Preparing for Naturalization Tests
For many people, the most nerve-racking part of the naturalization process is taking the required English-language and civics tests. While it may seem daunting, both tests are completely manageable if you prepare well by using the abundance of free study materials offered online.
You may be eligible to receive an exemption or waiver for one or both of these tests based on age or disability. If you are over the age of 50 and have lived in the United States for 20 years as a legal permanent resident, or you are over the age of 55 and have lived in the United States for 15 years as a legal permanent resident, you can be exempted from the English-language test. You will still, however, need to take the civics test in your native language. Exemptions and other accommodations will also be made for anyone with a qualifying mental or developmental impairment.
The English-language test evaluates your ability to read, write, and speak in English. You will not be provided with a translator at any point; the officer will be evaluating your ability to understand and speak English throughout the entire interview. If you don’t understand a question asked or a direction given by the officer, it’s okay to ask them to repeat or rephrase it; it’s much better to do that then pretend you understand something that you don’t. The officer will repeat and rephrase their question many times, until it’s reasonable to assume that your level of English is too low. During the structured test, you will need to read 1 written sentence out loud to the officer (out of 3 given options) and write down 1 sentence spoken out loud by the officer (out of 3 given options). All of the vocabulary used in these sentences is selected from a list that you can study beforehand.
The civics test evaluates your knowledge of United States history and government topics. You will be asked 10 questions, and need to answer 6 of them correctly to pass. These 10 questions are selected from approximately 100 possible questions, which are available online so that you can prepare for all of the potential questions you may be asked.
You will be told the results of your tests right away. You do have a second chance if you fail either of the tests the first time around; a second opportunity will be scheduled within 60 to 90 days from the first interview. If you fail either test again, however, your application to naturalize will be denied. You can appeal a denial, but chances are low that the appeal will be accepted. It’s best to prepare with an attorney in order to create a good strategy for test preparation. This way, you can avoid receiving a denial in the first place.
You can access the official USCIS study materials here.