Could you pass the new citizenship test?

By Jorge Rivas Oct 01, 2008

By 1993, I was a 4th grader with limited English, but I could tell you what the Constitution is and how many amendments there are to the constitution. A few years earlier, my mother was the first in our family to submit an application to become a naturalized citizen of the US. We went to our church to pick up sample questions and guides so we could start studying for her citizenship interview. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my mother’s navy blue Buick regal and quizzing her over and over. On our way to church, waiting in line at the grocery store, on weekends, all we did was study the sample questions. After a few months of studying, we drove an hour to a Federal building in Laguna Niguel, CA for her interview. We were both incredibly nervous. To fail the test would have not only meant denying her citizenship but it would have made us both feel unwanted. My mother answered every interview question correctly, and a few months later we went to the Los Angeles convention center for her citizenship ceremony. Since then, she has returned to the church where she got her first sample questions to counsel others through the process. Today, the federal government will start phasing in a new citizenship test that focuses on American concepts and values over standardized testing methods. “The exam is not harder, only more meaningful, said Alfonso Aguilar, chief of the Office of Citizenship at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.” Citizenship applicants will be given 10 out of a possible100 questions and must answer six correctly to pass. They are also required to read and write basic English sentences that focus on civics and undergo an interview to be eligible for citizenship. The previous exam had its problems, but the new exam isn’t a step in the right direction. The new exam goes back to pre-1986 methods that leave some questions up to interpretation and I fear that immigrants could be denied citizenship based on prejudices of the examiner. When my mother walked out of the interview room, she knew she’d answered all the questions correctly. We drove home as naturalized citizens, ,and it was not up to interpretation. Answer new citizenship test questions after the jump… Could you pass the citizenship test? Questions 1. What does the Constitution do? 2. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful? 3. If both the president and the vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president? 4. What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens? 5. Why did the colonists fight the British? 6. What was one important thing that Abraham Lincoln did? 7. What major event happened on Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States? 8. Name one U.S. territory. Answers 1. Sets up the government, defines the government and protects basic rights of Americans. 2. Checks and balances, separation of powers. 3. The speaker of the House. 4. Serve on a jury and vote in a federal election. 5. Because of high taxes (taxation without representation), because the British army stayed in their houses (boarding, quartering) and because they didn’t have self-government. 6. Freed the slaves (Emancipation Proclamation), saved (or preserved) the Union and led the United States during the Civil War. 7. Terrorists attacked the United States. 8. Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services