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Scoring Guidelines for US Citizenship test

10th August 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
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The US citizenship test is the final step in the process of the citizenship application process. An applicant has to clear this test once his/her application gets through. Though it is an easy task, there are applicants who fail in the citizenship test. It is essential that the applicants equip themselves with sufficient knowledge about English and the civics of the country. They can avail the help of the study materials that are available in order to sail through the citizenship test successfully.

US Citizenship Test

Section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) has a provision which requires most of the applicants who are filing their citizenship application to demonstrate an understanding of basic English language. This includes the ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary English. It also requires the applicants to exhibit sufficient knowledge about the U.S. government and its history.

English Test

This is to test the fluency of the applicant in English language. This test is compulsory unless otherwise the applicants get an exemption or waiver from the USCIS. The pattern of the English test is such that the applicant is required to read one out of three sentences and write one out of three sentences correctly.


Scoring pattern of the English Test

Speaking Skill

The verbal skills of an applicant are put to test in this section of the citizenship test. The USCIS officers require the applicant to answer questions normally during the citizenship test and interview. If the applicant is able to comprehend the questions asked by the officer and respond meaningfully to it, then the applicant has exhibited the ability to speak English.

Reading Skill

The applicant should be able to drive home the fact that he/she is able to understand the meaning of the sentence which is given to them during the citizenship test. The USCIS officer is required to stop administering the reading test once the applicant gets it done correctly. The accent of the applicants will not serve as a reason to fail them in the citizenship test. A Pass or fail in this section is awarded based on the following methodology.

An applicant gets a pass if he/she reads a complete sentence without giving any extended pauses while reading. The applicant should be able to read all content words but can omit short words that do not interfere with the meaning of the given sentence. Pronunciation or intonation errors which do not interfere with meaning of the sentence are usually ignored.


An applicant gets a fail if he/she does not read the given sentence and substitutes a word or totally omits it while reading. Pausing while reading, that too, for extended periods of time and making pronunciation or intonation errors which grossly affect the meaning of the sentence are considered as serious issues which eventually leads to the applicant being failed in the citizenship test.

Writing Skill

The applicant should write one out of three sentences in a manner that is understandable by the USCIS Officer. Abbreviations of the dictated word are not permitted in the citizenship test. The USCIS officer is required to stop administering the writing test once the applicant gets it done correctly. Spelling, capitalization, or punctuation errors are generally overlooked until and unless they cause serious misrepresentation of the meaning of the given sentence. A Pass or fail in this section is awarded based on the following methodology.

If the applicant has omitted a few short words and written a sentence that has the same meaning as the one dictated, then it is a clear pass for the applicant. Spelling out numbers or writing them as numerals are also accepted in the citizenship test. Grammatical errors are also ignored provided that they do not affect the real meaning of the given sentence.

The following errors will definitely lead the applicant to fail the citizenship test.
Writing completely nothing or a few isolated words
Illegible writing
Writing a totally different sentence
Having written a sentence which does not communicate the meaning of the dictated sentence
Having used an abbreviation for a dictated word

Scoring Pattern of the Civics Test

This section of the citizenship test requires the applicant to answer six out of ten questions correctly. The USCIS officer is required to stop administering the civics test once the applicant is done with six questions correctly. A Pass or fail in this section is awarded based on the following methodology.
If the applicant provides a correct answer or an alternative phrasing of the correct answer, then he/she gets a pass in this section of the citizenship test. Failing to respond to the question or providing a totally wrong answer will surely cause the applicant to fail.

The applicants should prepare themselves well in advance so that they will not face any difficulty while taking the citizenship test.

Citizenship test
citizenship application

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