Preparing for the Citizenship Exam

Posted by on September 1st, 2015

International students represent a growing number of adult learners. The focus of these learners is often on high school equivalency, citizenship and English as a Second Language (ESL). Some of the components covered in each of these learning programs overlap making cross-preparation possible for many students. Due to the nature of the tests, similarities in content are commonly found in high school equivalency and citizenship exam training.

High School Equivalency

Proof of education or employment is required to obtain visas in the United States (U.S.).  Some learners have earned high school diplomas from their home country. In these instances, it is necessary to determine whether the diploma is considered valid in the U.S. Validity is determined through evaluation by credentialing agencies.

At times, the evaluation results reveal that a diploma does not meet every requirement of high school equivalency under the U.S. education system. If this is the case, or if a student does not possess the high school documentation, international students over the age of 17 are eligible to earn a high school equivalency diploma or certificate. The channels for obtaining the credentials include GED® testing or high school equivalency testing.


Citizenship Exam

Along with proof of education, persons interested in citizenship must successfully pass the U.S. Citizenship Exam during the naturalization interview process. The exam contains two portions related to education: English and civics. Students have two opportunities to take each test per application.



The English section of the exam has three components: reading, speaking and writing.

  • Reading – Test takers are required to successfully read one out of three sentences correctly in English. The content will be civics and history related.
  • Speaking – Ability to speak English is determined by a USCIS Officer.
  • Writing – Test takers must successfully write one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate writing ability. The topics will be focused on history or civics as well.



Important U.S. history and government topics are covered on the civics test. The civics exam contains 100 questions. Test takers will be asked 10 questions from the list and required to answer at least six (6) correctly to pass.


Preparation Resources

A number of resources exist to prepare test takers for the high school equivalency testand citizenship exams. PrepPath provides support materials for adult learners seeking to pass the tests. Resources available through PrepPath include practice assignments and questions. Students can use the questions to help them prepare for citizenship examination.

The Language Arts Practice Assignments cover capitalization, reading comprehension and vocabulary. These topics are essential in the reading, speaking and writing of the English language. In addition to the Language Arts practice, PrePath also provides Social Studies Practice Assignments. The Social Studies prep work contains information that will assist test takers on the civics portion of the exam.

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