The U.S. Naturalization Test

  • Jul 21 2017

To become a naturalized U.S. Citizen, you must take and pass the naturalization test. The test has several parts, including:

  • An interview about your application and background
  • An English test
  • A civics test

The English test will determine whether you understand the basics of the English language. The test is based on the ability to read, write, speak, and understand English. The civics portion will orally check the applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government.  However, there are several situations where applicants may be exempt from having to take the English or Civics test.

Applicants have two opportunities to pass the English and civics test. The first is during the initial examination. If the applicant fails, then he or she has a second opportunity in the re-examination interview. If the candidate fails any part of the exam after two attempts, their application for naturalization will be denied.

In some situations, however, you may still be able to request a hearing on the denial, and you may have another opportunity to take the exam. Nonetheless, applicants should not count on being able to take any portion of the test a third time.

Exceptions to the Testing Requirements

You may not need to take the English portion of the exam if you have been in the U.S. as a lawful parament resident for some time. You will be exempt from the English part of the test if the following conditions apply to you.

  • You have lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years and are at least 50 years old and at the time of filing.
  • You have lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years and are at least 55 or older on the date of filing.
  • You are 65 years old or older, and you have lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing.
  • You qualify for a medical disability exception.

Those who meet the above descriptions are still required to take the civics exam, but they may take the exam in the language of their choice and can use an interpreter. Those who are over age 65 will have specifically designed test forms as well.

In addition, those who qualify as having a medical disability may not be required to take the civics exam at all.

The English Exam

There are several parts to the English exam. The first is the oral test. The applicant should demonstrate his or her ability to speak and understand English by answering questions. These questions relate to information already provided in the naturalization application.

The reading portion of the exam involves reading one sentence out of three sentences. Once the applicant reads one of these three sentences correctly, the exam is over for that portion.

Writing is tested by writing out one sentence out of three sentences in a way that the officer giving the exam understands. Again, once the applicant writes one of these sentences, the test will stop. The sentence does not have to be perfect; it can have some grammatical, spelling, or capitalization errors, for example.

Preparing for the naturalization test can be daunting, but the USCIS offers you some free resources to help you review. You can access their study materials here.

Posted in: Immigration Law