1. How to Prepare for the English Test
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
The official conducting your interview will evaluate your ability to understand and speak English from the moment you walk in the door. Remember:
- If you don’t understand a question, it’s always okay to ask the USCIS officer to repeat it or rephrase it.
- You don’t have to speak perfect English. You just need to show that you know enough to get by through basic communication.
- You can study for the English portion of the test by practicing your vocabulary, your writing skills, and your listening skills. USCIS provides several tools you can use to study, as well
2. How to Prepare for the Civic Test
You will also take a civics test to evaluate your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government. Unless you qualify for language accommodation, 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 an N-648 waiver.
You may have heard that USCIS updated the civics test in 2020. This is true, but the Biden administration reversed this decision. There will be a brief period that applicants can choose from either test, however, anyone can take the older 2008 version of the test.
If you have the option and choose to take the 2020 version of the civics test, you will need to study 128 questions about the American government and history. You must answer correctly 12 of the 20 questions (or 60%) to pass the 2020 civics test. All questions on the test are asked orally.
If you decide to take the permanent 2008 civics test, you must study 100 questions about the American government and history. You must answer correctly 6 of the 10 questions (or 60%) to pass the 2008 civics test. All questions on the test are asked orally.
The best way to prepare for the civics portion of the test is to study the list of potential questions that USCIS provides. Your interviewer will only ask you questions from this list; your answers do not have to be perfect.
Aside From the Citizenship Test, What Else Happens at Your Citizenship Interview?
During your citizenship interview, you’ll take the citizenship test – but you’ll also be interviewed by the US. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. The officer will ask to see your identification, place you under oath, and ask you questions that may relate to things like:
- Your background
- Your character
- How attached you are to the US. Constitution
- Whether you have evidence supporting your case
- Where you live and how long you’ve lived there
- Your willingness to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States
You’ll certainly need to review your entire N-400 application before you show up at your citizenship interview – it’s what the USCIS official will use to test your English skills and to confirm that the answers you give are correct. If the official interviewing notices any differences between the answers on your application and your oral answers, he or she may ask you to explain why. You should be prepared to offer any information you have. Everything that happens during this part of the interview is part of your English test; the official is determining whether you can communicate in English. You don’t have to speak with perfect grammar to pass. You simply have to show that you speak enough English to get by.