How to Prepare For Citizenship Test?

Updated on 03/18/2023

Preparing for your U.S. citizenship test can remind you of being back in school. If you used to become nervous in class right before an exam, getting ready for your U.S. naturalization test may create a feeling of major anxiety.

One way to ease your nerves about taking a citizenship exam is to prepare yourself as much as possible ahead of time. By arming yourself with a lot of information about the citizenship test and ways to study for it, you can calmly approach it when the day of your naturalization exam arrives.

Citizenship Test

1. Why do you need to take a citizenship test?

Becoming a United States citizen means that a foreigner agrees to accept the laws of the United States and behave loyally to the United States. Therefore, it is important for a naturalization candidate to be aware of the details and inner workings of the American government system, as well as the history of its formation.

Further, even though there are people from various cultures and nationalities living and working in the United States, the official language of the United States is English. Therefore, during a naturalization interview a citizenship candidate will be assessed on their fluency in English listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

2. What questions are asked on the U.S. naturalization test?

At the citizenship interview, in addition to reviewing the N-400 application, an officer from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will assess the candidate for naturalization. The examinations include English assessments (English listening, speaking, reading and writing) and a test on U.S. history and civics.

U.S. English Listening and Speaking Test for Naturalization

The English listening and speaking test is also an English listening and speaking comprehension exam. This portion of the citizenship assessments occurs during the naturalization interview. The USCIS officer will review the N-400 application for naturalization with the citizenship candidate and ask questions to both verify and clarify the information on the form.

During this verbal exchange, a USCIS adjudicator can figure out whether or not the interviewee can understand the questions and respond appropriately in English. Even if the applicant for naturalization does not answer with English grammar that is completely correct, it is beneficial if they do answer in proper English sentence structure.

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English Reading Test for Naturalization

For the English reading exam, the citizenship candidate will be asked to read up to three sentences aloud. Some of the words in the test will be names of famous Americans, such as George Washington, as well as U.S. holidays, like Memorial Day or Columbus Day.

Fortunately, the USCIS provides a list of English vocabulary words for reading test so that applicants for naturalization can practice these terms. Moreover, the sentence structure of the reading test is fairly simple. It includes basic verbs such as can, come, and want.

English Writing Test for Naturalization

The U.S. naturalization exam on English writing is fairly simple. Unlike many people’s experience in elementary school or high school, there is no long essay.

The citizenship writing test involves successfully writing one single sentence out of three. The writing must be sufficiently understandable when the USCIS adjudicator reads it. Again, the USCIS provides a list of English vocabulary words for writing test so that naturalization applicants can practice in advance.

United States History and Civics Test

To pass the U.S. history and civics test, a naturalization applicant must answer six out of ten questions correctly. The questions are chosen from a set of 100 facts about United States history and government.

Because it is impossible to predict which ten questions will be asked at the citizenship interview, applicants should learn the answers to all 100 questions before entering the USCIS interview room.

3. How can you study for the citizenship exam?

The USCIS website provides a variety of study tools to help candidates for citizenship prepare for their citizenship test. In addition to the list of English vocabulary words discussed above, the USCIS also provides flashcards and short lessons for the English and civics tests.

For example, for people who prefer to study by quizzing themselves, or having others do so, the USCIS provides flashcards of all 100 of the civics questions that may be asked on the citizenship test. Those who like to study using an outline may enjoy using the USCIS document titled, “Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test.” This study tool groups the 100 civics test questions into categories in an outline format.

Another way to study for the U.S. naturalization exam is to use the quick civics lessons provided by the USCIS. This study guide begins each section by asking a multiple choice question. Then there is a several-paragraph lesson that explains why the correct answer is right.

In addition to the free study materials offered by the USCIS, there are preparation books that have been published for sale. There are also videos available on the YouTube or other internet sources that assist in preparation for the U.S. citizenship test.

Applicants can also enroll some naturalization preparation courses that are provided by some adult schools or community colleges or other types of community English learning centers. Usually, they are free or charge little fee.

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4. What happens after the citizenship test?

After you have learned all you can about the U.S. citizenship tests and thoroughly studied for the English and civics exams, you might start looking forward to what will happen next. What happens after the U.S. citizenship interview and naturalization assessments depends on whether or not you have passed the citizenship tests.

If you do not pass your U.S. citizenship exam, the USCIS officer will end the interview session. However, you will be invited to return to try again on another day that is around 2 months after the first interview.  

When you finish with your naturalization interview and citizenship tests, the USCIS adjudicator may or may not tell you whether you passed and will be able to become a U.S. citizen. In some circumstances, even if you passed your U.S. naturalization exams, the USCIS may send you a request for evidence to ask you for more documents to support your N-400 application. Otherwise, you will receive an oath ceremony notice and be able to attend an oath ceremony and officially become a United States citizen. Good luck!

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