Wednesday, August 20, 2008

USCIS Plans to Implement New Citizenship Test on October 1, 2008

I am wonder if the Minuteman members, Nativists and Anti Immigrants will pass that Test? Thanks to Kyledeb for a great article of a great example of English lessons from Anti Immigrants and the so called Nativists. Do you think they have at least a GED? Asking for a Bachelor degree it would be too much to ask for. right? Click here:

This October, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin using a new test to assess naturalization applicants’ English language ability (reading, writing, and speaking) and knowledge of U.S. history and civics. The new test has been in development for more than eight years. CLINIC participated in a working group of advocates who met regularly with USCIS to provide input in the test redesign process beginning in summer 2002. The impetus for the new test was a 1997 report by the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform which criticized the current test for not assessing a meaningful knowledge of U.S. history and civics, not being standardized, and relying too much on rote memorization. CLINIC and others were very concerned that the new test might be considerably more difficult than the current test, and might pose a barrier to low-literate and limited English proficient applicants. Chapter six of CLINIC’s report, A More Perfect Union, describes the history of the test redesign process and the advocacy efforts to ensure a fair test. The report is available on the CLINIC website at:

Timeline for Implementation
All citizenship applicants who file their N-400 on or after October 1, 2008 will take the new test. Applicants who file before October 1, but have their interview after that date will have a choice of taking either the old or new test. Beginning on October 1, 2009, everyone will take the new test, regardless of when they filed. However, for those who choose to take the old test before October 1, 2009, fail, and are re-tested after that date, the old test will be given. (This is to ensure that applicants are given the same version of the test on each attempt.)

Format for the New Test
The format for the new test is very similar to the current test. There is no change to the English speaking test. Applicants’ speaking skills will continue to be tested through their ability to answer questions normally asked in the course of the naturalization interview, such as questions about the N-400 and small talk at the beginning of the interview. For the English reading test, applicants will be given up to three sentences and must be able to read one sentence correctly in order to pass. The sentences will be questions about U.S. history and civics. A list of vocabulary words that will be used in the reading sentences is available for study at:

For the English writing (dictation) test, the USCIS officer will give the answer to the question the applicant just read, so the reading and writing test items will be linked. For example, an applicant might be asked to read, “Who was the first President?” and then to write, “Washington was the first President.” Applicants will be given up to three dictation sentences and must be able to write one sentence correctly in order to pass this portion of the test. A study list of vocabulary words that will be used in the dictation sentences is available at: The sentences that will be used for the reading and writing tests are not available in advance, only the vocabulary words.

Scoring Guidelines
USCIS has published scoring guidelines for the English test that include the following points:
For the English speaking test, USCIS officers are required to repeat and rephrase questions until they are satisfied that the applicant either fully understands the question or does not understand English.
To pass the English reading test, the applicant must be able to read one sentence without extended pauses. The applicant may omit short words that do not interfere with meaning, or make pronunciation or intonation errors that do not interfere with meaning.
To pass the English writing test, the applicant must be able to write one sentence that has the same general meaning as the dictated sentence. The applicant may omit short words that do not interfere with meaning, and may make some grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors that do not interfere with meaning.
The full scoring guidelines are available at:

The History/Civics Test
The U.S. history and civics test is based on a new list of 100 study questions available at: Much of the content is the same as the current test but some new content, such as geography, has been added and other content, such as rights and responsibilities, has been expanded. Also, many of the current test questions have been re-phrased in an effort to focus on meaning. For example, “What country did we fight during the Revolutionary War?” has been changed to, “Why did the colonists fight the British?” As a result, many of the questions have more than one correct answer. The format is the same as the current test. Applicants will be asked ten questions and must answer at least six questions correctly in order to pass. The history/civics test will be an oral test.

1 comment:

steve said...

If the new standard for spelling becomes "the ability to convey meaning", then one could regularize some spellings.

Here are 3 attempts at reducing irregularity in print:

"The standard for new spelling is the ability to convey *meening."
This notation removes superfluous letters and standardizes some long vowels before a consonant:
rate reed rite rote

Lojikl: The standrd for nu speling iz the ability t kunvae meening.

Webster: Ðè standàrd fôr néw spelìng iz ði àbilìty tü cònvey ménìng.

Such renderings would probably still be open to complaint and to charges that the spellings were uneducated.

Part of being educated is learning which of the plausible spellings of a "speech sound" is the one that was picked back in the early 1700’s.

The Spelling Society has always been for standardized spelling. They just want a new standard with less irregularity.

In order to get there they might have support variant spelling in correspondence.

Speed readers don't like variant spellings.