Immigrants pay hundreds of dollars to take. They spend weeks preparing for the U.S.citizenship test . But what precise purpose does it serve? And should it be revamped?
Some argue that it’s purely symbolic and carries little lasting value.
Paula Winke, a professor at Michigan State University, is one of those people. She is quite critical of the test. One of her main points includes the almost perfect pass rate of the exam — since it is so important, most immigrants ensure they are completely prepared for it by taking courses and studying up hard.
A few years ago, USCIS tried to make the test more conceptual-based than something that could be passed with mere memorization. But they seem to not have changed much.
Winke also critiques the obscure nature of some of the questions, which can include relatively unknown facts, like who wrote the Federalist Papers. She argues that if U.S. citizens would generally not know the answer to this question, why should immigrants?
USCIS spokesman Daniel Cosgrove says that preparing for the exam gives immigrants special and meaningful context for the questions.
According to Cosgrove, “The study materials … prepare applicants for a life of engaged citizenship, not [just] to pass a test.”
The USCIS has also announced that it will allocate $9.9 million in funding to improve test courses as well.
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