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The error-ridden U.S. citizenship test
March 10, 2011 11:24 AM   Subscribe

ProPublica reporter Dafna Linzer recently became a U.S. citizen. How? By not giving correct answers to the questions on the citizenship test. Readers respond.

After years of steep filing fees and paperwork (including one letter from Homeland Security claiming that my fingerprints had "expired"), it all came down to a test. I passed, and, my fellow Americans, you could, too -- if you don't mind providing answers that you know are wrong. (Previously. Also.)
posted by bokinney (81 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everyone hates a know-it-all, especially a Canadian one.
posted by smackfu at 11:26 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the many threads regarding Barack Obama doing or not doing this or that I am quite certain that many Mefites have absolutely no idea how their system of goverment works whatsoever and are quite unaware of any branches of goverment other than the executive one.
posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on March 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Properly, some Canadian know-it-alls should be referred to as "tout savoirs."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'd have a lot of trouble with the citizenship test because I get really anxious when imprecise and just plain wrong answers are expected from me. Kudos to the immigration lawyers and other advocates who help people ascertain what is required and walk them through the process.
posted by Danila at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone hates a know-it-all, especially a Canadian one.

She's your problem now, own it!
posted by Hoopo at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


Better a smarty-pants than a dummy-pants, I always say.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:35 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When my Irish mother became a citizen in 2002, the interviewer asked her how many stars are on the U.S. flag.

"The flag is displayed right behind you, on the wall."
"Umm, yeah. That one. How many stars?"
"Couldn't someone just count the number of stars on it right here?"
"Yeah."
"Fifty."
"All right, next question..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:37 AM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was this kid at school, every time I had to take a standardized test. Standardized tests are very prone to the sorts of error she describes. I cringed when she got to the "rule of law" question because I would have been in exactly the same boat.

Standardized tests don't teach you facts as much as they teach you how to answer standardized tests, generally by approximating to one answer that's closer to truthiness than truth.
posted by immlass at 11:41 AM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've probably said this before, but one of the things I least expected to find myself doing in a university course was explaining that there was a citizenship test. No one else in the class knew how one became a citizen other than by birth. (I think someone else had to explain how he was a citizen, having been born overseas to a US citizen.)

I seem to recall being pretty good at it in second or third grade when my mother was studying for the test, but I suspect my best bet of passing it now would be rote memorisation because the questions are so imprecise. But to an eight year old, they're easy.
posted by hoyland at 11:43 AM on March 10, 2011


Shouldn't the desire to be a US citizen be enough? Just because it's easier to get here than it was in the 1700s doesn't mean that those who make the trip aren't just as deserving of citizenship. Instead we have the hypocrisy of requiring a test that most Americans couldn't correctly answer if they tried.
posted by tommasz at 11:43 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Proctor: All right, here's your last question.  What was the cause of
         the Civil War?  
    Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes.  Aside from the obvious
         schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists,
         there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--
Proctor: Wait, wait... just say slavery.
    Apu: Slavery it is, sir.

posted by milquetoast at 11:44 AM on March 10, 2011 [36 favorites]


Was I a member of the Communist Party? Was I member of a totalitarian party?

Seriously? I admit to no familiarity with the process here, but what is the point of these questions - can't an American belong to any political party they want? Does the "wrong" answer to these cause someone to be denied citizenship? How do they define "totalitarian"?

Can I ask any more questions?
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:45 AM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sometimes I wish I got to go through the whole process. My parents naturalized before I turned 18, so once I turned 18 all I had to do was fill out some paperwork and that was it. No teary fellow new citizens, no message from the President, etc.
posted by kmz at 11:45 AM on March 10, 2011


I don't seem to recall any egregious questions when my wife became a Canadian citizen but in one sense it was the same - she already knew the answers to all the question and I, a "native", had no clue.
posted by GuyZero at 11:45 AM on March 10, 2011


I cringed when she got to the "rule of law" question because I would have been in exactly the same boat.

I dunno; "no one is above the law" seems to be a half-decent attempt to paraphrase the judge's explanation: "The rule of law means that judges decide cases 'without respect of persons,' that is, without considering the social status, attractiveness, etc. of the parties or their lawyers"
posted by Hoopo at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011


Was I a member of the Communist Party? Was I member of a totalitarian party?

I'm curious about being a habitual drunkard. Will that really block your ability to become a citizen?
posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on March 10, 2011


I'm not sure I can believe any part of the story, given that she claims to be a Canadian who wanted to be an American. As if.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Was I a member of the Communist Party? Was I member of a totalitarian party?

Those are on the visa waiver cards too (or used to be, I think they have changed things up a little lately) - I was always very careful checking the "NO" boxes in case they tricked me by altering the wording of the questions.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about being a habitual drunkard. Will that really block your ability to become a citizen?

From the evidence, it seems to often be a requirement....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2011


can't an American belong to any political party they want?

