To qualify for naturalization and become a U.S. citizen, eligible lawful permanent residents must be able to pass a 2-part test. The exam is administered during the in-person interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. Fortunately, the test is not designed to be difficult. Below, we review what the test consists of and how you can prepare.
What Is on the Naturalization Test?
The naturalization test consists of 2 major components. In the English language portion, you will need to demonstrate a basic ability to speak, read, and write in the English language. The U.S. civics portion requires you to correctly answer at least 6 out of 10 provided questions.
Preparing for the English Language Test Component
The English language component is further divided into 3 distinct parts. If you are able to sufficiently answer the USCIS officer’s questions about your citizenship application, you will pass the speaking portion of the exam.
To pass the reading test, you must successfully read aloud one of 3 presented sentences. These sentences will not be especially complex, and USCIS allows you to review the vocabulary words that may appear in the test sentences. You should practice reading sample sentences using these words. Try to avoid pausing as much as possible.
Passing the writing test involves transcribing one of 3 sentences that will be spoken aloud. Like with the reading test, USCIS publishes the list of vocabulary words that may be part of the exam. Practice writing down sample sentences that include these words, and make sure you are writing legibly. You will not typically be penalized for misspelling a handful of words or making other minor grammatical errors.
Preparing for the Civics Test Component
The civics portion of the naturalization exam will assess your basic understanding of U.S. history and government. In cases that do not involve an exception, the USCIS officer will randomly select ten questions from a pool of 100 possible questions. They will read each question aloud in English, and you must provide the answer verbally. To pass, you must correctly answer 6 of the 10 questions. Note that the USCIS officer may weigh your age, education, and other elements of your background when deciding which questions to ask.
You can study all 100 questions you could be asked in advance. You should diligently study each question and make sure you are ready to confidently answer them. Completing practice tests that randomly select questions from the pool may help.
Exceptions for the U.S. Citizenship Test
You should expect to have to take and pass all components of the naturalization test. However, limited exceptions are available to qualifying applicants.
You may be eligible to skip the English language portion of the citizenship test if:
- You are at least 50 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years
- You are at least 55 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years
If you do not need to take the English language section of the test, you can also take the civics component in a language of your choosing. The test will still be conducted verbally in these scenarios, so you will need an interpreter to help you. Additionally, if you are at least 65 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you will only need to study 20 of the 100 possible civics questions.
Exceptions and accommodations are also available to individuals living with disabilities. If you have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least twelve months, you can request an exemption from or accommodation involving any portion of the citizenship test. These exemptions and/or accommodations must be requested with the cooperation of a qualified medical professional when you initially submit your naturalization application materials.
What Happens If I Do Not Pass the Citizenship Test?
Passing the U.S. citizenship exam is not an all-or-nothing affair. If you do not pass any portion of the citizenship test, you will get one additional chance to retake the components you did not initially pass. You will not have to retake any portions you did pass. For example, if you passed the civics test, English speaking, and English reading test but not the English writing test, you would only have to reattempt the English writing portion at a later date.
USCIS will be in touch about when and where your reexamination will take place. The retest will typically be scheduled within 90 days of your in-person interview. If you are not able to pass any part of the test on your second attempt, your naturalization application will be denied, and you will not be able to move forward.
Our attorneys at Smith Law Offices, LLC can help you avoid this outcome by ensuring you are ready for each component of the citizenship test. We have over 30 years of combined legal experience and are committed to helping immigrants become U.S. citizens. Our team can provide you with comprehensive preparation resources and attentively guide you through each stage of the naturalization process.
Speak to a member of our team by calling (636) 400-1177 or contacting us online.