In order for any eligible permanent resident to qualify for naturalization and legally become a U.S. citizen, they must pass a citizenship test.
So, what is the citizenship test that one must take? This two-part exam is administered in person by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. It’s a well-known fact that this exam is difficult, so preparation and knowing what to expect is key.
Luckily, we will go over everything you need to know so that you can feel confident when your exam day arrives.
What Is the Naturalization Test?
This citizenship test, known as the naturalization test, consists of two different components, including one’s ability to demonstrate the basic ability to speak, read and write in English while also proving knowledge of U.S. history and government structure.
What is the purpose of the naturalization test? Simply put, this exam tests each application’s knowledge and understanding of the United States. Here are more details regarding the two major components of the naturalization test.
What to Expect in the English Portion of This Test
When taking the U.S. citizenship English test, it’s further divided into an additional three parts, which include passing:
- A reading and speaking test: In order to pass this section of the exam, you will be allowed to choose one of three presented texts to read aloud. Typically, these sentences aren’t complex but contain important vocabulary words that you will need to understand. When speaking, it’s important to not pause often and pronounce the words correctly, trying to sound as fluent as possible.
- A writing test: To pass this subcategory of the English exam, you need to transcribe the sentence you chose to speak aloud. Here, you will need to know the definitions of any important vocabulary words that were in the sentence and need to demonstrate this with clear and legible writing.
However, it’s important to note that there are two naturalization exam English test exemptions. For example, you may be eligible to skip the English portion of this exam if:
- You are at least 50 years old or over and have been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for 20 years
- You are 55 years old or more and have been living in the country as a lawful permanent resident for 15 years
Suppose you fall under any of these two citizenship test exemption categories. In that case, you will be allowed only to complete the civics position of this exam in any language of your choosing.
What to Expect in the Civics Portion of This Test
This portion of the exam will gauge your understanding of U.S. history knowledge and government structure. USCIS will randomly select a few questions out of 100 possible options, and you will be asked to read each question aloud in English while answering the question correctly.
In order to pass, you must answer six of the 10 chosen questions correctly. All U.S. citizenship English test questions are online, meaning you are able to study all questions in advance. Some find that completing the self-tests online are beneficial, because the questions are randomly selected.
Some of the most common questions include information revolving around:
- The U.S. government: For example, you might be asked what the two main political parties in the U.S. are, or how often a new president is voted into office.
- U.S. history: A common question asked within this category usually is who was the first American president.
- The American flag: Here, your USCIS officer could ask how many stars are on the American flag and what they represent.
- The U.S. Constitution: An example of a question from this category could be about how many amendments are in the U.S. constitution?
- The U.S. court system: Questions about the court system are a bit more difficult, but an example of a question from this section could be about how many justices serve on the Supreme Court.
Comparing the 2008 vs. the 2020 Version of the Citizenship Test
The U.S. citizenship civics test has changed throughout the years. In 2008, applicants were asked to answer six out of 10 questions correctly, which were randomly selected from 100 possible questions. In order to pass, you would need to get at least a 60% on this part of the exam.
In 2020, these numbers increased. Instead of choosing six 10 questions from 100 possible questions, 12 questions were chosen out of 128. Luckily, in 2021, USCIS determined that this improved test is too difficult and, as a result, has moved back to the original citizenship test 2008 version.
Citizenship Test Preparation
Preparing for this test is imperative for every candidate due to the knowledge and skills required for a passing score. If you are wondering how to study for the U.S. citizenship test, there are countless free tools and resources that the U.S. government offers on its website.
Additionally, some choose to make their own materials. If this is something you are interested in, here are some things you could do yourself to better learn the material.
- Make vocabulary flashcards: By looking at the important vocabulary words you need to know, flashcards can be of great use.
- Study all possible U.S. citizenship civics test questions: All the questions you could be asked will be online. From here, you are able to study all 100 questions so that you are prepared to answer any 10 of the questions they ask.
- Brush up on your U.S. history: The more you know about U.S. history, the easier it will be to answer the questions in the civics portion of this exam. Knowing the rules of all government offices and any current political updates will also be helpful.
- Write in English often: When it comes to the U.S. citizenship writing test portion, you will need to write out one of three sentences correctly. To practice, you can write out everyday information in English to become comfortable with vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar.
Tips for Preparing for the Citizenship Test
While studying for the naturalization exam, there are a few valuable tips that you can follow, which include:
- Focus on specific things while studying: For example, it’s best to learn one section at a time and focus on that sole section. If there are sections you need to work on and need improvement on, stick to studying those sections until you’re comfortable with them. Additionally, it’s best to study when you are most alert and focused, making it easier to obtain the information.
- Practice: You’ve heard it all before; practice makes perfect. Take as many practice tests as you can. Doing so will ensure you can test under pressure and be ready for anything the USCIS officer asks of you.
- Speaking English regularly: The more you speak the language you will be asked to test in, the more comfortable you will be. Make an effort to listen to music or watch TV in English. And speak with as many people as you can to naturally speak the language when needed.
What Are the Most Common Questions for the U.S. Citizenship Test?
Here are the most common questions asked by participants regarding taking the U.S. citizenship English and Civics test portions.
What Is the Passing Score for the Citizenship Test?
When it comes to passing the U.S. citizenship test, your exam will be scored based on the two parts of this exam.
For the English portion of the exam, you will need to prove a basic understanding of English speaking, reading, and writing. If you can do so, the USCIS officer will pass you. For the civics questions, you must get a minimum of 60% to pass.
But what happens if you fail the citizenship test? Luckily, you are allowed to retake the test a second time. You will have to wait two to three additional months before retaking this exam, and the questions you will be tested on will be different.
As of now, there’s no limit on how many times one can retake the test. However, if you only fail a portion of the exam, it might not be necessary to retake the whale exam.
How Can I Take the Citizenship Test Online?
As of now, there isn’t an option for individuals to take the U.S. citizenship test online. Due to the necessity of the speaking and writing portions, a USCIS officer must administer this test in person.
How Much Does It Cost to Take the U.S. Citizenship Test?
Generally, the test to become a U.S. citizen costs around $640. If you’re looking at the whole picture, the total fee comes to $725 due to the extra $85 for the biometric fee. Luckily, you can pay this online through the U.S. government’s portal.
Putting Your Preparation to the Test
We know there’s a lot of information that needs to be digested when taking the naturalization exam. Countless tips and tricks can be found online, including study guides or interactive quizzes, but your best option to find out all the information you need is by reaching out to our professionals.
Luckily, ImmigrationDirect is here to answer any questions you may have regarding the English or Civics portions of the exam. Contact us today if you are beginning to prepare for this test.