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What is the U.S. citizenship test like?

In our Jan. 29 blog post on the requirements for becoming a U.S. citizen, we mentioned that applicants must take and pass a naturalization test. The testing covers both literacy and knowledge of U.S. civics, meaning how government works and U.S. history.

For the civics test, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services selects 10 questions to ask applicants out of 100 possible questions. Topics include Principles of American Democracy, System of Government, Rights and Responsibilities, Colonial Period and Independence, 1800s and Recent American History.

Obviously, the questions can cover a broad range of topics, but someone with a fair solid grasp of U.S. history and civics should be able to do well. The test is generally conducted in English, and the test taker must answer at least six correctly to pass.

The literacy exam tests your ability to read, write and speak in English. A USCIS officer evaluates your speaking ability during your eligibility interview. Reading ability is tested by having the applicant read three sentences, with a requirement of reading one correctly to pass. Finally, you must write one of three sentences correctly to pass that portion.

Here are a couple of sample questions from a civics test study guide provided by USCIS. See how well you do:

  • What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? (Answer: the Senate and the House of Representatives)
  • Who is the Commander in Chief of the military? (Answer: the President)
  • Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States. (Answer: the Missouri or the Mississippi rivers)
  • What did Susan B. Anthony do? (Answer: fought for women’s rights or fought for civil rights)

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