U.S. Law Center

Understanding the U.S. naturalization test

If you are an immigrant living in California who wishes to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you likely already know that you will need to pass a naturalization test as part of the process. The first step entails scheduling an initial interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services after filling out an interview application.

At this interview, the USCIS officer will ask you questions about your background and your application. Keep in mind that the purpose of this interview is not to question your right to become a U.S. citizen but rather to give your interviewer the opportunity to speak with you in English to determine if you sufficiently understand the English language to appropriately answer the questions.

After this initial interview, but not necessarily on the same day, you must pass two separate written tests: an English test and a civics test that deals with your rights and duties as an American citizen. You can attend a series of naturalization classes prior to taking these tests if you so desire.

English test

The English test consists of the following three parts:

  1. Speaking test
  2. Reading test
  3. Writing test

Your initial interview counts as your speaking test. For the reading test, you will need to read three English sentences out loud, getting at least one of them correct. The writing test consists of your listening to three additional English sentences and writing at least one of them correctly.

Civics test

On your civics test, you will need to answer 10 multiple-choice questions, answering at least six of them correctly. The questions will deal with subjects such as American holidays, government, history, geography, etc.

Retaking the test(s)

Should you fail to correctly answer the required number of questions on either of your naturalization tests, you can retake whichever test(s) you need to within 90 days after your first attempt. During this interim period, you can attend naturalization classes and/or do whatever else you need to do to improve your abilities to speak, read and write English.

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