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Why U.S. civics questions are part of the naturalization test

While people who are born and educated in the United States typically have the advantage of years of schooling to learn what it means to be a citizen, immigrants may not have had the opportunity to study U.S. civics. However, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this is something they must familiarize themselves with in order to pass the naturalization test.   

The federal government started requiring immigrants to learn about the Constitution in the early 1900s. At that time, it was determined that they needed to demonstrate some basic knowledge of and regard for the principles of this document before they could become U.S. citizens. Since then, the naturalization test has been revised to provide a more consistent and beneficial experience for those who take it.

PRI.org reports that representatives of the USCIS want immigrants to learn what it means to become a U.S. citizen while studying the resources they have provided. So, although there are only six questions asked, there are 100 questions and answers included in the materials recommended for preparation. The goal is not to provide questions and answers to memorize, but to create an educational situation that prepares people to fulfill the rights and responsibilities that are a part of citizenship in this country.

Some point to the fact that most people pass the test as an indication that it fulfills its purpose. They claim that while the information itself may not be retained, the most important thing is that those new citizens have integrated the underlying concepts of what it means to be an American.

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