** LEGAL UPDATE **
All applicants for naturalized U.S. citizenship must take an exam covering topics related to U.S. civics, history, and government. Fortunately for people preparing to apply, the list of possible questions that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) examiner might ask is available for advance study. (See Tests You Will Need to Pass to Become a U.S. Citizen.) That set of questions is periodically revised, the last revision having been in 2008. Recently, USCIS announced that it is issuing a newly revised version, including changed and added questions, on December 1, 2020.
If you've already submitted your Form N-400 to apply for naturalization (and you're reading this before December 1, 2020), you will take the existing version of the test. If, however, USCIS receives your N-400 application or after December 1, 2020, you will need to study for and take the updated version of the test, and study more questions than ever before.
The total number of questions to study used to be 100. But this new, 2020 version raises it to 128. USCIS says it has added questions that test one’s understanding of U.S. history and civics.
As before, you won't need to answer all the possible questions in order to pass. In the previous version, however, applicants needed to answer only six out of 12 questions correctly. The revised version requires applicants to answer at least 12 out of 20 questions correctly in order to pass.
The exam will be oral, with questions asked by a USCIS examiner.
This revised exam doesn't change the exceptions or special considerations available to applicants who are 65 years old and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 20 years. They can take an easier version of the history and government exam. This is commonly referred to as the “65/20 exception.”
USCIS offers the latest test and study guides on its Citizenship Resource Center website. The agency has also updated its Policy Manual, at Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.
Effective Date: December 1, 2020