Administration

Revised U.S. citizenship test requires more correct answers to pass

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Friday announced a new naturalization test with more than two dozen additional questions and a higher number of correct answers required to receive a passing score. 

The agency announced that the updated oral exam, set to go into effect Dec. 1, will include 128 questions about American government and history, compared to the 100 included in the previous version from 2008. 

While the current test requires individuals to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly, the 2020 version has a requirement of 12 out of 20 correct answers to pass. 

According to the updated pool of questions and answers posted on the department website, the first set of questions spans three categories: principles of American government, system of government, and rights and responsibilities. 

The test also includes questions on American history as well as U.S. symbols and holidays. 

While the 2008 test, implemented toward the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, required test takers to name one of the three branches of government, the new exam asks immigrants to name all of them. 

There are some questions that are completely new, including “Why is the Electoral College important?”

Some answers to traditional questions have also been changed. For example, the correct answer listed in the 2000 test for “Who does a U.S. senator represent?” was “all the people of the state.” 

Now, the correct answer is “citizens of their state.” 

This change comes as President Trump has sought to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census count. The census is used to determine federal funding and congressional seat allocations to states. 

USCIS said in its announcement that the English speaking and writing components of the exam have not changed from the previous version.

Joseph Edlow, the USCIS deputy director for policy, told The Washington Post on Friday that the new citizenship test prepares immigrants “to become fully vested members of American society.”

“USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent,” he said in a statement. 

According to the Post, the new exam was presented to community organizations and volunteers as part of a pilot program over the summer.

USCIS said in a statement to The Hill on Saturday that the new test is “part of a decennial update to ensure that it remains an instrument that comprehensively assesses applicants’ knowledge of American history, government and civic values.”

The agency added in its statement that the new exam still requires a passing score of 60 percent, with the number of correct answers required adjusted to account for the new questions added.

The new exam does not have the geography section included in the 2008 version because these questions “were not sufficiently tied to the statutory standard,” the department told The Hill. 

Doug Rand, an immigration policy adviser under former President Obama’s administration, tweeted Friday that the new test is “unnecessary, unjustified, overly complex, & shamelessly ideological.”

This is an obvious attempt to throw one more obstacle in front of immigrants legally eligible for US citizenship,” Rand wrote, adding that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration should restore the previous version upon taking office in January.

Tags 2020 Census American history Barack Obama citizenship test Donald Trump George W. Bush immigration policy Joe Biden The Washington Post U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

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