Only 1 in 3 U.S. citizens were able to pass the U.S. citizenship test in a 2018 national survey. That test just got much harder. Beginning December 1, 2020, applicants for U.S. citizenship now face a revised civics exam with new questions covering U.S. history and civics. Applicants must now answer twice as many questions correctly to pass.
The U.S. citizenship or naturalization test consists of two parts: the English language and U.S. civics. The English portion tests applicants’ ability to speak, read and write in the English language. Officers evaluate applicants’ ability to speak and understand English through the naturalization interview. The reading and writing portion consist of writing and reading a short sentence, such as “George Washington was the first President of the United States.”
U.S. Citizenship Test Questions
21 of the new and revised questions added by USCIS to the 2020 edition of the U.S. citizenship civics test are included in the quiz below. Test your knowledge about U.S. civics and see if you can answer every question. The possible responses deemed correct by USCIS are also included.
Changes to the Citizenship Test
There are a total of 128 potential questions that may be asked on the new naturalization test. Many of the questions on the prior civics test have been rewritten and their answers have changed. In addition, 28 new questions have been added that cover additional details about U.S. history and the American political system. On the old test, applicants could be asked up to a total of 10 questions, and to pass, they would need to answer 6 of them correctly.
Now, applicants will be asked 20 questions total. Applicants will have to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly, in order to pass.
The test is oral, and applicants must respond with the correct answer from memory.
Previously, the immigration officer would stop asking questions once an applicant answered enough correctly to achieve a passing score. Now, applicants will be asked the full 20 questions even if they have already answered the required number of questions to pass the test.
Exemptions and Special Considerations
For now, USCIS has announced that “will maintain its current guidelines for statutorily established special considerations for applicants who are 65 years old or older and have at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status.”
Applicants age 65 or older, and have held green cards for at least 20 years, will be asked 10 questions in total from a shorter list. They must answer 6 correctly to pass.
The new civics questions will apply to all citizenship exam-takers besides those in the Special Consideration category regardless of age.
Some individuals may qualify for a Medical Disability Exception, which can exempt applicants from having to take the civics test altogether. The USCIS website outlines the qualifications for exemption from the English language and civics requirements.
How to Prepare for the New Citizenship Test
The 2020 version of the civics test will only apply to those naturalization applicants with a filing date (received date) on or after December 1st of 2020. U.S. citizenship applicants who filed their applications before December 1st, 2020, will still be administered the 2008 version of the test.
USCIS has published study guides, flash cards, and all questions and answers to the new U.S. citizenship test on the USCIS website for free.
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|Joseph Alain Moro is an immigration lawyer and the owner of Moro Legal, LLC, a law practice founded in Denver, Colorado.|