On Oct. 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by the people of France to the U.S. Overlooking New York’s Ellis Island, Lady Liberty used her torch to symbolically light the way for the millions who came to America by boat in the decades that followed, as they had before. In fact it is estimated that 30 million people migrated to the U.S. from 1836 to 1914 alone.
Each year, boat, plane or otherwise, thousands of immigrants to our shores apply to become citizens of the United States having to pass a rigorous civics test in the process. As natives, we may take the answers to these questions for granted though the test is said to challenge some historians and teachers. With questions like who signs bills to become laws, what is the supreme law of the land, what special group advises the President, what territory did the U.S. purchase from France in 1803, and how many changes or amendments are there to the Constitution, could you pass the U.S. Citizenship test?
When foreigners wish to become Americans, they must meet stringent eligibility requirements. These include a five-year residency, the ability to read, write, and comprehend English well enough to test in it, and an understanding of the history and fundamentals of the U.S. government as demonstrated in an oral civics test–part of their naturalization interview before an immigration officer. And while most of us preferred the old multiple choice format in school, the U.S. citizenship test is not administered that way providing an even greater challenge for those who undertake it. Imagine coming to America if Mandarin is your native tongue, or Japanese, or perhaps Swahili, and mastering language, law, and history well enough to talk about it before a U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) official.
While immigrants can enroll in citizenship courses online or in the classroom, test questions remain daunting even for current U.S. citizens, to which Rochester, New York resident Barbara Rose can attest. When her daughter took on a second job teaching the course, Rose–a retired accountant–requested a look at the curriculum.
“There were one hundred questions out of which about two-thirds will ultimately be asked, as I understand it,” she said. “When I first read them, I got about half of the two-thirds correct,” she admitted, adding that all Americans should take it upon themselves to refresh their knowledge of history and government and learn the answers. “Too many individuals have died and continue to die defending what we have in this country.”
Could you pass the U.S. Citizenship test? A sampling of questions below should provide you with some idea. No answers are provided. If you get stuck on a question, just look it up online:
1. What are the colors of our flag?
2. How many stars are there in our flag?
3. What color are the stars on our flag?
4. What do the stars on the flag mean?
5. How many stripes are there in the flag?
6. What color are the stripes?
7. What do the stripes on the flag mean?
8. How many states are there in the Union?
9. What is the 4th of July?
10. What is the date of Independence Day?
11. Independence from whom?
12. What country did we fight during the Revolutionary War?
13. Who was the first President of the United States?
14. Who is the President of the United States today?
15. Who is the Vice-President of the United States today?
16. Who elects the President of the United States?
17. Who becomes the President of the United States if the President should die?
18. For how long do we elect the President?
19. What is the Constitution?
20. Can the Constitution be changed?
21. What do we call a change to the Constitution?
22. How many changes or amendments are there to the Constitution?
23. How many branches are there in our government?
24. What are the three branches of our government?
25. What is the legislative branch of our government?
26. Who makes the laws in the United States?
27. What is Congress?
28. What are the duties of Congress?
29. Who elects Congress?
30. How many senators are there in Congress?
31. Can you name the two senators from your state?
32. For how long do we elect each senator?
33. How many representatives are there in Congress?
34. For how long do we elect the representatives?
35. What is the executive branch of our government?
36. What is the judiciary branch of our government?
37. What are the duties of the Supreme Court?
38. What is the supreme law of the United States?
39. What is the Bill of Rights?
40. What is the capital of your state?
41. Who is the current governor of your state?
42. Who becomes President of the United States if the President and the Vice-President should die?
43. Who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court?
44. Can you name the 13 original states?
45. Who said, “Give me liberty or give me death”?
46. Which countries were our enemies during World War II?
47. What are the 49th and 50th states of the Union?
48. How many terms can a President serve?
49. Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
50. Who presides over your local government?
51. According to the Constitution, a person must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible to become President. Name one of these requirements.
52. Why are there 100 Senators in the Senate?
53. Who selects the Supreme Court justices?
54. How many Supreme Court justices are there?
55. Why did the pilgrims come to America?
56. What is the head executive of a state government called?
57. What is the head executive of a city government called?
58. What holiday was celebrated for the first time by American colonists?
59. Who was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence?
60. When was the Declaration of Independence adopted?
61. What is the basic belief of the Declaration of Independence?
62. What is the national anthem of the United States?
63. Who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner?
64. Where does freedom of speech come from?
65. What is the minimum voting age in the United States?
66. Who signs bills into law?
67. What is the highest court in the United States?
68. Who was President during the Civil War?
69. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
70. What special group advises the President?
71. Which President is called the “Father of our country?”
72. What Immigration and Naturalization Service form is used to apply to become a naturalized citizen?
73. Who helped the pilgrims in America?
74. What is the name of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to America?
75. What were the 13 original states of the U.S. called?
76. Name 3 rights or freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
77. Who has the power to declare war?
78. What kind of government does the United States have?
79. Which President freed the slaves?
80. In what year was the Constitution written?
81. What are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution called?
82. What is the supreme law of the land?
83. Where does Congress meet?
84. Whose rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
85. What is the introduction to the Constitution called?
86. Name one benefit to being a citizen of the United States?
87. What is the most important right granted to U.S. citizens?
88. What is the United States Capitol?
89. What is the White House?
90. Where is the White House located?
91. What is the name of the President’s official home?
92. Name one right guaranteed by the first amendment.
93. Who is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military?
94. Which President was the first Commander in Chief of the U.S. military?
95. In what month do we vote for President?
96. In what month is the new President inaugurated?
97. How many times may a Senator be re-elected?
98. How many times may a Congressman be re-elected?
99. What are the 2 major political parties in the U.S. today?
100. How many states are there in the United States?