Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

USCIS Announces New Naturalization Test


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released the 100 questions and answers that comprise the civics component of the new naturalization test. USCIS will administer the new test to citizenship applicants beginning in October 2008. The revised naturalization test emphasizes fundamental concepts of American democracy, basic U.S. history, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and “promote[s] patriotism among prospective citizens,” USCIS said.

Earlier this year, more than 6,000 citizenship applicants volunteered to take a pilot version of the test at 10 USCIS sites across the country, including Boston, during a four-month period. Volunteers achieved a 92.4 percent overall pass rate on the first try, USCIS noted. The pass rate on the current test is 84 percent, which includes the wider universe of test-takers who did not volunteer for the pilot test. The 100 new civics items on the new naturalization test were selected after USCIS, a panel of history and government scholars, and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers conducted a review of their responses to the 142 items on the pilot test. Following the pilot, USCIS refined the questions and answers, dropped several and adjusted others to increase clarity, and conducted a second review, eventually narrowing the list to the new 100 questions. The range of acceptable answers to questions will increase so that applicants may learn more about a topic and select from a wider range of responses.

ABIL member Steve Clark reports that in Boston few clients had difficulty with the new test format, but only those with total comfort in English elected to take the test using the new format. He comments that “it will be interesting to see the percentage passing when the new format becomes mandatory.”

The following guidelines will determine whether naturalization applicants will take the current test or the redesigned version:

If an applicant:

  • Applies for citizenship before October 1, 2008, and is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview before October 1, 2008, he or she will take the current test.
  • Applies before October 1, 2008, and is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview after October 1, 2008, he or she can choose to take either the current test or the redesigned version.
  • Applies after October 1, 2008, he or she will take the redesigned version.
  • Is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview after October 1, 2009, regardless of when he or she applied, he or she will take the redesigned version
  • .

USCIS has posted the 100 new question and answers, the reading and writing vocabulary lists, a side-by-side comparison of the current and new test, answers to frequently asked questions and other information about the new test online at www.uscis.gov.

The related press release is available here.

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Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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