cannot tell or release any information about the actual auditioning process, such as the number of screening processes, the questions asked by the auditioners, and the actual credit for being accepted onto the show.

During every classmate's final appearance on the show ("Graduation Night"), each classmate receives a $25,000 savings bond.

Seat # Classmate
Season 1
(Feb–Aug 2007)
Season 2
(Sep 2007-Aug 2008)
Season 3
(Sep 2008–Sep 2009)
1 Laura Marano
Marki Ann Meyer1
Cody Lee Jonathan Cummings
2 Kyle Collier Mackenzie Holmes Jenna Balk
3 Jacob Hays Sierra McCormick Olivia Dellums
Kassidy Yeung3
4 Alana Etheridge Nathan Lazarus Bryce Cass
5 Spencer Martin Olivia Glowacki
Chandler Chaffee2
Francesca DeRosa

Note: The seat numbering represented here starts from the back left of the classroom and goes clockwise, from the viewer's perspective, with two in the back and three in the front.

  • 1 Meyer replaced Marano half-way through the first season.
  • 2 Chaffee subbed Glowacki for two episodes in season 2.
  • 3 Yeung filled in for Dellums in one episode of season 3.

Celebrity Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?

Beginning in season 2, many celebrities played the game and donated their winnings to the charity of their choice. Of these celebrities, most money won on game shows by one person in the United States.

Syndicated version

A half-hour daily syndicated of the show, also with Foxworthy as host, began airing on September 21, 2009. This version features a top prize of $250,000 and a tweaked format between the prime time version and the daytime version.

On March 24, 2011, the show was canceled along with [17]


Subject Question Value
Bonus Question 10× Earnings
5th Grade $5,000
4th Grade $3,500
3rd Grade $2,500
2nd Grade $1000
1st Grade $500

The game play for this version of 5th Grader is similar to the original Fox network version—games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer eight questions—plus one final 5th grade bonus question—with the assistance of one of three 5th grade classmates (instead of five on the network version), who vary each week. In addition, each classmate can be used for up to three questions (as opposed to two on the network version).

Contestants are required to attempt all questions, and do not flunk out simply by answering a question incorrectly, instead losing all money earned to that point. If a player has any money left after all questions are asked, they are given the choice to either drop out with the money earned, or answer a 5th-grade bonus question worth 10 times their earnings. The maximum winnings are $25,000 without the bonus question, and therefore $250,000 if it is answered correctly.

If the contestant answers the bonus question wrong, they lose everything, but if they had earned at least $2,500 before the bonus question, then they receive a consolation prize in the form of a $2,500 prepaid card. If they had earned less than $2,500, the value of the card is $250. On celebrity episodes, the consolation prizes are cash donations to the celebrity's favorite charity.

In Season 1, there are 10 regular questions before the bonus question. The 3rd grade questions are worth $2,500; 4th grade, $3,500; and 5th grade, $5,000.

Season 2 premiered on September 20, 2010. The game was shortened, with the fifth grade questions removed from the main game, reducing the number of questions to eight (plus the 5th-grade bonus question). To compensate, the 3rd and 4th grade questions were increased to $3,500 and $7,500 respectively. In addition, the "Save" was removed, and contestants were no longer allowed to skip to a higher-grade question before attempting at least one question from each lower grade.


  1. ^ Ward, Julia (2006-12-14). "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?".  
  2. ^ Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" gets extra credit with 13 additional episodes""" (Press release).   Via The Futon Critic.
  3. ^ "Fox announces primetime slate for 2007–2008 season" (Press release).   Via The Futon Critic.
  4. ^ "Class is in session twice a week when "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" airs on Thursdays and Fridays for four weeks this fall" (Press release).   Via The Futon Critic.
  5. ^ Pursell, Chris (2008-09-11). "'"Foxworthy Signs on for Syndie '5th Grader. TVWeek. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  6. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (November 6, 2014). "'"FOX Revives 'Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Bauder, David (2007-03-16). "'"Kids Outsmart Adults on '5th Grader.  
  8. ^ Boedeker, Hal (January 31, 2007). "Fox asks: Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?".  
  9. ^ "Fox Develops 'Smarter' Thursday Plan". Zap2it. 2007-01-31. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  10. ^ "Foxworthy Proves FOX-Worthy Host". Zap2it. 2007-02-09. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  11. ^ Elfman, Doug (March 8, 2007). "'"Smart kids caught in the act on '5th Grader.  
  12. ^ During the credits at the end of the show, a disclaimer states: "Members of the class were provided with workbooks that covered grade school level material in a variety of subjects. Some of the material could have formed the basis of questions used by producers in the show."
  13. ^ Farhi, Paul (2007-03-13). "Easy Does It".  
  14. ^ a b "Episode AYS-109". Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader. Season 1. Episode 09. 2007-04-19. Fox Broadcasting Company.
  15. ^ a b "Calling All Parents of Awesome 5th graders and up.". Fox News Radio. Archived from the original on 2007-05-10. Retrieved 5 January 2010. 
  16. ^ Gregory, Jason (November 10, 2008). "Kiss' Gene Simmons 'Smarter than a Fifth Grader". Gigwise. Retrieved July 31, 2014. 
  17. ^ Davis, Alex (March 24, 2011). Don’t Forget The Lyrics!" and "Fifth Grader" Cancelled""". Buzzerblog. Retrieved March 25, 2011. 

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