The U.S. Citizenship Test: Three Tips to Prepare

Before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, you’ll have to pass an exam on English and U.S. history/civics. USCIS provides Study Guides on its website. Here are three tips to prepare.

1. Understand the different elements of the Citizenship test

The test consists of two parts. The first part is an English exam that tests your ability to read, write and speak in English. For the reading portion, you must read one out of three sentences correctly. For the writing portion, the officer will read out a sentence and you will have to write exactly what you heard. You must write one of three sentences correctly to pass.

The second part consists of a test of U.S. history/civics. During the test, you must answer at least six of ten USCIS citizenship questions correctly. The questions are read aloud to you in English.

2. Study the USCIS tools to prepare

It is essential to study for this exam, even if you feel that speak English well or believe you know U.S. history/civic very well. To study USCIS citizenship questions, the USCIS offers a downloadable study booklet of 100 history/civics questions and answers. The ten questions on the exam will be selected from this booklet, so you should study this booklet thoroughly.

You can download the booklet in English, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese or Tagalog, but the USCIS office will administer the test in English.

To practice your English, it’s a good idea to download the USCIS’s reading and writing flash cards. It also provides a reading test vocabulary list. Ask a friend to help you practice your writing as well by reading out sentences for you to write.

3. You may be eligible for certain exemptions and accommodations

The 50/20 exemption: You may be exempt from the English language requirement if you are age 50 or older when filing the Form N-400 and have lived as a permanent resident in the United State for at least 20 years.

The 55/15 exemption: You may be exempt from the English exam if you are age 55 or older when filing Form N-400 and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years or more.
Civic tests accommodations: Even if you are exempt from the English language exam, you must still take the civics portion of the test. However, if the 50/20 or 55/15 exemption applies to you, you are authorized to take the civics test in your native language. You may bring an interpreter to your exam, but the interpreter must be fluent in both your native language and English.
Exemptions for individuals with disabilities or impairments. You may qualify for exemptions from certain parts of the naturalization test if you have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prohibits you from demonstrating your knowledge of English or the civics requirement. To apply for this exemption, you must submit a Form N-648, which is a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions form. A licensed medical doctor or psychologist must complete the form less than six months before filing the Form N-400.

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