US citizenship test requires understanding of only 64 words

The U.S. citizenship or naturalization test consists of two components: the civics test and the language test.  The government has a preparatory website that has a list of vocabulary words needed for the language test.  There are only 64 words and phrases to be learned to become an American.

With many of the words being proper names like "George Washington" and "Flag Day" and still more of the words being prepositions like "of" and "in" and "on," it is very easy for someone to study for this test, pass, and yet lack the vocabulary to understand even "See Spot Run."

There's even a helpful guide to phrases the government interviewer may say that are not on the 64-word list:

Come!  Sit!

Even doggies don't need this helpful guide.  But immigrants who learn only the 64 words needed to pass the exam will be clueless when an  interviewer waves to them with his hand and asks them to come with him, unless they have this guide, or a well trained cocker spaniel to interpret hand gestures.

To pass the test, all you have to do is to correctly read aloud one out of three sentences and write one out of three sentences correctly.  That's right: if you read or write two out of three easy sentences incorrectly, you can still become a citizen!

It's no wonder the test has an over 90% pass rate.

But if that's still too difficult, don't worry: there are some exceptions for people over the age of 50 and people who can claim they are mentally challenged.  They may not have to take the test at all!

I always wondered why ballots have to be in Spanish and other languages.  If a person becomes a citizen, shouldn't the citizen be able to read the ballot in English?  Now I know why.  Unless the ballot says things like "Where George Washington on Independence Day?" or "Abraham Lincoln has many senators," immigrants may not understand it.

What key words in English do you think immigrants should understand?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

The U.S. citizenship or naturalization test consists of two components: the civics test and the language test.  The government has a preparatory website that has a list of vocabulary words needed for the language test.  There are only 64 words and phrases to be learned to become an American.

With many of the words being proper names like "George Washington" and "Flag Day" and still more of the words being prepositions like "of" and "in" and "on," it is very easy for someone to study for this test, pass, and yet lack the vocabulary to understand even "See Spot Run."

There's even a helpful guide to phrases the government interviewer may say that are not on the 64-word list:

Come!  Sit!

Even doggies don't need this helpful guide.  But immigrants who learn only the 64 words needed to pass the exam will be clueless when an  interviewer waves to them with his hand and asks them to come with him, unless they have this guide, or a well trained cocker spaniel to interpret hand gestures.

To pass the test, all you have to do is to correctly read aloud one out of three sentences and write one out of three sentences correctly.  That's right: if you read or write two out of three easy sentences incorrectly, you can still become a citizen!

It's no wonder the test has an over 90% pass rate.

But if that's still too difficult, don't worry: there are some exceptions for people over the age of 50 and people who can claim they are mentally challenged.  They may not have to take the test at all!

I always wondered why ballots have to be in Spanish and other languages.  If a person becomes a citizen, shouldn't the citizen be able to read the ballot in English?  Now I know why.  Unless the ballot says things like "Where George Washington on Independence Day?" or "Abraham Lincoln has many senators," immigrants may not understand it.

What key words in English do you think immigrants should understand?

Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.

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