With the intent of creating a more standardized, fair and meaningful naturalization process, a new citizenship exam was designed by the USCIS. The test was redesigned to ensure that naturalization applicants have uniform, consistent test experiences nationwide, and that the civics test can effectively find out if the applicants have a meaningful understanding of U.S. government and history.
The previous version of the test consisted of basic historical facts. The redesigned test ensures prospective citizens develop a deeper and better understanding of US history and government. The new test consists of an overhauled English reading and writing section, as well as new history and government questions.
The following guidelines will determine whether applicants filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization will take the old test or the new citizenship exam:
• file Form N-400 before October 1, 2008, and are scheduled for your interview on or after October 1, 2008 up until October 1, 2009, you can opt to take the old test or the redesigned (new) test.
• file Form N-400 on or after October 1, 2008, you have to take the redesigned (new) test.
• are scheduled for an interview on or after October 1, 2009, regardless of when you filed Form N-400, you should take the redesigned (new) test.
In the civics section, you should answer six of ten questions correctly and this will be an oral examination. In the English section, your speaking, reading and writing ability will be judged. You should read and write at least one sentence in English correctly and possibly more if the Examiner has doubts about your ability to understand English.
If you fail the English and/or civics test during the first examination, you should take the same version of the test, old or the new citizenship exam, when you are retested, even if the retest is scheduled on or after October 1, 2009.
Exemptions to taking the new citizenship exam:
You can be exempted from taking the English test, but you should still take the civics test if you are: aged 50 or older at the time of applying and been a permanent resident (green card holder) in the U.S. for 20 years OR aged 55 or older at the time of applying and been a permanent resident (green card holder) in the U.S. for 15 years
If you come under the exceptions listed above, you should still take the civics test but can take it your native language, but only if your command of spoken English is insufficient to have a valid test in English.
If you are aged 65 or older and been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of applying for citizenship, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.
You may also qualify for a waiver of the tests because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment. Under such circumstances, you should file Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. This form must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist and has to be filed along with the citizenship application.
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