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The Citizenship Test

Perhaps one of the most intimidating components of the naturalization process is the citizenship test, which gauges applicants' knowledge and understanding of United States history, government, and the legal system. The test often contains information that many native born U.S. citizens don't even know, believe it or not. Proper preparation is essential to passing this important part of the citizenship application process. This section provides resources to help applicants prepare for the citizenship test, including a list of typical citizenship examination questions and an overview of what to expect on the test.

The Language Test

Applicants for citizenship must demonstrate their English language proficiency. An applicant doesn't need to be entirely fluent, but should understand English well enough to read, write, and speak effectively.

  • Speaking English - There is no separate test for the ability to speak English. As the officer verifies the information on the application, such as the individual's address, they will assess the applicant's ability to understand and speak English.
  • Reading English - The applicant may be asked to read aloud certain parts of the application for citizenship. The oath is a common text officers ask to have read to them.
  • Writing English - The officer will ask the applicant to write one or two simple sentences.

The Civics Test

The civics test for immigration covers basic U.S. history and government. Applicants will be asked some questions, usually around 10, and must provide responses. The immigration service provides a list of all the possible questions along with their answers and there are many resources and study aides available, including audio tapes and phone apps that can help applicants study for the test.

Failing a Test

If either of the tests is failed on the first attempt, the officer will schedule a second interview and provide an opportunity to try again. If either test is failed on the second attempt the application will be denied, though this does not prevent the applicant from re-applying at another time.

Test Requirement Waivers

Those with a documented disability may receive a waiver of either or both of the tests, depending on the disability. Also, older applicants may be eligible to waive or reduce the testing requirements.

  • Applicants 50 or older who have resided in the U.S. lawfully for 20 years are not subject to the English language requirement.
  • Applicants 55 or older who have resided in the U.S. lawfully for 15 years are not subject to the English language requirement.
  • Applicants 65 or older who have resided in the U.S. lawfully for 20 years receive special consideration with regard to the civics requirement.

Forms are available to certify your medical disability and the application itself has space to request accommodation for other disabilities that may impact your application process.If you are concerned about your ability to pass either of the tests or wish to request a waiver or other accommodation, you may seek the assistance of an attorney.

Learn About The Citizenship Test