Applicant Performance on the Naturalization Test

ByPhillip Kim

Applicant Performance on the Naturalization Test

Section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that naturalization

applicants must demonstrate an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage

in the English language, and have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and

government. As part of a multi-year redesign, the naturalization test was modified to

achieve two basic objectives:

A uniform and consistent testing experience for all applicants
A civics test that can effectively assess an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and

The new test strives to emphasize the founding principles of American democracy and

the rights and responsibilities of citizenship while also serving as an important

instrument to encourage civic learning and attachment to the country.

On October 1, 2008, USCIS began administering the new naturalization test. Up until

October 1, 2009, applicants who had filed for naturalization before October 1, 2008, had

a choice of taking the old test or the new test. On October 1, 2009, following a one-

year transition, the new test became mandatory for all naturalization applicants.

From October 1, 2008 through May 31, 2010, more than 789,000 new naturalization

tests were administered nationwide. For those applicants taking both the English and

civics tests, the overall national pass rate as of May 2010 is 92 percent. Data collected

since October 1, 2008 indicate that applicant performance remains relatively consistent

with that of the previous test. Compared to historical data from USCIS’ internal case

management systems, the current pass rate of 92 percent is similar to that of the old

test, which was 91 percent based on 2008 data.

Background on the Data
USCIS plans to periodically provide information on the national pass rate of applicants

who were administered the new naturalization test. The data reflected above were

taken from internal case management systems used to track naturalization applications

and have been gathered to provide a general snapshot of how applicants are performing

on the revised test. The national pass rate is determined based solely on an applicant’s

first test within the current naturalization application. The data represent applicants

taking the new naturalization test from October 1, 2008 through May 31, 2010. Please

note that test results for each applicant are manually entered into the case

management system and some errors may occur during manual entry. Although every

effort has been undertaken to eliminate any errors made during manual data entry,

errors may exist that would impact the publicized national pass rate.
For More Information, Please Contact:
Fresno Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim
(559) 761-9742

About the author

Phillip Kim administrator