Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, oh, wait...

posted by Jason Kottke Jul 04, 2002

Can you list the 50 U.S. states in 15 minutes? I've always wanted to try that game and when Cameron posted about it on his site, I gave it a go. It took pretty much the full 15 minutes, but I got them all. Were you able to do it? (And no cheating!)

Reader comments

tamimJul 04, 2002 at 10:54PM

46 in 11 minutes. Typed in Excel. Which ones did I miss? I can't think of the other four.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

tamimJul 04, 2002 at 11:09PM

Just for good measure, all parts of UK in 42 seconds: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, island of man, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar. [I don’t know if I missed any.]

GregJul 04, 2002 at 11:11PM

You're looking for: Colorado, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Wisconsin.

I got through all 50 in six minutes, two of those was spent trying to remember Maryland. Doh!

tamimJul 04, 2002 at 11:16PM

Greg, I bow to your uber state-name-sKiLLz.

r mcmahonJul 05, 2002 at 12:38AM

I forgot Delaware, and New Jersey. I don't know why I missed Delaware, but I'm pretty sure that in my mind, New Jersey doesn't exist. And my friend from New Jersey? She's really the queen of France.

g chengJul 05, 2002 at 1:16AM

got all 50 in 5 minutes. My strategy was going around the U.S. somewhat geographically from west to east . Connecticut was the last on my list. Of course, I'm not a U.S. native but went through the U.S. public education system. Does that still count?

kirstyJul 05, 2002 at 1:52AM

I played this in the pub with my family a while ago and it took us about an hour to get 49 out of 50 (we're not American so we didn't think that was too bad), interestingly it was Maryland that foxed us too.

tamim: you definitely need the Channel Islands in that list and if you're going to include the Falklands and Gibraltar then you need the other 11 of the UK's overseas territories too.

Eric ScheidJul 05, 2002 at 3:53AM

and then there are the oddities like Sealand

tgenterJul 05, 2002 at 6:11AM

eric: but sealand ( http://www.sealandgov.com/ ) isn't uk, is it?

staceyJul 05, 2002 at 6:51AM

in the fourth grade, i learned a song which lists the states alphabetically, so i can recite them as fast as i can sing it. knowing that song has come in handy many times.

davidJul 05, 2002 at 7:11AM

i got 32 in the first 3 minutes, but finished only with 44. man!

ahhgrrJul 05, 2002 at 7:25AM

50 in 4 minutes and a bunch of seconds. I like, rock, and stuff.

Although in the past, I've utterly and completely ignored the existence of Utah.

CoryJul 05, 2002 at 7:54AM

Stacey, I also have the same wonderful skill you have...and recited them in 22 seconds. I found myself belting out a heartfelt Wy-ooo-ming to top it off. If only I could remember important things.

JasonJul 05, 2002 at 8:05AM

Fuckin' Vermont!!!

greg dot orgJul 05, 2002 at 8:18AM

That song, which was also burned into my head during the Bicentennial, turns out to have been written by Ray Charles (not THE Ray Charles as it turns out, which shouldn't be a surprise, considering the lyrics).

The link below has RA clips as well as a CD (!)

LilyJul 05, 2002 at 8:28AM

I think you forgot Nunavut.

J. Luke SeemannJul 05, 2002 at 8:58AM

Seven minutes, including time to scribble, count and recount. Maryland was the elusive 50th for me, too, and I've even lived there.

AnilJul 05, 2002 at 9:10AM

Whenever I list the U.S. states I always forget to name Canada, the 51st state.

danJul 05, 2002 at 9:37AM

What are the song-singing folks going to do if Puerto Rico becomes a state or if the Kentucky population gets drunk on the 4th of July and blows up the state? Will Ray Charles have to release a modified version?

JeffJul 05, 2002 at 9:52AM

I think you have it the switched around, Anil. The US is the 13th Province/Territory.

davidmscJul 05, 2002 at 10:04AM

Took 9 minutes; the one that kept slipping my mind, and took about 2 minutes to remember, was Washington--d'oh. Being a military person (and military brat) probably helped me quite a bit. Like others, I primarily did an north/south and east/west journey to come up with them all.

GKJul 05, 2002 at 10:40AM

When I was in sixth grade I had a teacher who was a geography nut and thought it a travesty if US children couldn't name all 50 states, so she grilled us constantly. Now I can rattle them off in pretty short order, but I still can't remember where I put the damn car keys.

