In French, une question de cours, is a question in a test for which you just need to know the content of your course. It is an easy question (usually) which does not require any reflection.

  • "straight out of the book"?
    – Barmar
    Commented May 1, 2014 at 16:04
  • @Barmar: yes that's what it means. Commented May 2, 2014 at 12:40
  • The examples Google Ngram finds mostly seem to refer to copying things from a book, not the sense I used.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 14:32

4 Answers 4


One term used in English to identify questions (and answers) that rely entirely on memorization, rather than on logic or analysis, is rote. Thus for instance, in Adelbert Ford, A Scientific Approach to Labor Problems (1931), we have this illustration of rote questions [collection of snippets]:

Rote Question: Where is the fire blanket kept in your station?

Answer: In a glass case at the right side of the front door.

Logical Question: Why will a motor armature pass more current at slow speed than at full speed, voltage being constant?

Answer: Because impedance of a coil is due to the counter electromotive force generated by a changing magnetic field. With a slowly revolving armature the speed of magnetic change generates a weak counter electromotive force; with a rapidly revolving armature the magnetic field generates a powerful counter electromotive force and prevents as much current going through. (This answer could be memorized by rote, if the employee had been previously equipped with the same question and the same answer, a procedure which is not recommended.)

Rote Question: What voltage is carried on the Argo power line?

Answer: Twenty-four thousand volts. (Since power lines of several voltages are used in the company, the employee has no means available of computing the answer. He must memorize it.)

From an examination of the above questions it will be seen that they test an entirely different mental ability in men. There are actually men who are good on the logical questions but exceedingly poor on the rote questions...

The notion of rote questions and answers goes back well into the 1800s, as this critical discussion of them by Superintindent D. S. Burns of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in "Reports of City and Borough Superintendents," published in Reports of the Heads of Departments of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1873) indicates:

Some of our experienced teachers in the higher grades are doing good work in discarding, to a great extent, the trammels of the text-book. The old system of the rote question and answer that makes only parrots, is supplanted by work that makes thinkers, and the results are shown at examinations which disclose thought and culture that can come only from the living teacher, and it is the duty of the board to furnish teachers with any appliances and aids calculated to promote this kind of work.

Originally rote learning referred to a system of actual and exact spoken repetition of the words from the textbook or teacher, but today a rote question would (I think) generally be understood to refer to something closely akin to une question de cours.


You really should know the answer as "a matter of course" or "off the top of your head."

The question address material that you know "like the back of your hand."


I've never heard a term for the question itself, but the general concept is sometimes called read and regurgitate.

If I needed a term for the question itself, I'd probably use no-brainer, but that's much more general: it applies to any question or decision that requires no thought (regardless of why).


In my bilingual school for my european baccalaureate, and from experience being english and french, I believe that it's a "simple question" "question on the curriculum (content)" "part of the course" "fact of the matter question"... fact of the matter is fairly suitable because, it describes simplicity and is "un faite relatif au sujet" which is a logical semantic in French too.

We didn't have "question de cours" in our school in the french section / taught subjects. only "question simple" which described all the simple factual questions. "question qui demande de la reflexion" as all questions were presumed to be relevant to the course, that is why they were questions asked in course tests.

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