Q&A – What Types Of Questions Are On The Citizenship Test?

Today’s entry: Brian, as the saying goes, those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. My question is regarding the citizenship test. I understand there’s a new version as of December but what types of questions are on it?

Bottom Line: As of December 1st, there is a revamped citizenship test process and scoring system. It’s the first update since 2008. The biggest change is that those seeking citizenship must now answer at least 12 of 20 questions in order to pass. In the last version, ten correct answers were needed to pass. As for the questions themselves, they’re never static. First, there had been 100 possible questions, that’s been increased to 128. Only 20 actually are presented during an oral Citizenship test. For example, some of the static questions include:

  • Name two national holidays.
  • Why does the flag have 50 stars?
  • What is the supreme law of the land?

Second, some of the questions are dynamic, changing over time, for example, Who is one of your state’s U.S. senators now? or Who is the President of the United States now?

As you can probably tell, these questions aren’t gotchas and frankly, most are little more than common knowledge to those who are well informed. That’s why it’s especially troubling that only 39% of Americans would pass the Citizenship test according to a study by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. As unfortunate as that may be, consider that in the same study which determined only 39% of Americans would pass the Citizenship test, 40% said history was their favorite subject in school. What does that tell you? Clearly, there’s an issue with the education establishment.

I know it seems easy to simply blame the education system for any number of issues in our society, however, in many respects, it’s deserved. How effective is our education system if only 39% of adults could pass a citizenship test that only requires you to answer 60% of the questions correctly? That’s an abject failure from my perspective. If anyone feels differently and wants to defend it to me, I’d be curious to hear what your argument would be. Once again, I’m reminded how grateful I am for Florida mandating civics education as part of the curriculum going forward. There’s a lot of work to do. But what about the rest of the country? This should be a priority everywhere.

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