JeffJul 05, 2002 at 12:18PM

I got all 50 in 23 seconds. But I majored in Geography, so I feel like I should have been able to finish quicker. Practice, practice...

shaneJul 05, 2002 at 12:47PM

I saw this on an episode of Friends a while back. I think they had to name them all in thirteen minutes. By the end of the show, Ross was still trying, and resorted to doubting the existence of a 50th state (I think it was NY he couldn't get...). When i tried, i couldn't get them all, and was nearly driven insane, not having an atlas (or an internet) handy.

ElaineJul 05, 2002 at 12:50PM

I missed four: Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey - did the cross-country west-to-east & north-to-south. (which I think is why I missed Hawaii & Alaska. duh.)

but I got them all in about one minute, and didn't stop to think about the missing four.

I used to know all the names of the Mexican states, too - 3 years of HS Spanish in So. Cal - but those are long gone, alas. except for Chihuahua, Baha California, and the Districto Federal. (frighteningly, I imagine that a little concentrated thought & a map might get me a bit further, and that was 10 years ago, and I've never even *been* to Mexico.)

jonathanJul 05, 2002 at 1:28PM

49 in 6 minutes, Vermont 5 minutes later.

timoJul 05, 2002 at 2:08PM

Wisconsin and Rhode Island were hard, but I finally got it. How about trying to draw the map in under 15 minutes?

rafterJul 05, 2002 at 3:06PM

This is totally off topic but I had no idea where else to post it (and didn't feel up to bothering you with an e-mail for one reader's opinion): I liked when you had headlines dividing the days. All these new functionality/design tweaks due to the Movable Type switch are great, except for the lack of division between days. Maybe it's just because I'm a site skimmer rather than a sight reader, but I personally get kind of confused reading the posts on your front page now. To me, the date of the post is just as important as the post's title, but your wee little gray letters are hard for me to find (and keep track of) even when I'm looking for them.

JackJul 05, 2002 at 3:50PM

49 states in eight minutes (with pen and paper), and after about five more minutes of brow-furrowing, I gave in. Iowa! Stupid Iowa!

lithisJul 05, 2002 at 4:27PM

Took me 10 minutes. Not too bad, not too good.

CindyJul 05, 2002 at 4:54PM

Another vote for getting all of them quickly, then thinking and thinking to finally get "Connecticut". It's sort of embarrassing to admit that I had to run through famous colleges in my head to think up the last few states. (As a Harvard alum, I guess it's natural that I thought of Yale last.)

MattJul 05, 2002 at 5:07PM

All 50 in just under 9 minutes, though I spent the last 3 minutes or so trying to think of Nevada, which is weird because it wasn't that long ago that I went to Las Vegas. I just wonder why so many people had trouble with Maryland ... maybe because it sounds more like a country than a state?

BjornJul 05, 2002 at 5:56PM

Took me three seconds, and that was only because I stuttered.

cleverevansJul 05, 2002 at 6:20PM

I played this game with my brother in law once, but we only had ten minutes. I got 49 and he got 48, ha!!

Damn that Wisconsin... Sneaky little bugger.

matthewJul 05, 2002 at 6:39PM

BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, New Foundland, Nunavut, P.E.I, Nova Scotia, Yukon, NWT.


Pete CooperJul 05, 2002 at 7:45PM

I'm a Brit, but I pride myself on my US geography so I enjoyed this. Didn't hit the 50. I got 37 down in just under 3 minutes, but then I *really* struggled. I made 46 at the 15 minute mark.

I missed New Jersey, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. I totally forgot about the first three, but at the end I was screaming, WHAT STATE IS ST LOUIS IN?? ARGH!!

Fun game.

sjcJul 05, 2002 at 8:22PM

Funny how a lot of people got a lot out of the gate right away and then just blanked. I hit 47 in 3 minutes, and then spent the rest of the time stumped. Finally I caved in. Damn you, Iowa, Nevada, and Mississippi! Damn you to hell!

beckersJul 05, 2002 at 9:14PM

You missed Arkansas, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. For the record, I can name them all in less than 3 minutes. Go me.

beckersJul 05, 2002 at 9:15PM

Make that less than 1 minute. I just timed myself. And they said elementary school music was useless...

beckersJul 05, 2002 at 9:16PM

Crudmonkeys on a stick, I was looking at this backwards... Sorry for pointing out the obvious on the missing states.

NinaJul 06, 2002 at 1:41AM

Like Stacey I also learned the alphabetical song of the states in 4th or 5th grade, so I ended up naming all 50 in about 4 minutes. I had the first 49 down in about a minute and a half, but it took me little longer to realize that New hampshire had eluded me.
But really, is New Hampshire such a loss? ;)

A harder game is to see how many of the state capitols you can name. No time limit is required to make this one interesting, it's hard enough as it is.

