As of 2008, the U.S. citizenship exam, taken by all new immigrants who are vying to become naturalized, will be significantly altered. According to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), all questions on the exam have been revamped in an attempt to move away from overly-simplistic, easily memorized, trivia-esque answers, to ones that require deeper understanding of the history, institutions, and values of the U.S.A. Ultimately, the goal is to develop questions which will reflect knowledge more relevant to true U.S. civic understanding and American democracy.
The USCIS will distribute the new exam to 10 chosen cities across the U.S., including Albany, NY, as part of a pilot program designed to polish the final exam. The new test will be implemented nation wide in 2008.
“It is important for immigrants to start thinking about these changes now, since the entire process, from the moment one decides to study for the citizenship exam until actually enrolling and successfully completing all requirements, usually takes several months. All those interested in possibly taking the citizenship exam should note these changes now as they take steps to prepare for future exams,” Senator Dilan noted.
The exam will maintain the current basic format: 10 questions given orally, in English. As with the old exam 6 correct answers are required to pass. For many years these ten questions were randomly chosen from a list of 100 that was maintained by the USCIS (accessible at http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/M-623.pdf). However, the new exam has incorporated questions with different vocabulary and content aiming to make the exam more meaningful and coherent.
In response to the U.S. CIS announcement about these changes, Senator Dilan asserted, “simply changing the test isn’t enough; we need to be thinking about how to prepare immigrants for taking it…in order to really help immigrants and to avoid making the test considerably harder.”
Information and educational resources addressing changes to the citizenship exam are available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website, accessible at http://www.uscis.gov.
Senator Dilan noted that “the diversity of our communities, composed of individuals from countries throughout Latin and Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern and Western Europe and many other regions around the world, is one of our greatest assets and it is our civic duty to help facilitate an easy transition to the new exam for all immigrants.”