Module 4

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Module 4: Identifying the English Language Skills and Civics Knowledge Needed for Naturalization

Objective

This module will provide you with a basic understanding of the English language skills and civics knowledge needed for the naturalization interview and test.

What is Required of Applicants for the Naturalization Test?

In order to become a naturalized citizen, a person (unless otherwise exempt) must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language, and have a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States. A USCIS officer will determine an applicant’s ability to speak English based on the applicant’s answers to questions normally asked during the eligibility interview on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

What are the Components of the Naturalization Test?

photo of an instructor at a chalkboardDuring the naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will ask applicants questions about their application and background to determine eligibility for U.S. citizenship. The applicant will also take an English and civics test unless he or she qualifies for an exception or accommodation. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking. The civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics.

Civics Test: There are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test. During the naturalization interview, applicants will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. The civics test is an oral test. The USCIS officer will ask the questions aloud and the applicant must provide a verbal response. Applicants must correctly answer 6 of the 10 questions to pass the civics test.

Reading Test: Applicants must read aloud 1 out of 3 reading test sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to read English. The reading vocabulary list contains the words that make up the reading test sentences. The reading vocabulary list is publicly available; the reading test sentences are not. The reading test content focuses on civics and history topics.

Writing Test: Applicants must write 1 out of 3 sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to write English. The writing vocabulary list contains the words that make up the writing test sentences. The writing vocabulary list is publicly available; the writing test sentences are not. The content focuses on civics and history topics. The writing test is a dictation. The USCIS officer will ask the applicant to write the sentence that the USCIS officer reads aloud.

Speaking Test: A USCIS officer will determine an applicant’s ability to speak English based on the applicant’s answers to questions normally asked during the eligibility interview on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. If the applicant generally understands and can respond meaningfully to questions relevant to the determination of eligibility, the applicant will demonstrate the ability to speak English.

What English Skills are Needed for the Naturalization Interview and Test?

Applicants will need to demonstrate four English skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Applicants will also need to know how to act on basic commands, follow directions, and respond to questions during the naturalization interview. 

How Can I Best Prepare Learners for the Naturalization Interview and Test?

As a volunteer, you will play a key role in preparing learners for the naturalization interview and test. The best way to prepare them is to know what is required of them. USCIS highlights promising practices from its grant recipients that may provide you with some creative ideas you can use. Module 5 will provide you with strategies you can use in your program. Also, here are some ideas on how to prepare learners for the naturalization interview and test:

Prepare for the Interview: Watch the video, the USCIS Naturalization Interview and Test, with learners. The video simulates what the naturalization interview and test are like at a USCIS office. Conduct mock interviews with learners. Incorporate “small talk" activities. Show learners how to respond to basic commands. Demonstrate how to ask for clarification or for repetition if they do not understand what is being asked by the USCIS officer. Tell learners to make a copy of their Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and to review it and their responses, prior to their interview.

Prepare for the Test: Disseminate the publicly-available reading and writing vocabulary to learners. Develop sentences based on these vocabulary words and have learners practice reading and writing the sentences. Use USCIS lesson plans and educational resources. Make sure learners know the answers to the 100 civics questions. Create a mock test environment for learners (for example, have learners go through security and meet with a USCIS officer). Show learners where to access free USCIS online resources and interactive practice exercises for the civics and English portions of the naturalization interview and test.

Summary

This module was designed to provide you with an overview of the skills and knowledge needed for the naturalization interview and test. Learn what is required of learners so that you can help prepare them for success.

USCIS Resources

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