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Do I Have to Take a History Test to Become a U.S. Citizen?

History Test to be CitizenThe short answer is yes: if you are applying to become a citizen of the United States, you must take what is called a civics test. The test does include some history questions, for instance, "Who was the President of the United States during World War I?" Other types of questions that may be asked include basic questions about the workings of American government, such as, "What are two functions of the judicial branch?"

What to Expect During the Civics Test for U.S. Citizenship

Even many people who are already American citizens would feel intimidated at having to take a test on American history and government! It helps to know what the test will be like, and what you will be facing when you take it.

Some good news is that the test is not long. In fact, it is only ten questions, and you only have to get six of those correct. More good news is that there is a limited number of questions from which the questions on your test will be drawn, so you do not need to try to know everything about U.S. government and history! If you study using the list of one hundred questions, and know the answers to each of them, you should perform well on the actual civics test. The questions are fairly straightforward and are not intended to try to trick you.

However, there are some things you should be aware of and be prepared for. The test is given orally, in English—not in writing. It will be administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer during your naturalization interview.

Unlike practice tests available online, the actual civics test will not be multiple choice. You will need to know the answer and will not be able to guess from a list of possibilities. For this reason you should not rely too heavily on your results from online practice tests. Try to get someone to practice asking you the questions, without giving you choices for the answers, until you are confident answering them.

Exceptions and Exemptions for Taking the Civics Test for U.S. Citizenship

As noted above, the civics test is usually given in English. However, you may be able to take the test in your native language if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • You are age 50 or older when you file for naturalization, and you have been a lawful permanent resident in the United States for over 20 years; or
  • You are age 55 or older when you file for naturalization, and you have been a lawful permanent resident in the United States for over 15 years.

If you are allowed to take the civics test in your native language, you will need to bring with you an interpreter who is fluent both in English and your native language. If you are 65 or older, and have been a lawful permanent resident for over 15 years, you may receive special consideration with regard to the civics test.

While most people must take the test, there are certain exceptions, such as if you have a physical or mental impairment that makes you unable to take it. A qualified doctor must provide documentation of the condition that limits your abilities.

To learn more about the requirements for U.S. Citizenship, read:

If you have questions about your path to citizenship, please contact Howard County, MD immigration lawyer Van T. Doan.

Categories: Immigration Law