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Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

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Jeff Foxworthy
Mark Thompson
Network (FOX)
Syndicated/CMT/MyNetworkTv: 9/21/2009-5/20/2011
Mark Burnett Productions/One Three Media/Zoo Productions (2007-2011)
United Artists Media Group (2015-)
20th Television

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is the big money quiz show where contestants answered questions from school-related subjects, sometimes with the help of a 5th grade "classmate".

Gameplay (FOX Versions)Edit

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 (with their podium turning green) 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 (sixth-grade in the 2015 revival) worth $1,000,000.

Five fifth graders (some of whom are also professional child actors) 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. 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." 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.

Answer-Assistance OptionsEdit

Contestants have three forms of answer-assistance options (two cheats and a save), each available for use once per game:

  • 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. In the second season, the podium turns yellow rather than red when a contestant decided to use the Peek. Now, the podium for locked in answers is blue.
  • Copy: The player is locked into using their classmate's answer, without being able to see it first. In the original run, this would be the answer first written by the classmates. In the 2015 revival, the five classmates have a brief conference to discuss what the correct answer may be, and the classmate in control has the option to keep their original answer or change it and write down a new one.
  • Save: If the player answers incorrectly but their classmate is correct, they are credited with a correct answer. The save cannot be invoked by the contestant; it is used automatically on the contestant's first incorrect response.

Once all three forms of assistance are used, or after a contestant answers the $500,000 question correctly, the children no longer play an active role in the game. However, they do provide secret answers to be used for dramatic effect.

If the contestant gets an answer wrong (and is not saved, which in this case the podium turns red), they flunk out, and lose all of their winnings (or drop to $25,000, if they had surpassed the fifth question). In addition, they may choose to drop out at any point during the initial 10 questions, which entitles them to leave the game with any winnings they have accumulated to that point.

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 the use of any remaining cheats. A wrong answer on the question will cause the contestant to drop back down to $25,000.

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." However, if the contestant wins the million, they will have the opportunity to declare to the camera "I am smarter than a fifth grader!"

"Classroom Club" questions were introduced into the game at the beginning of the second season. These are chosen from questions written by elementary school students, submitted 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. In the 2015 revival, the classmates have a "profile page" that may be shown on the main screen which shows the child's best subjects and some personal information (favorite celebrities, activities, etc.).


Occasionally, celebrities will be asked to play for charity on the show. The following celebrities have all appeared on the show to win money for charity, with the exception of former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings and Nobel Prize winner George Smoot, both of whom were playing on their own behalf. Jennings's stint on the show, where he won $500,000 and passed on the opportunity to play for the million, helped propel him back into the lead for the most money won on game shows by one person in the United States.

Season 2

Celebrity Amount Won
Clay Aiken $300,000
Regis Philbin $175,000
Tony Hawk $175,000
Billy Bush $25,000
Lauren Nelson $175,000
Kellie Pickler $50,000

Season 3

Celebrity Amount Won
Kathy Ireland $25,000
Ken Jennings $500,000
Deborah Norville $100,000
Rick Fox $25,000
Gene Simmons $500,000
Jennie Garth $100,000
Joey Chestnut $300,000
Larry the Cable Guy $300,000
Star Jones $175,000
Jack Hanna $25,000
Sugar Ray Leonard $100,000
Bill Goldberg $175,000
Dean Cain $300,000
Bethany Hamilton $50,000
George Smoot $1,000,000


Each season, a new group of children are cast to appear as the "classmates" on the show. 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.

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 will not release any information about the actual auditioning process, such as the number of screenings, the questions asked by the auditioners, and the actual criteria for being accepted onto the show. However, most of the children are already well established actors.

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

Season 1's class (February 2007-August 2007)

Seat # Classmate
1 Laura Marano
2 Kyle Collier
3 Jacob Hays
4 Alana Etheridge
5 Spencer Martin
Fill-In Marki Ann Meyer1
  • Note 1: Meyer replaced Marano half-way through the season.

Season 2's class (September 2007-August 2008)

Seat # Classmate
1 Cody Lee
2 Mackenzie Holmes
3 Sierra McCormick
4 Nathan Lazarus
5 Olivia Glowacki
Fill-In Chandler Chaffee1
Mystery Desk Brody Lee
  • Note 1: Chaffee subbed Glowacki for two episodes.

