Can you pass a citizenship test?

High school student’s nationwide take and pass a citizenship test. Can you?

From Florida to California students are learning a great deal about history and that includes a growing number of high school graduates being required to know at least as much about U.S. founding documents as immigrants passing the citizenship test.

Xavier University finds that one out of three U.S. citizens fails the civics portion of the immigrant naturalization test. A survey done by the university of more than 1,000 voting-age Americans asked respondents 10 random questions from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services civics exam, which is administered as part of the immigration process, finding that 35 percent answered five or less questions correctly. More than 97 percent of immigrants applying for citizenship pass the test with flying colors.

American’s do have their strong points, U.S. citizens fared best on questions related to history and geography and struggled most with questions about the function of government, specifically on questions about the Constitution and those that asked to identify current policy-makers. Other parts of the study show respondents were overwhelmingly confused about powers granted to the federal government and those granted to individual states.

An applicant must correctly answer six of 10 questions, selected from 100 possible questions, to pass the civics portion. A sample test, with the answers at the bottom:


1. What does the Constitution do?

2. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

3. What is an amendment?

4. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

5. How many amendments does the Constitution have?

6. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?

7. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

8. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the Constitution. Name one of the writers.

9. There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.

10. What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?


1. Sets up the government, defines the government and protects basic rights of Americans

2. We the People

3. A change or an addition to the Constitution

4. The Bill of Rights

5. 27

6. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness

7. To print money, to declare war, to create an army or to make treaties

8. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay (under the collective pseudonym Publius)

9. Citizens 18 and older can vote; you don’t have to pay to vote; any citizen can vote, a male citizen of any race can vote

10. Speech, religion, assembly, press, petition the government

Info from the Citizenship handbook. 

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.