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By Jackson Lanier — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

January 2021 was already going to be a time of transitions for programs that prepare immigrants to become naturalized citizens. In addition to updating the answers to some civics test questions to reflect recent election results, we need to prepare for a transition to a new version of the civics test that poses challenges for our students and programs. And then came the January 6 attack on the U.S. …

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“Statue of Liberty” by Alberto Cruz CC0 1.0

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced a significant revision of the civics test that immigrants take in order to become naturalized citizens. The revised version will be required for all applicants with a filing receipt date of December 1, 2020, and after. The reading, writing, and speaking portions of the test remain the same, but the civics test of U.S. history and government knowledge is substantially changed, lengthier, and arguably more difficult.

New test item content: More difficult

The content of the new civics exam is a combination of current questions (some exactly the same; some modified) and new questions related to U.S. history and government. (The current geography questions have been eliminated.) Some of the new questions and approved answers are more challenging than in the current test. Although an anonymous panel of educators advised on the creation of the items, and this participation presumably helped provide a reality-check on the appropriateness of topics and language, the result is still a more difficult and lengthier set of questions than currently used. …


Bill Bliss

Bill Bliss is a language and civics educator at Language & Communication Associates in Massachusetts.

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