On being a citizen


Are you already a citizen of the United States? Born here… raised here… never had to take a test or such to be a citizen of the country?

If so, are you an adult?

Ok… if you are an adult, American citizen, I ask…

How do you think you’d do, with no advance preparations, if asked the questions on the United States Civics test used during the naturalization process?

I wonder about this from time to time. I’m a college graduate. Love history. Enjoy the challenge of tests and trivia. And whenever something like a television show or movie offers up a character preparing to apply for United States citizenship, or I read about a citizenship ceremony taking place, I wonder when the discussion turns to taking a test. How would I do?

And more to the overall idea: How would I do without studying?

According to government web sites and the information provided, the test itself is offered as ten questions asked out of complete list of one hundred possible questions. Those applying for citizenship and taking the test must get six correct out of ten in order to pass.

You can use your favorite search engine to find the complete list of questions. But I’ve put together a sample run of ten questions. (The questions here, with my numbering for reference, and then the answers in the final segment.) Let’s see how you do:

(1) What is the supreme law of the land?

(2) Name three of the original thirteen states.

(3) How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

(4) How many amendments does the Constitution have?

(5) When was the Constitution written?

(6) What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

(7) Name one state that borders Mexico.

(8) Before he was President, Eisenhower was a general. What war was he in?

(9) What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?

(10) Name one branch or part of the government.

Here’s something that might seem a bit crazy…

I honestly believe that few people should have difficulty with the test overall, especially when getting six answers correct out of the ten questions asked allows you to pass. (Plus, the questions are known ahead of time.) Even the somewhat tricky ones, or the really deeply specific ones, given a bit of time to look them over virtually every American citizen should be nodding when matching the questions and answers together. That’s not my point… or the crazy part.

I’m wondering how I would do approaching it cold. No advance notice of content. Give me the full run of one hundred questions.

Would I pass?

(Would you?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So… how did you do? Here are the answers (in some cases, less formal responses are considered acceptable, and when involved they have been noted here):

(1) The Constitution

(2) New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and/or Georgia

(3) Nine

(4) Twenty-seven

(5) 1787

(6) Louisiana (or, the Louisiana Territory)

(7) California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas

(8) World War II

(9) Serve on a jury or vote in a federal election

(10) Congress, legislative, President, executive, the courts, or judicial

Go ahead… do some research, find the full test and challenge yourself.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com