on this day, ask yourself

May 1, 2007 § 2 Comments

if you could pass the immigration test? I’ve gathered a few questions which I found to be particularly challenging, obtuse, or just plain tricky because there isn’t a straight answer if you put any thought into it.  These questions are based on the test that everyone who is naturalized has to take in order to get citizenship. 


The test is under revision now, and by 2008, there may be a new set of questions.  Apparently, there is no standardized test that all INS officials must give to naturalize citizen hopefuls. Also, there is often more than one correct answer to any given question.  Finally, what the person giving the test is looking for is a mere memorization of facts, like how many strips are there on the flag? (a. 13)  While I tend to agree that there should be some kind of an understanding of a country before becoming a citizen, all the questions and answers really add up to is flat knowledge. 

All of this is really just mere conjecture on my part though, since I’ve never been through the process, nor watched the test as it was given.  What I have witnessed is the fear and anxiety that immigrants encounter in preparing for this test, which is just one of the many hurdles in becoming a US citizen. 

So, on with a few questions from the Washington Post:

(I think the “right” answer really matters less than just giving you a taste of the kinds of questions that people are asked. Ask yourself how you would answer.)

1. What do the stars on the flag mean?

2. Who elects the president of the United States? (oooh, this one is so tricky!)

3. Can you name the two senators from your state?

4. What is the supreme law of the United States?

5. Where does freedom of speech come from?

6. What special group advises the president?

7. Who helped the Pilgrims in America? (now, that’s just mean!)

8. Which president freed the slaves? (“freed” the slaves, what kind of history is this?)

9. Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? (yes, that is something we should all be asking ourselves)


§ 2 Responses to on this day, ask yourself

  • R. says:

    The questions might seem a pain, specially considering you will probably only need to know them for that one time, but if you give yourself time to round up the answers, you should be okay. It might not be stuff your average american cares about, but at least your average american is supposed to have acquired that knowledge while in school sometime. Supposed to.

    I remember while waiting to take the exam, I was worried about a couple of questions I didn’t have answers to. I managed to get the answers from people in the waiting room, but crazily enough, there were people getting *all* their answers there for the first time, and trying to memorize them on the spot!!!!

    My mother was taking a citizenship class a couple of months ago (her exam is not till late ’08), and she tells me there were a lot of people there who had no idea of what was going on. And their test was coming right up.

    I think following national news would probably make learning the answers to a lot of these much easier.

    Other than that, best of luck to anyone taking the test.

  • lara says:

    Thanks for your comment.
    I wanted to clarify a bit- I didn’t mean that the questions are unnecessary, but more that these questions do not amount to some “real” historical knowledge of the US.

    Thanks for sharing your personal stories, and wish your mother the best of luck on her test and with the rest of the citizenship process. It seems crazy to me that many citizen hopefuls are unaware of the test. And, yes, I too hope that the increased media coverage will help spread the word about this part of the process.

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