Understanding the English and Civics test and how to practice the citizenship test
As part of the naturalization process, all applicants, except for those who are exempted, are required to pass the 2-part naturalization test, aka, citizenship test. The first part consists of English test that assesses the applicant’s ability to speak, read, and write in English. The second part, a civics test, consists of U.S. history and government related questions. The exams take place during your citizenship interview.
Here, we will discuss who is exempted from the exam, naturalization test questions, how to prepare for the citizenship exam, and what to expect after completion of the citizenship test.
IMPORTANT UPDATE Regarding the 2020 Version of the Civics Test: On December 1, 2020, USCIS implemented a revised version of the civics test for naturalization (2020 civics test). Due to recent policy changes, applicants required to take the 2020 civics test may now have a choice to take the 2020 test or the 2008 civics test, the previous version of the civics test.
Please note that beginning on April 19, 2021, USCIS will only offer the 2008 civics test at the interview regardless of N-400 application filing date.
The 2020 version of the civics test requires applicants to study 128 questions about American government and history. In order to pass the 2020 civics test, applicants must answer correctly 12 of the 20 questions (or 60%).
The 2008 version of the civics test requires applicants to study 100 questions about American government and history. In order to pass the 2008 civics test, applicants must answer correctly 6 of the 10 questions (or 60%).
For more information about the 2020 Version of the Civics test, please click here.
Citizenship Test (2-Part Naturalization Test Questions)
Unless you are exempted from the test, you must pass the citizenship test to achieve the ticket to the Oath ceremony. However, don’t worry. If you practice the citizenship test with our guide, you will perform perfectly well. Be aware that you have two opportunities to pass. However, it is better to study and prepare hard and pass it once.
Let’s look into the naturalization test questions and what to expect for each part of the citizenship test.
1. English Test
For the English test part of the citizenship test, USCIS officers will test your ability to read, write, and speak English, unless you are exempt from the English requirements. The English test consists of three parts: Speaking, Reading, and Writing.
Although some may be fluent in English, most people are not. The USCIS officer expects common mistakes, so don’t panic if you make any mistake. Thus, if you do not understand any of the questions, don’t be shy to ask for clarification.
- Speaking – Your ability to speak English is tested by your answers to questions normally asked by USCIS officers during the citizenship interview. Your speaking ability will be evaluated from the beginning when you meet the USCIS officer. Your response to questions and ability to follow simple instructions will be considered a speaking ability. There are no specific questions that are generated to test your speaking ability but rather USCIS officers will test your ability as to how you comprehend questions the officer asks about your citizenship application and background.
- Reading – To test your ability to read in English, you will be given three sentences to read until you have successfully read one sentence out of three sentences. In general, you will be allowed to leave out short words, mispronounce some words, or use non-standard intonation.
- Writing – To test your ability to write English, USCIS officers will read to you a sentence. The officer will keep reading the next sentence up to three sentences until you have successfully written one correct sentence out of the three sentences. In general, you will be allowed to misspell some words and make some capitalization, grammatical and/or punctuational errors.
Click here to find study materials and resources to practice for the English test part of the citizenship test.
2. Civics Test
The second part of the citizenship test is a U.S. civics test – to test your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. Even if you are exempt from the English test, you will need to take the civics test in the language of your own language. The USCIS officer will give you 10 questions and you must get 6 right to pass this part (If you take the 2020 version of the civics test, you must answer correctly 12 out of the 20 questions). Once you get 6 answers right (12 for the 2020 version), you pass the civics test. If you are unable to answer correctly 60% of the questions, the USCIS officer will stop the citizenship interview. USCIS will reschedule your 2nd interview to re-take the citizenship test later.
USCIS provides the complete list of questions asked in the civics test to help you prepare for the citizenship test.
Study Materials for the civics test part of the Citizenship Test:
You must study all test questions on the list – unless you are aged 65 or older, in which case you will need to study only the 20 questions marked with an asterisk (*) or the ones that are listed here
More than half of the citizenship practice test questions and answers are about the U.S. government; and the rest are about U.S. history. For some test questions in the study material have answers but for some questions, you may have to search for the answer for yourself. For example, “How many U.S. Senators are there?” The answer will be “one hundred (100)”. However, if the question asks for the current senator of your state? Then, you will have to search for that answer.
