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October 02, 2007 03:39 AM UTC

Could You Be a U.S. Citizen?

  • by: Haners

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

So the U.S. Citizenship department came up with a new exam to test legal immigrant’s knowledge of the country that they want to be citizens of.  Here is a link to 12 of the questions. 


Go ahead and give it a shot (no cheating!).  Could you pass the test that legal immigrants have to?

P.S.  I distributed the test around the office.  Two people got 100%.  Two more got above 85%.  One got 58%.  But I’m sure this crowd will do well.

How hard was this test for you?

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23 thoughts on “Could You Be a U.S. Citizen?

  1. I missed one.  Granted, I’m pretty sure it was b/c I mis-clicked.  I mean, of course I know who the US fought in WWII!  🙂

    It seems to me Ive done this before and the test seemed harder.  This one was (thankfully) basic.

  2. A long time ago I helped a couple of folks study for the test (1973). At that time there was a question about Constitution Day. I didn’t know that one.

    1. The ideas of the 27th amendment were around  not long after the country was founded, but the amendment didn’t get passed until the early 1990’s. The amendment for those who don’t know limits pay raises. Basically it makes it little more difficult for Congress to give themselves a pay raise, as an election of the House has to happen before the pay raise takes effect.


  3. as the emphasis on subject matter for schools, continues to focus on math and science, the idea that those who wish to become citizens are not asked math and science questions but rather things to do with our democracy, why should we not be placing the same emphasis for native born students (civics education) as we do for those desiring to be naturalized citizens.

      1. Civics should teach people not just what government is and why it’s important, but also how to be a critically thinking person. Without an understanding of government and critical thinking skills, we’ll just end up with a bunch of cynical people who don’t understand why the system works the way it does.

        I honestly believe that a major reason that Congress has the approval ratings it does, is because many people have unrealistic expectations of government. As in, they expect their representative to just snap their fingers and solve problems. When they can’t they get angry. Policymaking is not nor should it be about a pissing match. Instead it’s about building a consensus. People need to understand how the system really works: it’s slow and deliberative. To get anything done you have to–dare I say–compromise.

    1. I could care less if even an educated person doesn’t know an easily determined fact like the number of amendments, or the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

      There are also some kinds of information, like who we fought in World War II, that I really only expect of people who have had a solid college prepatory education.

      But, every once and a while I come up against information that does stun me, like knowlegable financial professionals who aren’t aware of hurdles in the legislative process like the filibuster in the U.S. Senate and the Presidential veto which have routine impact of day to day contemporary news stories.

      There are also facts that should be second nature to all working people that aren’t taught formally at all.  For example, I was in my second year of law school before I received any formal instruction in income taxation, even the due date for filing a return; and I even took two accounting classes as an undergraduate.  Obviously, I had to know these things to file my own tax returns, but still.

      1. It isn’t important to know every detail of the Revolution, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean war, War in Vietnam etc.  but it IS important to know what they were about in general, who was fighting who and why.  Otherwise you can’t have a clue about our place in relation to the rest of the world today. A general framework of US and world history IS important. 

        And every citizen, not just immigrants, ought to know how are system of government works, the make-up, role and function of the three branches including the difference between houses of congress, terms of office, division of power and yes the role of the filibuster. 

        I got a 100% on the test probably because I was lucky enough to attend junior high at a time and place in which you couldn’t graduate without passing a civics test and our teacher was tough.  He expected us to know our constitution so we could be informed citizens.  If you didn’t know your  rights and responsibilities as a citizen and the way our government works you weren’t going to High School.  Those who failed were allowed to try again but you could not pass go without it.

        It’s a shame that knowing about your own government, your role in it, and a general understanding of the world we live, including science, is considered unimportant in today’s math and reading score driven education. Math and reading are important but what good is reading if you aren’t given the opportunity to use it to learn about the things that have made our lives,the world and our place in the world what they are?

        1. How many people understand the history of the West vs. the Middle East well enough to go beyond “Islam Bad, Christianity Good” right now, and maybe that the Europeans and the Arabs had a bit of a tiff a while back?  How many know enough to really comprehend our relationship with the Native Americans, Hawaiians or Aleuts?  (“Tribal sovereignty means that; it’s sovereign. I mean, you’re a – you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity,” anyone?)

          It is difficult if not impossible to begin addressing any political problem if you do not know the basis and prejudices involved.

          And I think we know what kind of problem we face today when half of the country doesn’t think that the Bill of Rights was a great idea.  What good is it if kids come out of school knowing the word “obsequious” if they don’t comprehend its implications to a free society?

      2. I don’t know if it is still done, but I seem to recall that applicants for citizenship can sometimes get a list of “100 questions” with knowledge that the actual questions that are asked will come from that list.  That sort of approach leads to a memorize these 100 questions or to study classes.

        I am an immigrant who went through the naturalization process myself.  However, I attended K-12 education in Colorado and became naturalized in my sophomore year of college (many years ago).  I didn’t worry about studying and the history & government questions I was asked were simpler than these, e.g.:
          – Why do we celebrate July 4th
          – From whom did we get our independence?
          – Who is the president?  vice-president?  governor?, etc.
        I did fine on that test and I missed one on this test (forgot who wrote declaration of independence).

        However, I think citizenship test would do a little better asking slightly more in-depth questions about roles/interactions of three branches of government or some of the unique features of the constitution rather than a simple list of questions where you take the list and memorize the answers.

        1. I found the full test; one of the questions was “what significant historical event occured on Sept 11, 2001?”  How’s that for deep?

          On the other hand, I wonder how “in depth” a test can be when the majority of average people couldn’t pass it in the current form.  In my view, basic knowledge leads to the urge to learn more, which leads to greater participation.  I don’t see the need to go way deep if the basic knowledge motivates someone to get more in depth on their own

          1. At least not without studying.

            I’m 45 and relying on my junior high school civics class, (Thanks!  Ms. Whomever…) missed one question for an 83% score.  More than passing.

            Yes, basic knowledge does lead one to acquire additional knowledge, but a key factor leading to citizenship is motivation.  And I expect a certain amount of effort and above average intelligence, skill, and motivation.  Noting that an excess in one area can help compensate for deficiencies in other areas.

            The key issue for me is I think we should try to admit the best and brightest, not just the average stick in the mud.

    2. the schools have not been focusing on match and science, but on reading and math. In particular, they have been teaching to the tests, which does not test science (or civics or history or arts or …).  Oddly enough, a number of teachers are pushing to change the curiculum and add other classes, in particular, science. Considering that American science knowledge appears to be at an all time low, and that we are graduating fewer engineers at a time when we need them, it may make sense to step up sciences (and add it to the major tests).

      1. is laughable.  About 40 percent of my third grade son’s effort in completing his math homework is on “Writing in Math” questions.  The actual math is diluted down with garbage that is actually anti-math.  They give him two different ways (one of which is fundamentally flawed)to “estimate” 762 minus 343, and ask him to decide which is more appropriate.  The beauty of patterns, symmetry and the precision of arithmetic is perverted by the attempt to turn math into a chapter of language arts.

        I fear for our future. 

        High school students are required to take only 2 years of math-not four.  At a public hearing on the subject 3 years ago, superintendent Cindy Stevenson told me that they were working on putting more math into other subjects-i.e. social studies, etc.  She said kids won’t take math, so they have to sneak it into the curriculum.  What a leader.

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