What You Need to Know About the New U.S. Citizenship Test

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You may have heard that the new USCIS Naturalization 2020 Civics Test is longer and harder, but here is what else you need to know.

1. Breaking News: On December 1, 2020, USCIS began administering the new 2020 version of the Civics test for non-exempt naturalization applicants. The prior update to the citizenship test was in 2008.

2. More to Study: The question bank is larger. Previously, applicants were asked civics questions from 100 potential questions. There are now 128 civics questions to study for the exam.

3. More Questions: You will be asked more questions. Previously, applicants were asked 6 to 10 questions. The questions concluded after the applicant answered 6 questions correctly, or at after ten questions were asked, whichever happened first. Now applicants will be asked 20 questions, even if all answers given are correct.

4. More Answers: You need to know more correct answers. Previously, applicants needed to get 6 out of 10 questions correct. Now applicants will need to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly.

5. More Details. There are changes to the wording of certain questions and answers (ex. Senators represent citizens of that state versus all residents). There are also more detailed questions regarding civics and history. Please review the new 2020 questions and answers before your interview!
Fun tip: Consider listening to Hamilton to learn more about the new Federalist questions.

6. Be Up-to-Date: Remember that your answers need to be correct at the time of your interview. We just had a huge 2020 election. Especially with regards to recently elected officials, please be sure that your answers are current on your interview date.

7. Can You Take the Old Test? Maybe.
If your application for citizenship was filed before December 1, 2020, you will still be able to take the 2008 version of the civics test. Please refer to the below link to USCIS.gov and print this information and bring it with you to your interview.

Naturalization Application Filing Date (also known as a Received Date)Applicable Test at Initial Exam, Re-exam, or N-336
Before Dec. 1, 20202008 version of the civics test
On or after Dec. 1, 20202020 version of the civics test
Graphics from USCIS.gov.

8. English Language Exemptions:
You are exempt from the English language requirement, but are still required to take the civics test (bring a translator to take in your native language) if you are:

  • 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).

9. Shorter Test with Age
What if you qualify for the 65 /20 Special Consideration? *
*65 birthdays for you, 20 for your green card
The 65/20 applicants are given special consideration and only have to study 20 designated test questions. For more information about the 65/20 special consideration and other exceptions, see the USCIS Exceptions and Accommodations page.

  • If you qualify for the 65/20 special consideration and are required to take the 2020 version of the civics test based on your application filing or received date on or after Dec. 1, 2020, you will only need to study the civics questions that are marked with an asterisk found at the end of each question. From the list of 128 civics test questions, there are 20 questions that you will need to study under this special consideration. 
  • To pass the 2020 version of the civics test as someone who qualifies for the 65/20 special consideration, the USCIS officer will ask you to answer 10 out of the 20 civics test questions. You must answer at least 6 out of 10 correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

Do you have questions about this process? Do you want help preparing for this interview? Please contact our office. Schedule time to talk here: Let’s Collaborate.

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