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What To Expect on the Naturalization Test

The thought of taking the naturalization test can be exciting and daunting. You're probably curious about how the process goes and what to expect when you attend your naturalization test.

Generally, during the naturalization process, you will be scheduled for an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At the interview, a USCIS officer will test your ability to read, write, and speak English. There might also be a test on your understanding and knowledge of U.S. history and the U.S. government, called the civics test. Often, they administer the test in a regulated environment, one-on-one with a USCIS officer. The civics test has up to 10 questions, and the interview portion can differ based on your individual situation.

Some naturalization applicants may be exempt from all or part of the naturalization test. This exception may apply due to the mental condition or age of the applicant.

Language Test

The English test assesses your ability to participate in the United States' economic and social aspects of life. The test has three parts:

  • Reading test: To test your ability to read, the USCIS officer will give you a piece of paper with three sentences. The officer will then instruct you to read one of the sentences out loud.
  • Writing test: The USCIS officer will then ask you to write one simple sentence to test your writing ability.
  • Speaking test: The USCIS officer will test your speaking ability during the questions and answers portion of the citizenship interview.

Basic proficiency in English is the threshold to pass these test questions. If you're not proficient in English, you might consider taking a basic English language course before the naturalization exam. You are not expected to be perfect on the U.S. Citizenship test, but you must have a basic understanding of the English language.

Civics Test

The civics portion covers basic U.S. history and knowledge of government. This test includes having knowledge of U.S. history and understanding the U.S. Constitution, the branches of the U.S. government, elections, voting, and more. These categories ensure you have a foundational understanding of the country you wish to be a citizen of.

Applicants may receive a waiver if they have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that impacts their capacity to understand the relevant information. Applicants living in the U.S. legally for over 20 years and over 65 may also receive special consideration on this test.

Examples of civics questions include:

Q: What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?

A: The Bill of Rights.

Q: In what month is the new President of the United States inaugurated?

A: January.

Q: Who elects Congress?

A: The citizens of the United States.

The USCIS posts study materials with a list of 100 civics questions they might ask during the interview. Consider reading this for more detailed questions and answers about the civics component of the citizenship application. Note that you will be asked 10 questions and should answer six correctly to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test.

Once you complete your naturalization test and your application is approved, USCIS will schedule you to take the Oath of Allegiance. This is the final step of the naturalization ceremony, and you are not a U.S. citizen until you take an oath.

Failing a Test

If you fail one of the naturalization tests, USCIS will schedule you a second appointment. This is often 60 to 90 days after the first naturalization interview. They will test you again during the second appointment. If you fail one or both of the language and civics tests, they will schedule a second appointment, typically within 60 to 90 days of the first interview. During this second interview, they will test you again.

If you fail the test a second time, they will deny your application for naturalization. However, this is not the end of your journey. You may apply again. But it's essential to understand that there could be implications that come with failing the naturalization test multiple times.

Legal Help With the Naturalization Process

Naturalizing in the United States requires a thorough understanding of the steps involved. It also requires careful preparation at each stage. If you or your family members are considering acquiring U.S. citizenship through naturalization, we recommend consulting an immigration lawyer for legal advice. They can assist you in understanding your eligibility for U.S. citizenship and the exemptions that may apply to your case.

The expertise of an immigration attorney is also helpful in other aspects of legal immigration. This may include guiding, acquiring a permanent residence, or becoming a green card holder. Those facing the possibility of deportation may also benefit from the guidance that an immigration lawyer can provide.

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