Season 3's class (September 2008–September 2009)

Seat # Classmate
1 Jonathan Cummings
2 Jenna Balk
3 Olivia Dellums
4 Bryce Cass
5 Francesca DeRosa
Fill-In Kassidy Yeung1
  • Note 1: Yeung filled in for Dellums in one episode.

Season 4's class (May 2015-current)

  • NOTE: For the 2015 revival, a regular set of 6 classmates is used, with their usage and positions at the five desks rotated for each episode.
Simmons "Tres" Allison III
Reagan Strange
Lauren Bullock
Mason Davis
Dee DuBois
Angela Azar

Gameplay (Syndicated Version)Edit


1st Season

1st Subject

2nd Subject Question Value
5th Grade 5th Grade $5,000
4th Grade 4th Grade $3,500
3rd Grade 3rd Grade $2,500
2nd Grade 2nd Grade $1,000
1st Grade 1st Grade $500

2nd Season

1st Subject 2nd Subject Question Value
4th Grade 4th Grade $7,500
3rd Grade 3rd Grade $3,500
2nd Grade 2nd Grade $1,000
1st Grade 1st Grade $500


The gameplay for this version of 5th Grader is the same as the above—games are played by a single contestant, who attempts to answer ten questions—plus one final bonus question—with the assistance of one of three 5th grade classmates (instead of five on the network show), who vary each week, and each child acts as the "classmate" for at most three questions (instead of two on the network show).

Contestants are required to attempt all 10 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 the ten questions are asked, they are given the choice to either drop out with the money earned, or answer a fifth-grade bonus question worth 10 times their earnings, to a maximum of $250,000. The money ladder for the syndicated version assigns dollar values per grade instead of for each correct question, regardless of grade.

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

Upon losing the game, dropping out, or answering the bonus question correctly but not winning the full $250,000, the contestant must face the camera, state their name, and declare, "I am not smarter than a 5th grader." However, if the contestant does win the full $250,000, they state, "I am smarter than a 5th grader."

When season 2 premiered on September 20, 2010, the game has been shortened; the fifth grade questions are removed from the main game, and only used for the Bonus Question. To compensate, the fourth grade questions have increased to $7,500, as well as the 3rd grade questions increasing to $3,500. In addition, the "Save" has been removed. In addition, players cannot attempt a higher-grade question until they have answered at least one lower-grade question.

Bonus Question 10x WinnersEdit

Michael Waltrip: $30,000 (MNT 10/6/09)
Meagan Sharp: $30,000 (CMT 10/7/09)
Gail DiCosta: $160,000 (SYN 9/23/10 | CMT 1/14/11)
Joe Nicols: $125,000 (CMT 9/23/10)
Johnathan Lee Iverson: $75,000 (SYN 10/4/10)
Michele Williams: $125,000 (CMT 10/7/10)
Amber Morris: $15,000 (SYN 10/21/10)
Regina Waring: $50,000 (CMT 11/3/10)

$250,000 WinnersEdit

Elizabeth Miller (SYN 10/19/09)
Geoff Wolinetz (MNT 11/3/09 | SYN 11/17/09)


David Vanacore

Theme LyricsEdit

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?
'Cause there's gonna be a test later.
Meet your teacher, now we're back in school,
Are you smarter than you used to be?

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?
Grab a pencil and a piece of paper.
Meet your teacher, now we're back in school,
So, are you smart enough for the 5th grade?


Main Article: Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?/Merchandise

International VersionsEdit

The Countries that did their versions of 5th Grader include:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium (both Dutch & French languages)
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada (both English & French languages)
  • Cambodia
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vietnam

In Popular CultureEdit

  • Are You Smarter than a 5th grader was given homage on Sesame Street as "Are You Smarter than an Egg Layer?" hosted by Jeff Bawksworthy (parody of Jeff Foxworthy). Instead of students, in the class, there are chickens in place of the human students. The contestant wins the grand prize, which she thinks is "one million bucks," however it turns out that she wins one million BAWKS. The cast of Sesame Street served as Jeff's co-host during one week of shows.
  • 5th Grader was also parodized on MAD TV as "Are you smarter than a tranny hooker?".


  • Laura Marano and Sierra McCormick would later appear on Disney Channel as the co-stars of their respective shows (Austin & Ally and ANT Farm). Madison Pettis was another Disney Channel star who appeared on the show.
  • The 2015 revival of the series was a replacement for the short-lived 2014 reality series Utopia.


Mark Burnett


FOX 2007-09 version (via Internet Archive)
Syndicated version (via Internet Archive)
FOX 2015-present version (Official site)

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