AleksiJul 06, 2002 at 4:17AM

Got some 40 states in 5 minutes or so, and in the end couldn't get more than 45. Illinois? Idaho? Nevada? New Hampshire? Ver-goddamn-mont? Still, not bad for someone who's never even been on that side of the Atlantic, methinks.

JohnJul 06, 2002 at 5:17AM

I was the same as Aleksi. The first 40 or so were cake, and I thought this was going to be the easiest test ever. Ended up with 49, somehow completely forgetting that Indiana exists.

matthewJul 06, 2002 at 7:42AM

Nunavut was formed (I believe) in 1996. It makes the Northwest Territories split into the bigger existing NWT and now the smaller Nunavut.

It's just another province, baby!

BenjyJul 06, 2002 at 8:27AM

I did it in about 3-4 minutes. flew through it as fast as I could write until I got to 48. Took an extra minute to remember Kansas and then another minute or so for Louisiana.

emmaJul 06, 2002 at 7:46PM

I forgot Georgia, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado (despite the fact that my cousin went to Colorado College). I'm a failure as a human being.

RichardJul 06, 2002 at 11:27PM

I think we need to reduce the number of states. I'd like to start by suggesting Florida be cut off the mainland with canal and they can then duke it out with Cuba to become "Breater Cuba". Next, I'd like for New England to secede from the Union. Let Tesax go back to being their own Republic (it's really best for evryone that way), Hawaii and Alaska should go their own way of course. One concession: we can finally split California in two, so what's that now? 41 states?

AloysiusJul 07, 2002 at 12:56AM

it took me 11 min., mi ma md last, wateva'

DKJul 07, 2002 at 5:17AM

all 50 states in about 90 seconds (I can't write that fast

I'm not kidding.

The secret. I still remember the song 50 Nifty United States from 5th grade. Ask me if you see me on the street, I will be glad to sing it for you.

dong resinJul 07, 2002 at 8:55AM

I never learned to read.

RichardJul 07, 2002 at 1:19PM

matthew: Nunavut is not a province, but rather a territory of Canada (as are NWT and Yukon). Territories have different constitutional rights than do provinces (i.e. less rights).

And Jeff: the U.S. is the 14th Canadian province/territory, not 13th.

matthewJul 07, 2002 at 6:47PM

richard: boo yea.

honestly, i never ready anywhere if it was a province or territory. thanks for clearin' it up!

my canadian geography may now rest in peace.

DavidJul 08, 2002 at 6:56AM

I got 50 in about 12 minutes, and I made my list by postal service state abbreviations to boot:


jkottkeJul 08, 2002 at 7:03AM

I got stuck at 48 after a few minutes and finally came up with Louisiana and Wyoming.

I wonder how many countries people could name? (That's probably an entirely different thread.)

MegJul 08, 2002 at 8:10AM

I managed 48 in six minutes, but completely blanked out Georgia or Utah. Bugger.

I recently witnessed the 9-year-old daughter of a friend naming most of the countries of the world in under two minutes, to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance. It's from the Animaniacs, apparently (though she admitted at the end that Yakko left a few out.)

Apparently, they can help with the State Capitols, too...

I'd like to see someone doing all the counties and districts of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in eight minutes, though.

DianaJul 08, 2002 at 8:27AM

41 in 3 minutes. I'm very proud of myself.

markJul 08, 2002 at 9:20AM

I only got 8 and two of them were "Takoma". Is that bad?

But seriously, I got all 50, but I was stuck at 48 for almost the whole time. The two I finally remembered: Delaware and Massachusetts (where I've lived my whole life -- I'm a moron).

beckyJul 08, 2002 at 10:42AM

managed 45 in four minutes, then got two more (Lousisana and Mississippi) in three more minutes...then blanked on Delaware, Wyoming and New Hampshire! D'oh! Fun!

GertJul 08, 2002 at 11:37AM

Maryland is hard because you keep thinking DC doesn't count, and Maryland is a suburb of DC.

This does not explain my problem with Kentucky, a state I was invited to just last week.

AndrewJul 08, 2002 at 12:04PM

Got all of them except New Jersey in less than 10 minutes.

AndrewRJul 08, 2002 at 12:13PM

damn you Wisconsin & Michigan! 48 in 2 min spoiled by those two...

Susan DigbyJul 08, 2002 at 12:37PM

A side note: why do *so* many people write "state capitols" when referring to cities, e.g. "Sacramento is the state capitol of California"? The cities are CAPITALS, and the buildings with the gold domes are CAPITOLS. I see this *everywhere*. Amazing!

steveJul 08, 2002 at 1:13PM

49 in 5 minutes. Utah was 49. Took me a couple more minutes to remember Oklahoma. 7:15 total. And this is writing them down on paper in rows of ten. I blame National Geographic magazine.

sethJul 08, 2002 at 1:46PM

48 in 3 minutes... New Jersey and Illinois are what got me, but I'm only really counting Illinois.

