Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

What happens when our Citizenship test is wrong?

March 3, 2011 by Sayeh Hormozi


When I was 21 years old, I became a U.S. Citizen. It was an epic moment in my life.

The last of my family to get my citizenship, I was elated to be able to stand in the same line with them in the airport instead of all by myself in the foreign nationals line. Before, I would watch enviously as they flashed their blue passports with pride. I couldn’t wait until my turn. When it finally came, I walked out of the ceremony holding legal documentation legitimizing what I’d always considered myself—an American. I can still hear my father, who tends to flub his English when excited, congratulating me on finally becoming a senior citizen.

Most people know that in addition to the hours of paperwork and fingerprints and years of waiting, each candidate must take a basic civics test in order to be considered for citizenship. I must admit that at 21, I didn’t pay very close attention to the accuracy of the official answers. I was just happy to cram and pass.

The author of this Slate article, concerning the citizenship test, realizes a slew of inaccuracies as she prepares for her big exam. Her journey is familiar, even if she is a much better student than I turned out to be. Take a look and decide for yourself whether the $6.5 million spent in 2007 for the current test might not have bought all the right answers, or if this is just one more example of how the Constitution is up for many interpretations.


Sign up for our email newsletter