A more meaningful understanding of American history, government and integrated civics.
One of the aims of the new citizenship test, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was to provide a more meaningful understanding of American history, government and integrated civics. Did the new test become more of a challenge for the citizenship applicant? Absolutely, as the new test requires more understanding of a topic rather than just rote memorization of an answer. Let’s examine some of the old citizenship test questions and then some of the redesigned exam questions.
From the old citizenship exam:
Question: What are the colors of the American flag?
Answer: Red, white and blue.
Question: What are the colors of the stripes on the flag? Answer: Red and white.
On the old citizenship test, there were seven questions about the flag; in contrast, the new exam has two questions about the flag.
From the redesigned test:
Question: Why are there thirteen stripes on the flag?
Answer: There are thirteen stripes on the flag because the stripes represent the original thirteen colonies.
Question: Why are there fifty stars on the flag?
Answer: There are fifty stars on the flag because the stars represent the fifty states in the Union.
Notice that any mention of colors of the flag are absent on the new test and this is because rather than giving a one word answer an attempt was made with the new test for the applicant to understand the meaning behind the answer.
Also noticeably absent on the old exam were questions concerning geography. The new test has eight questions relating to geography.
Here are examples of a couple:
Question: Name one territory of the United States.
Answer(s): Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Islands.
Question: Name one of the longest rivers in the United States.
Answer(s): The Missouri and the Mississippi.
With these questions, the applicant is being asked to know something about the country he or she lives in.
Most notably different though, are some of the questions pertaining to American government. On the old citizenship test, there were questions about the system of government:
Question: What is the legislative branch of our government?
Answer: Congress. Who makes the federal laws of the United States? Answer: Congress.
But let’s examine some of the questions about the system of government on the new citizenship test:
Question: According to our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government, mention one power of the federal government.
Answer: To print money, to create an army or to declare war.
Question: According to our Constitution, some powers belong to the state governments, mention one power of the state government.
Answer: To provide education, to provide police protection and to issue driver’s licenses.
Contrasting the two tests, it’s evident that more understanding of the function of government is required.