USCIS Releases 144 Q&As for the Pilot Test of a New Naturalization Exam

USCIS Director Emilio Gonzalez announced the release of 144 questions and answers for the pilot test of a new naturalization exam. According to Director Gonzalez, the goal of the new exam is to "inspire immigrants to learn about the civic values of this nation" rather than just memorize facts to pass a test. The new questions focus on the concepts of democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. USCIS will administer the pilot test to about 5,000 volunteer citizenship applicants in 10 cities in early 2007. During the trial period, volunteers who incorrectly answer a pilot question can immediately take the current exam. USCIS will use the pilot to identify any problems with the exam and refine it before it is fully implemented in the spring of 2008. The USCIS news release is accompanied by a fact sheet, a list of the pilot questions, and a list of the current questions.

“We found that the current naturalization exam process lacks standardization and encourages applicants to memorize facts just to pass a test, but that doesn’t guarantee that they understand the meaning behind the question,” said Director Gonzalez. “Our goal is to inspire immigrants to learn about the civic values of this nation so that after they take the oath of citizenship they will participate fully in our great democracy.”

The pilot will allow USCIS to work out any problems and refine the exam before it is fully implemented nationwide in the spring of 2008. The questions and answers are posted on the agency Web site, Questions that are not successful in the pilot will be dropped, narrowing the list to the same 100 questions as the current exam. The range of acceptable answers to questions will increase so that applicants may learn more about a topic and select from a wider range of responses. In addition to new questions, USCIS will soon release a new civics-based vocabulary list to help applicants study for the English reading and writing portion of the proposed test.

During the trial period, volunteer applicants who choose to take the pilot exam can immediately take the current exam if they incorrectly answer a pilot question. To pass, applicants will have to correctly answer six of 10 selected questions. The 10 pilot test sites are: Albany, N.Y.; Boston, Mass; Charleston, S.C.; Denver, Colo; El Paso, TX; Kansas City, Mo..; Miami, Fla.; San Antonio, TX; Tucson, Ariz.; and Yakima, Wash.

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