Administration Changes Citizenship Test

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The Trump administration is planning on changing the current U.S. citizenship test. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says the revisions will ensure the test “continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant’s civics knowledge.” The citizenship test, originally created in 1986 while under USCIS’s predecessor known as the Immigration and Naturalization Services, was last revised in 2008, under the George W. Bush administration. The acting director of USCIS, Ken Cuccinelli, says the revisions are necessary to ensure the test continues to be current and relevant “in order to help potential new citizens fully understand the meaning of U.S. citizenship and the values that unite all Americans.” Cuccinelli also spoke about how critics are worried the test revision is being used for ulterior motives, such as making it more difficult for legal permanent residents to obtain their citizenship. He concedes that, while ulterior motives may always exist, critics will be disappointed because this will “look like just another version of a civics exam.” USCIS says it formed a committee from across agencies to begin the process of revising the citizenship test in December of 2018, consulting a variety of adult education experts in the matter. In its current form, the citizenship test is comprised of 10 questions chosen at random from a pool of 100 questions. In order to pass, applicants must correctly answer 6 of 10, with a 90% pass rate. In 2018, USCIS says it naturalized over 750,000, which is accordingly a five year high. Former USCIS director Francis Cissna says it is imperative to update the exam every decade in order to “ensure that the civics education requirements remain a meaningful aspect of the naturalization process.” A pilot of the new exam is set to roll out for applicants taking it in Fall of 2019.