We recommend you start studying naturalization test questions now and practice for the citizenship test. Do not wait until the last minute to review the study materials and panic on the day of the citizenship test. It is wise to study and repeat the citizenship practice test questions and answers so that you become familiar with the citizenship test.
After the Citizenship Test
When you complete your citizenship test, the officer may give you the result of the citizenship interview on that same day. The officer will give you Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results providing either approval, continuance, or denial.
If you passed the citizenship test and everything went well in the citizenship interview, the USCIS officer will likely tell you if your naturalization application is approved. The officer may also provide information about your oath ceremony.
If you did not pass the citizenship test, you will be able to retake the entire 2-part tests of the citizenship test (or just a portion you did not pass), but the questions on the second test will be different from the first citizenship test. The officer will reschedule your citizenship test, which will usually take place about 90 days from the date of your first citizenship test appointment.
Unless you provide sufficient explanation in advance and were given an excuse by the USCIS, you must attend the second citizenship test because if you don’t, then you will be considered a failed attempt and your application may be denied.
This time, make sure you practice the citizenship test questions and answers. If you do not pass the second citizenship test, your N-400 application will be denied.
In some cases, the USCIS officer cannot make a decision right away after the citizenship interview. The final decision may require additional evidence which you did not have available during your interview or the further assistance of the officer’s supervisor.
If the USCIS denies your N-400 application, they will provide the reasons for the denial. You can choose to appeal within 30 days of receiving the decision letter or file a new N-400 application.
Citizenship Test Exempted Applicants
Every naturalization applicant must take and pass the naturalization tests (2-part citizenship test) unless exempted.
1. English Test Exemption
You are exempted from the English Test if you qualify as follow:
|Your age at the time of filing N-400||And the time you lived in the United States as a green card holder for at least|
|Aged 50 and older||20 years|
|Aged 55 and older||15 years|
2. Civics Test Exemption
Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to the civics test (except disabled applicants - for more information please see below. Exceptions based on Disability), but the above age groups may take the civics test in a language of their choice. If you wish to take the civics test in language other than English, then you must be accompanied by an interpreter.
Furthermore, if you are 65 years old or older and you have lived in the United States for at least 20 years then, instead of studying 100 questions but studying 20 questions in the study material. You will be asked 10 questions at the civic test among the 20 questions. The applicant must answer 6 out of 10 right to pass the civics test.
3. Exceptions based on Disability
Applicants with a medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months can apply for an exemption from the English Test, the Civics Test, or both. Qualified medical conditions include:
- Physical disabilities
- Developmental disabilities
- Mental impairment
To be considered and to qualify, you must submit Form N-648, “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions”, along with your naturalization application, Form N-400. Form N-648 must be completed, certified, and signed by a licensed medical doctor, osteopathic doctor, or clinical psychologist who can certify to your medical condition and how such conditions prevent you from being able to complete the test even with accommodations. (See how to request accommodations). However, applicants who can neither read nor write do not qualify for any special exceptions on the basis of being illiterate.
If you have a disability or other needs, you can request special accommodations to help you complete the tests. For instance, you may bring an interpreter or a family member. USCIS may give you extra time to complete your naturalization test, or they may designate an alternative, more easily accessible testing site, such as your home or senior citizens center, if you are unable to travel to your nearest USCIS field office.
You may request accommodations if you are:
- Deaf or hard of hearing
- Blind or have poor vision
- Have other conditions that limit your ability to complete the exam, for example, using a wheelchair or cannot use your arm or hand.
You can request for such accommodation in advance by:
- Stating the type of accommodation you will need on your N-400 application
- Calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD: 1-800-767-1833)
- Contacting your field office
If accommodations cannot be available on the date of your exam, USCIS then must make alternative arrangements in which USCIS is required to give you notice as soon as possible.
Here, we’ve looked over the citizenship test and how to practice for the 2-part exam, English test and civic test. Are you ready for the citizenship test practice? If you’d like to review samples of the practice test questions and answers for the citizenship test, click here.