How to Prepare for the U.S.
Citizenship Test and Interview
How to Prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview
More than 7.5 million people became naturalized U.S. citizens over the past 10 years. Yet, there are millions more eligible permanent residents (green card holders) that don’t take the next step because they're worried about the citizenship test and interview.
You can do it. In fact, many resources are available to help you prepare for the U.S. citizenship interview and test. When you know what to expect and do some preparation, you can become a U.S. citizen. 90 percent of applicants pass the test on the first attempt. The interview and test happen near the end of the naturalization time line.
- Your background
- Evidence supporting your case
- Your place and length of residence
- Your character
- Your attachment to the Constitution and
- Your willingness to take an Oath of Allegiance
Review your N-400 application carefully before attending the appointment. The USCIS officer will use the application to test your English and to confirm that the information you have given is correct. If there are any differences between answers on application and your supporting documents, be prepared to explain the reason. Likewise, you should be prepared to offer any additional information. For example, you'll need to provide details of your time outside the United States if you took a recent trip abroad. Your ability to understand the questions and answers in English is part of the interview.
In most cases these changes to your application are insignificant. A new job, a new address, or even a new child generally will not affect your eligibility to naturalize. Some changes may affect your eligibility:
- If you have traveled abroad for a period of greater than six months.
- If you have been arrested for certain crimes or otherwise interfered with the good moral character requirement.
- If you have recently divorced the U.S. citizen who you are using as the basis of your N-400 eligibility (LPR with 3 years of marriage to a U.S. citizen).
In these situations, we highly recommended that you consult with an immigration lawyer before attending the naturalization interview.
Remember, your ability to understand and speak English will be evaluated from the moment the USCIS officer meets you. If you don’t understand a question, it’s okay to ask the officer to rephrase it.
During your interview, a USCIS officer will test your ability to read, write, and speak English (unless you are exempt from the English requirements). Your English skills will be tested in the following ways:
- Reading -- To test your ability to read in English, you must read one sentence, out of three sentences, in a manner suggesting to the USCIS officer that you understand the meaning of the sentence.
- Writing -- To test your ability to write in English, you must write one sentence, out of three sentences, in a manner that would be understandable as written to the USCIS officer.
- Speaking -- Your ability to speak English is determined by your answers to questions normally asked by USCIS officers during the naturalization eligibility interview on Form N-400.
Several FREE study tools are available from USCIS to help you prepare for the English test.
Reading Vocabulary Flash Cards
Writing Vocabulary Flash Cards
Reading Test Vocabulary List
You will also take a civics test to evaluate your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. Unless you are exempt, USCIS will administer the test in English. Even if you're exempt from the English test, you will need to take the civics test in the language of your choice or qualify for a waiver. USCIS recently updated the civics test in 2020.
For the last several years, USCIS has administered a version of the civics test with 100 possible questions. If you filed your N-400 application before December 1, 2020, you'll be taking this version of the test. During your test, you will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions in English. You must answer correctly six of the 10 questions to pass the civics test in English.
However, applicants for naturalization who filed Form N-400 on or after December 1, 2020, will take the newer 2020 version of the civics test. You'll need to study 128 questions about American government and history. With this version, the USCIS officer will ask you to answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions. To pass the 2020 version of the civics test, you must answer at least 12 questions correctly. All questions on the test are asked orally.
Several FREE study tools are available from USCIS to help you prepare for the history/civics portion of the test. Are you anxious to learn about U.S. history? Start with Learn About the United States, a comprehensive booklet full of quick civics lessons.
LEARN & EXPLORE
128 Civics Questions and Answers
USCIS Civics Practice Test
There are exemptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements that are available to certain individuals who qualify.
English Language Exemptions
When preparing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you have the opportunity to select certain exemptions. You are exempt from the English language requirement if you are:
- Age 50 or older at the time of filing Form N-400 and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years or more. This is also known as the “50/20” exception; or
- Age 55 or older at the time of filing Form N-400 and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years or more. This is also known as the “55/15” exception.
Civics Test Accommodations
Even if you qualify for the “50/20” or “55/15” English language exemptions listed above, you must still take the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test. If you quality for the exemptions listed above, you will be permitted to take the civics test in your native language. To use an interpreter during the civics test, you will also need to:
- Bring an interpreter with you to your interview.
- Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.
If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you will also be given a simplified version of the civics test.
Exemptions for Individuals with Disabilities and/or Impairments
If you have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prevents you from demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of the English language and/or civics requirements for naturalization, you may qualify for an exemption to certain parts of the naturalization test. You must submit an original Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, at the time of filing Form N-400. The Form N-648 must have been prepared by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist less than six months prior to filing Form N-400.
After you file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, begin keeping a file that includes a copy of the application, originals of the supporting documentation that was submitted with your application, and any letters you receive from USCIS. This will make it easier to find and review the information before your interview.
The naturalization interview is the final hurdle in becoming a U.S. citizen. If all goes well, you could have a decision after the interview. Learn more about what happens at the naturalization interview.
Will I pass the test?
CitizenPath's self-directed service makes preparing USCIS forms easy. Designed by lawyers, our platform will help you eliminate the common errors that create delays, rejections and even denials. The low-cost service also provides alerts if you answer a question in a way that might be a problem. We'll make sure you meet all the citizenship requirements before applying. Most people can prepare the naturalization package within a couple of hours.
The online service is a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we've got your back -- CitizenPath provides live customer support and guarantees that USCIS will approve your application.