Based on the TV show of the same name, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader is here to make you feel dumb. You’re welcome.
Its name doesn’t quite work in the UK, where our TV equivalent, hosted by Noel Edmonds, was canned more than a decade ago. (Man, we feel old.) The US version hasn’t aired since 2019 either, and other versions have since faced the chop – though it is still running in some regions. And so, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader doesn’t try to replicate an exact TV format; you won’t find familiar hosts here. Instead, it’s based on the TV franchise as a whole, bringing a game to life that should hopefully be accessible no matter where in the world you live.
And, actually, thanks to one key accessibility option, it does a rather good job of that. Not only is this one of the nicest-looking quiz games we’ve played, it has an option that we wish more games would have: the ability to turn off questions that rely on a knowledge of US culture. Sorry, America, but the world doesn’t start and end with you, and we’re fed up of constantly being asked about the history, culture and laws of a country we’ve only ever spent a few days in. It’s a shame that those questions can’t be replaced with culture questions of your own country – we appreciate that would be a lot of work for a global release – but we’ll take being able to take them out altogether as a win.
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader has two fictional hosts, and a group of colourful fifth graders to play alongside. The character models are lovely: this is a colourful game brought to life with wonderful animations. But it’s all very over-the-top, and you might find yourself hammering the ‘skip’ button all too often when all you want to do is get on with the questions. There’s a lot of exposition, and while it does give the game plenty of character, it can distract from the task at hand if you’re wanting to get down to some serious quizzing.
Because of the extra fluff, one game might have less than a dozen questions but it can take the best part of 30 minutes to get through. Longer, if you’re playing with more people. You can tackle Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader by yourself, but of course it’s more fun if you’re playing with others – up to eight people can play locally. Every question is multiple choice, and they cover a wide range of subjects.
As per the format of the TV series, questions start at a first grade level, gradually getting harder until you reach sixth grade. For each question, you can choose a category of your choice, with typical options being spelling, vocabulary, geography, history and life sciences. You also have three ‘lifelines’ to use, which can let you switch out a question, copy your accompanying 5th grader’s answer, or see how everyone in the class has answered. If you’re playing in the single-player mode, a wrong answer means game over. But in a multiplayer game, you’ll keep going, with your overall score dictating a winner.
Each time you play, your score will be added to a running total, which unlocks new classmates, outfits and desk decorations are you go. Yes, it’s all superfluous content but it’s nice to have something to work towards, even if it is just a different colour desk. Granted, some of the classmate outfits are fun, like a crazy scientist costume for the science-mad boy, or a Statue of Liberty get-up for the girl who excels in humanities.
Overall, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader is a charming quiz game based on a popular TV franchise. Its presentation is top-notch, though you may get bogged down in its unnecessary exposition if you’re the type of person who just wants to get straight on with the quizzing. Still, there’s a pleasant experience to be had here – and since it boasts almost 7,000 unique questions there’s dozens of hours of gameplay before you should even get a whiff of repetition.