TinaJul 08, 2002 at 2:21PM

Ahhhhh..I did this test for myseld waaaaaaaay back when my son was learning, becasue I was good in Geography way back in the day when they actually taught it.

I got all of the states...but how about adding a kicker..........

Name the *capitals* of all of those states!!

(And then how about all of the Canadian Provinces and Territories?)

Or how about the 5 Great Lakes?......hmmm.......now that I've mentioned that one I'm going to have to sit right here and do it.


Sad thing is.....my son entering his senoir year has never been taught *true* Geography. He has no idea *where* the Great Lakes are...never mind *what* they are.

Why don't they teach this stuff anymore?

matthewJul 08, 2002 at 3:07PM

the great lakes, just think of the huge palm tree in the center of north america ;)

don't forget skank clair (st. clair). and it's erie, by the way.. yay ontarians! :)

jennJul 08, 2002 at 3:25PM

Got 49 in the first few minutes -- but then I couldn't remember #50. Wisconsin...why aren't you more memorable. I even tried making a visual map, but somehow over looked WI.

NicoJul 08, 2002 at 6:04PM

Is it possible that you all forgot the 51st state: Germany?

timJul 08, 2002 at 8:39PM

4 minutes & change.
helps to have a map in yer head! ;)

mathowieJul 08, 2002 at 10:35PM

Got 47 in three minutes, took 5 more minutes to get to 49, but I couldn't get last one.

Damn you Wyoming, you're one of the only 10 or states I've been to, and I forgot you.

michaelbuffingtonJul 08, 2002 at 10:43PM

I came up with four in as many seconds, and thought I was the supreme king of knowledge of states and the speed of naming such states, but, as I'm accustomed to, realized I got the assignment wrong. Liquid, Solid, Gas, and Plasma are not, I repeat with emphasis, not US States.

SmackfuJul 09, 2002 at 11:07AM

Damn you Arkansas!

kafkaesqueJul 09, 2002 at 11:39AM

I can get them all in about three minutes. This is because, when I was a kid in grade school we had this crazy music teacher who made us memorize a song called Fifty Nifty United States. I'm not kidding.

It's a very traumatic memory. She looked like Mr Heat Miser and she was dangerously patriotic, like she had a partiotism ray that would shoot out of her eyes and cover you in red, white and blue sequins.

bmJul 09, 2002 at 3:10PM

Great Lakes = HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

CHrisJul 09, 2002 at 3:28PM

I got through 49 of them in 12 minutes and then noticed that I had Vermont twice. New Jersy and Kentucky were the missing two for me. Strike them from the flag.

natJul 09, 2002 at 4:24PM

woohoo! 3 minutes!

Rich KottkeJul 10, 2002 at 10:12AM

Got all 50 in six minutes. Took 2 minutes to remember Arizona and Nevada. Not much out there, anyway, except for nuclear waste dumps.

ElectrinJul 10, 2002 at 11:07AM

Finished naming major cities in my homeland of Singapore in 0.25 seconds.

1. Singapore.

DavidJul 10, 2002 at 1:29PM

When I was in grade school there was a huge map of the U.S. painted on one of the school parking lots. During recess we would play "states tag." The person who was "it" would call out the name of a state, and the players would have to run to that state without getting tagged. Rhode Island was dangerous because it was hard for everyone to keep a toe on it simultaneously.

I think only the nerds played this game.

melisJul 10, 2002 at 6:02PM

Hmmm... I gave up after 4 minutes and 43 states. I forgot those little ones up in the North Atlantic. Probably because it's the one place I haven't visited. I would have got them though... really!

kateJul 10, 2002 at 11:55PM

I am Australian but lived in US for two years as a kid. I used to know all the states, the capitals and the baseball teams.... 4 minutes to get 44, then went back to kottke.org to cheat. Found 4 more but two are missing in action. I think US state names are much more creative than Australian state names: how does South Australia thrill you? At least we only have 7 states to remember...

paulJul 11, 2002 at 4:47PM

2.5 minutes to get 49. Damn you, Indiana!!!

kyotonilsJul 12, 2002 at 9:49AM

I got 49 in 5 minutes with map in my head, and Iowa took me to the 13 minute mark. Iowa is not on the map in my head, I guess.

OntarianJul 06, 2003 at 10:22PM

Ontario might as well be the 51st state. Representation in Washington, D.C., freedom to live, work and play anywhere in the country, and oh yeah REAL money! :)

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.