Immigrants moving beyond their legal residency status to pursue naturalization become part of an elite group of foreign-born individuals who become American citizens. Successfully undertaking the naturalization journey involves understanding and planning for the process as a whole, including the U.S.citizenship test and interview.
The citizenship test and interview, arguably the most daunting steps on the naturalization path, can become much less intimidating with preparation. By accessing professional guidance in form filing as well as making use of a wide swath of study materials– including practice tests– and gaining an understanding of testing success metrics, anxiety levels remain manageable.
U.S.citizenship testing covers an applicant’s ability to communicate in English as well as an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history. Some of the testing occurs through an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer.
English Language Testing
The English language portion of the citizenship test consists of three components: reading, writing and speaking. USCIS officers interviewing naturalization applicants conduct the spoken English portion of the test by asking candidates about their background, and by requesting supporting evidence. To assess an applicant’s ability to read English, requirements call for a correct reading of 1 out of 3 sentences. Similarly, the writing portion requires 1 sentence out of 3 to be correctly written. Officers also inquire about an applicant’s residence, character, attachment to the U.S. Constitution and willingness to take an Oath of Allegiance.
Because officers assess a candidate’s ability to speak English during the eligibility interview, much of the conversation is based on information provided on the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Importantly, applicants must be prepared to provide explanations for any discrepancies between application answers and supporting documents– a change of address, for example. In the same way, topics like travel outside the United States might require additional information.
Passing the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test typically requires correctly answering 6 out of 10 questions regarding U.S. history and / or contemporary people and events. Officers choose the civics U.S. citizenship test questions from a list of 100 possible questions.
USCIS provides a range of study tools to help ensure applicants find success in their naturalization efforts. These include flashcards, study booklets and practice tests. With these, applicants study vocabulary and concepts and have an opportunity to review U.S. citizenship test questions and answers.
Other available resources include free naturalization information sessions as well as citizenship.
Failing the Test
Not everyone passes the U.S. citizenship test the first time around. USCIS gives applicants 2 opportunities each for the English and civics portions of the test and to answer all naturalization application questions in English. When applicants fail on any portion of the test, USCIS allows retesting of the relevant section between 60 and 90 days from the date of the interview.