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What is the U.S. Citizenship Test?

Immigration Attorneys Philadelphia
Thousands of eligible immigrants become United States citizens each year, and there are often more who are hesitant to apply for citizenship because of the lengthy testing process. However, there are many resources within your reach to help you apply and prepare for the test. For those who are prepared and know what to expect from the process and test, 90 percent of applicants pass on their first attempt. If you are considering becoming a U.S. citizen, you must take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization test. Given in two parts, an English test and a civics test, you must be able to show that you have a clear understanding of the English language through speaking, reading, and writing. To gauge your abilities, you will be tested in the following manner:

English Test

  • Speaking test: The USCIS officer will ask questions regarding your application and citizenship eligibility. The officer uses this process to determine your ability to understand and speak the English language.
  • Writing test: The officer will provide you with three sentences, and you are required to write one sentence correctly to demonstrate your ability to write in English.
  • Reading test: You will be required to read one out of three sentences correctly to show your English reading comprehension.

Civics Test

  • The civics portion of the test, which covers the U.S. government and history, is given orally, and you will be required to give spoken answers in English. There will be 20 questions out of the possible 128, and you must answer 12 correctly to pass.

Am I Eligible to Take the Citizenship Test?

There are many steps toward acquiring your citizenship. To begin the process, you must file an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) to determine your eligibility. The USCIS eligibility requirements are as follows:
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application
  • Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three or five years, depending on which naturalization category you are applying under
  • Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
  • Demonstrate a loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
Once your eligibility has been determined and you are approved, you will want to start preparing yourself for the upcoming test.

How can I Prepare Myself for the Exam?

There are many options to study and prepare yourself for the exam. The USCIS offers study materials for the English and civics portions of the tests on its website, including multiple choice practice tests. It is recommended that you take advantage of these study materials and tests, being sure to take several practice tests. Some education institutions near you may offer immigration classes, or you may find local immigrant study groups.

What Types of Questions Will I be Asked for the Civics Test?

The civics portion of the citizenship test covers American government, history, symbols, and holidays. Here are some sample questions in each: Government
  • What is the form of government in the United States?
  • What does the Bill of Rights protect?
  • Name the three branches of government.
  • Describe one of the four amendments to the U.S. Constitution about who can vote.
  • Name one reason why the Americans declared independence from Britain.
  • What are five of the original 13 states?
  • What territory did the U.S. buy from France in 1803?
  • What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
Symbols and Holidays
  • Why does the U.S. flag have 13 stripes?
  • The nation’s first motto was “E Pluribus Unum.” What does that mean?
  • Name three national U.S. holidays.
  • What is Veterans Day?

Could I be Exempt from Taking the Test?

Anyone seeking citizenship must take the civics portion of the test. However, there may be some exemptions from the English portion and potential special accommodations for the civics test. They are as follows: English Exemptions
  • 50/20 exemption: If you are over 50 and have held a U.S. green card for at least 20 years.
  • 55/15 exemption: If you are 55 or older and have held a U.S. green card for at least 15 years.
Exemptions for Seniors in Spanish If you qualify for either exemption, you may be permitted to take the civics portion of the test in your native language, but you must show that you do not understand spoken English and bring an interpreter. 65/20 Special Consideration If you are 65 or older and have lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, you may be granted special consideration and be allowed to take an easier version of the civics exam in your native language. Disability Accommodations If you have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment severe enough that you cannot learn or test on the English and civics requirements, they may be waived. To meet this exemption, you must submit the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, Form N-648, with the Application for U.S. Citizenship, Form N-400. The disability form must be certified by a licensed medical professional.

What Happens if I Do Not Pass the Test?

Should you not pass on your first attempt, you will be given the opportunity to retake the exam. You have up to 90 days after your first test to try again, and you will be tested on the same portion you failed previously. Although you are permitted to retake the exam, you are allowed to do so only twice. Should you fail the second time, you will be denied citizenship permanently. You are eligible to file an appeal of your test scores if you believe they are incorrect; however, that will cost a $650 fee.

What Happens after I Pass the Exam?

After you pass the exam, you will be scheduled to take the Oath of Allegiance at a USCIS citizenship ceremony. This is the last step in becoming a U.S. citizen. Philadelphia Immigrations Lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC Assist Those Seeking U.S. Citizenship The process for applying for naturalization can be complicated. The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC will help you navigate the immigration process, including preparing your paperwork, representing you in court, and assisting you with the steps involved with the citizenship test. Call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.
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