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How to Prepare for the Citizenship Test

How to Prepare for the Citizenship Test

So you’ve applied for Naturalization and have made it toward one of the final steps of the process – the U.S. Citizenship (Naturalization) Test. This test has two parts. The first part is an English test to assess your ability to read, write, and speak English. The second is a civics test, to assess your knowledge of U.S. history and government.

If you have a medical disability that makes you unable to take the English and civics tests, you can request an exemption by filing Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.

English Test

The English test has three parts: speaking, reading, and writing. Note that you can be exempted from the English language requirement if you are either:

  • Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (Green Card holder) in the United States for 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).
  • Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).

However, even if you apply for the above exemptions, you must still take the civics test in your native language. Note that if you take the test in your native language, you must bring an interpreter with you to the interview. This interpreter must be fluent in English and your native language.


The speaking portion of the test isn’t in the form of a traditional test. Instead, it is going to be assessed during the interview where the immigration officer is also assessing your eligibility for naturalization. Because of this format, the best way to prepare is to get more comfortable engaging in a conversation in English. This includes understanding others when they are speaking and being able to respond appropriately.

However, USCIS does have an interactive practice test so you can study listening to commands you are likely to hear during the interview. This practice test plays an audio of commands and you must match them to the appropriate image. You will likely need to use Internet Explorer or another Flash-Enabled browser for the test to run. Alternatively, USCIS has the same practice test (without audio) in PDF and flash card formats. (Note, clicking on the “PDF” and “flash card” links will download a file).

Additionally, USCIS has two vocabulary self-tests to help you practice words and phrases you encountered in your naturalization application and will likely hear during the interview. These are labeled as “Self-Test 1” and “Self-Test 2.”


For the reading portion of the test, you will be asked to read aloud one of three sentences correctly. USCIS provides a Reading Test Vocabulary List to help you study for this portion of the test. They also provide a PDF document to help you make your own flash cards to study the vocabulary words on that list. You will notice that the words focus on civics and U.S. history.


The writing portion of the test is similar to the reading one, except now you have to be able to write out one of three sentences correctly. Much like with the reading test, USCIS also provides a Writing Test Vocabulary List. The PDF document to make your own flash cards for the writing portion can be found here. These words are also focused on civics and U.S. history.

Civics Test

For the civics component of the test, you will be asked 10 questions out of a possible 100. Of those 10 questions, you must get at least 6 right. This is a fairly straightforward part of the exam. USCIS has all 100 questions in a study guide which you can access here.

There is a lot to study, but by simply memorizing the questions and answers to these questions, you have a very good chance of passing this portion of the test. For questions that have multiple possible answers, you usually only need to name two or three of those possible answers to pass.

If you are 65 years old or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years, there are only 20 possible questions that they might ask, instead of the total of 100. Those questions are marked with an asterisk in the complete list. Alternatively, USCIS provides those 20 questions in a separate document which you can access here.

USCIS also provides these study guides in Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. All of these can be accessed here.

Final Note: You have two opportunities to take the English and civics tests per application. If you fail any portion of the test during your first interview, you will be retested on the portion of the test that you failed between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview.

If you need additional guidance or need help with any other part of your application, you can schedule an initial consultation with us today, don't hesitate to contact us at (949) 478-4963.

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