Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) introduced new versions of the civics and English tests which applicants for citizenship must pass. The new test will be required of all people who have their citizenship interview after October 1, 2009 and for those who applied after October 1, 2008.

Questions to the civics test have been changed and it now focuses on three areas: American government, American history, and integrated civics. The content of American government and history are relatively straightforward. The integrated civics section is a bit of a grab bag, with questions on geography, symbols of the US, and holidays. Though some questions have changed, the passing score remains the same: six out of ten asked questions.

The English test has undergone a much more extensive overhaul than the civics portion of the test. The English test is now broken up into three separate sections: speaking, reading, and writing. The speaking section remains the same, the interviewing officer reviews the applicants abilities in speaking the English language while going over the Naturalization application and while administering the civics test.

It is the reading and writing portions of the English test which have been significantly changed. On the reading portion of the test, the applicant must correctly read one of three sentences presented. Similarly, on the writing test, the applicant must correctly write one of three sentences read by the interviewing officer. The questions in both sections will focus on US history and civics. The USCIS is not releasing the sentences which will be used, however, they are releasing vocabulary lists containing the words that the sentences will be primarily composed of for study purposes.

More information, including study materials, can be found at the USCIS website, www.uscis.gov/newtest. People interested can also purchase study guides or flash cards from the U.S. Government Printing Office at bookstore.gpo.gov.