On December 19, 2006, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will conduct a pilot of a redesigned naturalization test, which will bring greater uniformity to the testing process. Currently, the testing format and content vary among USCIS district offices.

The redesigned process standardizes the English and history portions of the test, as well as the test administration procedures.

Under the current process, applicants for naturalization are tested on their English language skills and their knowledge of U.S. history and government during a naturalization interview. In order to test an applicant’s English language skills, the examiner generally will ask an applicant to read up to three sentences aloud and write up to three sentences, which are dictated to the applicant. These sentences tend to focus on the use of everyday English words and phrases. The applicant is then tested on U.S. history and government by answering up to 10 questions on basic civics and history. Applicants must correctly answer six of the 10 questions in order to pass the test. The pilot test will retain the format of both the English and the history and civics portions of the naturalization test; however, there will be a modification to the content of the questions. The questions in the English section will now be based on civics language. The history and government section of the test will focus on the core principles of American democracy, such as separation of powers and unalienable rights. USCIS believes that these questions will be more meaningful to applicants.

Ten USCIS districts and sub-offices were randomly selected for the pilot testing. Applicants at these sites will not be required to take the pilot test. Instead, all applicants at these sites will be asked whether they would like to participate in the pilot test. If an applicant chooses to take the pilot test and passes, the current test will not be administered. If, however, the applicant fails any part of the pilot test, it will not affect the applicant’s eligibility. The applicant will have the opportunity to take any sections of the current test that the applicant failed on the pilot test without prejudice.

The pilot test will be evaluated for a period of up to four months. After data collection and analysis, USCIS will produce a final version of the redesigned test and produce study guides and work with community-based organizations to help prepare applicants for the new test.