The naturalization test is one of the last and most important steps in obtaining American citizenship. To pass it, the candidate has to legally reside in the United States for at least five years.
First of all, it is important to say that the test consists of two components:
- exam in English;
- Civic test of knowledge of American history, politics and civil law.
English language proficiency test
And although the updated version of 2020 touched on many aspects, the English part has not changed. The candidate has to demonstrate their ability to understand and use the language in everyday speech. So you need to be ready for 3 stages: reading, writing, and speaking.
Reading. In order to pass the reading test, the applicant must correctly read one of three sentences suggested by the examiner. It should be noted that the words used in this part of the test are quite simple and are appropriate for a basic level of English.
Writing. To show the ability to write in English, a candidate is required to write one sentence out of three dictated by an officer.
Speaking. The Immigration Officer tests the citizenship applicant’s ability to understand and speak during a conversation. Usually, the examiner asks standard questions needed for life in the United States.
The second part of the naturalization test is the most decisive. It testes knowledge of the foundations of history, principles and forms of government, American culture.
What is the procedure for passing?
So, according to the 2020 updates, candidates will be required to answer 20 questions instead of 10. And the total number of questions is 128. Nevertheless, the passing score remains as before (60% is 12 correct answers).
Applicants aged 65 and over who have legally lived in the United States for 20 years are especially privileged. They have to answer 6 out of 10 questions.
Questions are given only from the officially approved list. You can find it on the Citizenship and Immigration Service website. Basically, all questions are divided into three thematic groups: American history, government and civil law. The selection of questions usually depends on age, nationality, education of applicants.
What changes are there in the questions?
All 128 questions of the naturalization test are divided into 3 parts:
- American government (Principles of American Government, System of Government, Rights and Responsibilities)
- American History (Colonial Period and Independence; 1800s; Recent American History and Other Important Historical Information)
- Symbols and Holidays
For example, in contrast to the test in 2008, candidates for citizenship are asked to name all three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial). In the old version, only one was required.
Also, there have been some amendments to the answers. As an example, you can see a question: Who does a U.S. senator represent? Earlier the correct answer was “all people of their state”, but now it was changed to “citizens of their state.” However, it is worth noting that this formulation caused a massive outrage among immigrants. They argue that it is against the rights of equality and protection of all nationalities living in the United States.
Besides, the updated test has more questions about women’s rights. For example: “Name one leader of the women’s rights movement in the 1800s”, “When did all women get the right to vote?” etcetera.
In addition to this, in the 2020 version you can find more questions about the US federal holidays: “What is Independence Day?”, “What is Memorial Day?”, and «What is Veterans Day?”
Of course, some people are opposed to the updated version of Civic test, because it is more complicated. But the Representative of the Citizenship and Immigration Service Dan Hetlage still speaks of its unconditional advantages:
“New test covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with a more well-rounded testing experience.”