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Redesigned Naturalization Test

In the interest of creating a more standardized, fair, and meaningful naturalization process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently completed a multi-year redesign of the naturalization test. The revised test, with an emphasis on the fundamental concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, will help encourage citizenship applicants to learn and identify with the basic values we all share as Americans.

Over the past decade, several in-depth studies of the naturalization test revealed concerns with the test’s content, how the test was being administered, and how it was being scored. To address these concerns, the federal government launched a test redesign in 2000. In April 2005, the USCIS Office of Citizenship took over responsibility for this redesign. A panel of adult education experts affiliated with Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), U.S. history and government scholars, expert test development contractors, and other external stakeholders provided input into the redesign.

Redesign Process
The major aim of the redesign process is to ensure that naturalization applicants have uniform, consistent testing experiences nationwide, and that the civics test can effectively assess whether applicants have a meaningful understanding of U.S. government and history. Following a basic U.S. history and civics curriculum, the redesigned test will serve as an important instrument to encourage civic learning and patriotism among prospective citizens.

To accomplish these goals, USCIS initially piloted a new test–with an overhauled English reading and writing section, as well as new history and government questions–in ten sites across the country. The feedback from this pilot was then used to finalize testing procedures, English reading and writing prompts, and a list of 100 new history and government questions. To ensure the pilot accounted for a representative sample of candidates with a variety of education levels, the test was also piloted at adult education sites nationwide. 

The resulting redesigned test was publicly introduced on September 27, 2007. Naturalization applicants will begin taking the revised test on October 1, 2008.

Which Test Do I Take?
Following the public introduction of the redesigned naturalization test on September 27, 2007, there will be one full year before naturalization applicants begin taking the revised test. This period will allow adult educators and immigrants working toward citizenship sufficient time to prepare for the redesigned test. The following guidelines will determine whether naturalization applicants will take the current test or the redesigned version:

If an applicant:

  • Applies 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 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.




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