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Friday, September 28, 2007

Immigration: New Redesigned Naturalization Test

Links to the new test questions and answers below.

The NYT reports that the Federal immigration authorities yesterday unveiled 100 new questions immigrants will have to study to pass a civics test to become naturalized American citizens.

Several historians said the new questions successfully incorporated more ideas about the workings of American democracy and better touched upon the diversity of the groups — including women, American Indians and African-Americans — who have influenced the country’s history.

Would-be citizens no longer have to know who said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” or who wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But they do have to know what Susan B. Anthony did and who the speaker of the House of Representatives is.

Alfonso Aguilar, a senior official at Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that designs and administers the test, said it was not intended to be punitive.

“We don’t seek to fail anyone,” said Mr. Aguilar, an architect of the test.

Immigration officials said they sought to move away from civics trivia to emphasize basic concepts about the structure of government and American history and geography. In contrast to the old test, which some immigrants could pass without any study, the officials said the new one is intended to force even highly educated applicants to do reviewing.

“This test genuinely talks about what makes an American citizen,” said Emilio Gonzalez, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, speaking at a news conference in Washington.

The $6.5 million redesign was shaped over six years of discussions with historians, immigrant organizations and liberal and conservative research groups. The questions were submitted to four months of pilot testing this year with more than 6,000 immigrants who were applying for naturalization.

The agency will begin to use the revised test on Oct. 1, 2008, leaving a year for aspiring citizens to prepare and for community groups to adjust their study classes.

Link to PDF file of the new 100 questions and answers.

10 Questions From the Redesigned Naturalization Test

1. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

2. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

3. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

4. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

5. What are two rights only for United States citizens?

6. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the

7. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

8. Who was President during World War I?

9. Name one U.S. territory.

10. Why does the flag have 13 stripes?

Link to PDF for answers.


1. twenty-seven (27)

. checks and balances
. separation of powers

3. four hundred thirty-five (435)

. Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).
. You don’t have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.
. Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)
. A male citizen of any race (can vote).

. apply for a federal job
. vote
. run for office
. carry a U.S. passport

. (James) Madison
. (Alexander) Hamilton
. (John) Jay
. Publius

. the Louisiana Territory
. Louisiana

8. (Woodrow) Wilson

. Puerto Rico
. U.S. Virgin Islands
. American Samoa
. Northern Mariana Islands
. Guam

. because there were 13 original colonies
. because the stripes represent the original colonies

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