new-civics-test Vida Kazemi is sworn in as a US citizen by Allen Chrysler, immigration services officer, during a drive-up naturalization ceremony. US Citizenship and Immigration Services held the ceremony after in-person services were temporarily suspended due to the spread of COVID-19.
Image via AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The new civics test has more questions, and some of them are worded with inaccurate information.

The Trump administration is making the process of becoming a naturalized citizen more difficult for immigrants. On Dec. 1, immigrants who wish to become naturalized US citizens will have to take an entirely new civics test, and this latest version is much more challenging. 

According to immigration advocates, the Trump administration created a new test without community input, heightened the testing standards, and changed the answers to some of the previous questions. The Trump administration never explained why it made the necessary changes so late into President Donald Trump’s term. The revision will ultimately exclude eligible immigrants from accessing citizenship. 

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“The outrageous new test is a last-minute effort to cut off more of our family, loved ones, and community members who already struggle enough to go through the long process of obtaining citizenship,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA, the largest mid-Atlantic immigrant advocacy organization.

The Old Test vs. the New One

In an interview with The Americano, Diego Iñiguez-López, policy and campaigns manager at the National Partnership for New Americans, said that immigrants who studied using the old test guide would find the new one much more difficult. 

For example, previously, people studied a guide that included 100 questions. Out of those 100 possible questions, the test included ten questions. To pass the civics test, people had to get six out of 10 correct. 

The new test includes 128 possible questions. Out of 128 possible questions, the test will consist of 20 questions. To pass the civics test, people have to get 12 out of 20 correct. 

“The test will be more difficult, especially for people with limited English proficiency,” Iñiguez-López said. 

Inaccurate Questions on the New Test

The Trump administration also changed the language on some of the questions, which may confuse applicants. For example, the old test asked: “Who does a US senator represent?” The correct answer is: “All people of the state.”

According to Iñiguez-López, the new test asks: “Who does a US senator represent?” The answer is: “All citizens of the state.” However, the correct answer (not included in the test) is all people, not all citizens. The Constitution says that senators (and all lawmakers, for that matter) represent all people living in those states. 

“This is consistent with the Trump administration’s effort to exclude immigrants based on immigration status on the census count and their political representation,” Iñiguez-López said. 

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Iñiguez-López also said 9 million people currently qualify for US citizenship, many of whom are Latinos. However, because of the application’s price (now $725) and because many immigrants do not speak English, they do not go forward with attempting to become naturalized citizens. Immigration advocates are hoping President-elect Joe Biden will reverse the new test. 

For more information and free resources about how to get prepared for the new test, click on the state where you live to find the local immigration advocates in your area.