Preparing for the Citizenship Test
Every year, green card holders across America choose to take a monumental step forward – they decide to seek naturalization. In the United States (U.S.), naturalized citizens have many rights and protections. In fact, with very few exceptions, their rights mirror those of natural-born citizens. While acquiring naturalized citizenship is a smart step forward for permanent residents, the process can be daunting, especially certain aspects like the citizenship test.
The naturalization process includes several steps. First, you must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Once submitted, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review and process your application. Eventually, the USCIS will notify you that it is time to schedule your naturalization interview. The naturalization interview is very important – you will discuss your background and your application with a government officer.
When Do You Take the Citizenship Test?
The USCIS oversees the citizenship test, which candidates complete on the same day as their naturalization interview. As discussed, when applying for naturalized citizenship, applicants must participate in an interview with a citizenship officer. The officer will review your qualifications and the information provided on Form N-400. This will help them determine if you are eligible for naturalization.
Components of the Citizenship Test
During this appointment, you will also take the citizenship test, which includes two main sections – English capability and civic knowledge. The English test includes speaking, reading, and writing proficiency. On the other hand, the civics portion of the test is meant to gauge your understanding of U.S. history, government, and political structure.
The naturalization officer leading your interview will determine your English speaking fluency by talking with you. You will also be required to read aloud several sentences in English to prove your reading fluency. Finally, all candidates must prove they can accurately write in English to pass the writing portion of the test.
Next, all applicants must pass the civics portion of the test. This gauges a candidate’s understanding of U.S. government procedures and history. Your interviewer will ask a total of 10 questions, chosen from a bank of 100 possible options. In order to pass, you must answer at least 6 of 10 questions correctly.
“What if I Fail the Test?”
Every naturalization candidate has two opportunities to pass the citizenship test. If any portion of the test is failed, it will need to be retaken. You will not need to retake any portion of the test successfully passed, only areas failed. All retests must be scheduled within 60 to 90 days of your original eligibility interview and citizenship test.
You can view scoring guidelines for every portion of the test here.
How to Prepare for the Citizenship Test
Certainly, the eligibility interview and citizenship test will likely be stressful. Yet, proper preparation will help you enter the interview with confidence. The USCIS provides study materials for both the English and civics portions of the citizenship test. Below, we also list some practice techniques that will help you successfully prepare for your tests.
To practice speaking English, consider finding a fluent English friend or tutor who you can converse with regularly. That way, you can practice your language skills, including natural conversations. Your partner will be able to highlight any issues or inconsistencies with your English speaking skills.
In order to pass the reading portion of the English test, applicants must accurately read at least one sentence (from three provided). The USCIS provides a list of reading vocabulary words to help you prepare. These include people, questioning words (e.g., who, where), civics words (e.g., citizen, Congress), verbs (e.g., can, vote), and more. Below, we’ve created a table that lists the types of words you should study as well as examples provided by the USCIS. For more information, visit the USCIS’s website.
Table 1. English Reading Fluency Study Words
In order to prove ability to write in English, all naturalization candidates must accurately write one sentence (out of three options). As with the reading portion of the citizenship test, the USCIS provides a list of essential vocabulary words to study. Learning these will help you pass the test. Many of the words are the same as those included for the reading portion of the test, with some differences. For example, applicants should understand how to spell the names of American states (e.g., Pennsylvania), allies (e.g. Canada), the English words for months (e.g. February), and holidays (e.g., Presidents’ Day.)
Finally, the civics portion of the test evaluates an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. government procedures, history, and famous people and events. Your naturalization officer will ask 10 questions – to pass, you must answer at least 6 correctly. Questions are drawn from a bank of 100 options. The USCIS provides every possible question you may be asked (and their answers) on a study worksheet, which you can access here. Review the possible questions and answers, create study guides and flash cards, and practice with a friend or family member.
Possible questions from the civics test include:
- What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
- Name your U.S. Representative.
- What is the highest court in the United States?
- Who is the “Father of Our Country”?
- What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
- Who did the United States fight during World War II?
You can also take an interactive practice test online. The USCIS provides it to allow you to practice your skills and knowledge. Access it here.
Seeking Naturalization? Work with an Expert Immigration Lawyer
Without a doubt, naturalized citizenship is rewarding and beneficial. Naturalized citizens gain the ability to vote and run for public office (with the exception of president). Yet, while naturalization is certainly worth the effort, attaining it is complicated. The entire process can take a long time, and can be stressful. Any errors or mismatches between your history and your application can cause delays or denials. Finally, the citizenship test can cause considerable worry as you must study and prepare.
Throughout the entire naturalization process, your best ally is a qualified immigration attorney. Your lawyer will be well versed in immigration and nationality laws and regulations, which protects you. They will oversee your application, help you prepare for your interview and test, and protect your rights. But remember – avoid scams and never work with “visa consultants” or “notarios,” who are not lawyers and not qualified to provide legal assistance.
Davis & Associates proudly serves the South Florida community. We recognize the rich and proud immigration history of Miami and passionately serve its residents every day. Our legal team is professional, knowledgeable, and highly skilled in naturalization law and procedures. And for your convenience, your first consultation is always free. Contact us today to schedule your appointment with one of our expert attorneys. You’ll sit down with us, discuss your case, and plan a path forward.