Sure. But when you're asked that question, you aren't one yet.
posted by spaltavian at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"The goal of the naturalization test is to ensure America's newest citizens have mastered a basic knowledge of U.S. history and have a solid foundation to continue to expand their understanding as they embark on life as U.S. citizens," said Christopher Bentley, a spokesman for [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services].
...
During the citizenship interview, applicants are asked a randomly selected 10 questions from the test [of 100 possible questions] and must answer six correctly.
Answer six questions in the way we see fit, and you've mastered a basic knowledge of U.S. History! Congratulations!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:50 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


can't an American belong to any political party they want?

The Smith Act makes it illegal to be a member of a party that advocates the violent overthrow of the government.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:50 AM on March 10, 2011


when you're asked that question, you aren't one yet.

So, the process will deny you the ability to become a citizen because you belong or belonged to an "incorrect" ideology. Who gets to determine what is on that list of incorrectness?
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2011


The real aspect of American citizenship they're testing for is your willingness to accept the government's statements in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. It ends with the interviewer holding up four fingers, and asking the applicant to count them. The flashcards will already have explained to you the correct answer.
posted by CaseyB at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sometimes I wish I got to go through the whole process. My parents naturalized before I turned 18, so once I turned 18 all I had to do was fill out some paperwork and that was it. No teary fellow new citizens, no message from the President, etc.

Sometimes I wish the test was required for all politicians. Closed book. In a very public setting. Failure results in deportation.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:52 AM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


In some ways, as a permanent resident of the United States, it would benefit me a lot to become a citizen - I'd get to vote, for a start. On the other hand I'm not an American, never going to think of myself as an American, and so becoming a citzien would be a bit weird, and so I don't.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2011


Sometimes I wish the test was required for all politicians. Closed book. In a very public setting. Failure results in deportation.

"where in the constitution is separation of church and state?" youtube
posted by the mad poster! at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This "no one will notice" or "it's good enough" culture in the US truly frightens me. OK, an incorrect question on the citizenship test is not life-threatening, it's just embarrassing. But what about, say, the airline mechanics who couldn't be bothered to locate the safety caps for a bunch of oxygen generators and simply taped down the lanyards instead? Several supervisors signed off on the stopgap measure, no doubt with the thought in mind that it had been done before with no problem.

On a much less serious level, a friend of mine worked on the web page for a restaurant in Durham, NC, called Cuban Revolution. Part of the text they wanted incorporated on the intro page was "The 1950s...the Beatles were rocking, JFK was president...." My friend pointed out that the Beatles' popularity and JFK's presidency were 1960s events. His email note was sent up a chain of command and the ultimate response that came back from the restaurant owner was basically "Just do it. The walls have already been painted with their pictures and besides, no one else is going to notice something like that...."
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:58 AM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"can't an American belong to any political party they want?"

Incidentally, when I was elected to local office in Illinois, along with the 8 zillion other pieces of paperwork I had to fill out, I was asked to sign a statement swearing that I was NOT a member of the communist party. Court cases had long since declared that elected officials can't be FORCED to fill out the paper, but apparently nobody wants to be the guy who repeals the anti-commie law that makes the state present the paper to all officials. So we just waste the paper and administrative time on it, even though it's totally meaningless.

I, of course, refused to sign it. And laughed in total disbelief.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Aren't the Budweiser lobbyists trying to do something about that "habitual drunkard" question?
posted by ottimo at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2011


"no one is above the law" seems to be a half-decent attempt to paraphrase the judge's explanation

That's exactly what I mean about it being truthy. I'd have gone with that answer, because it's closest, but it's not a very good paraphrase.
posted by immlass at 12:02 PM on March 10, 2011


This "no one will notice" or "it's good enough" culture in the US...

Oddly, though this label might seem as offensive by some, I find it more life-affirming than the reality in which we live. In other words, "doing the least possible thing to get stuff done" might seem like a uniquely American problem, but I'm fairly sure it's more universal than you think.

The idea of a citizen test -- especially one that with "correct" wrong answers -- makes me more than a bit uncomfortable. But I bet if I ever saw the ceremony as described, I would cry like a baby as well.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2011


My lawyer sighed, she agreed.

I feel like that must happen a lot with this person.
posted by smackfu at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"no one is above the law"

This is also an excellent catch phrase for a vigilante comic book character,
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:08 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


My personal favorite:

Q: During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

Hmm, let me see. Was it the prospective annihilation of our species?

A: Communism.

Oh, right.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


The real aspect of American citizenship they're testing for is your willingness to accept the government's statements in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

Actual footage of the final citizenship question.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2011


I was always very careful checking the "NO" boxes in case they tricked me by altering the wording of the questions.

Have you never not been a non-member of the Communist Party? Not?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:11 PM on March 10, 2011


Aren't the Budweiser lobbyists trying to do something about that "habitual drunkard" question?

Since Budweiser is no longer owned by Americans, I'm guessing no.
posted by tommasz at 12:21 PM on March 10, 2011


I also wasn't asked Question 1: "What is the supreme law of the land?"

The official answer: "the Constitution." A friend and legal scholar was aghast. That answer, he said, is "no more than one-third correct." He's right.

Article VI, clause 2 in the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause [9], explicitly says that three things -- the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties -- together "shall be the supreme law of the land."


Point taken, but the scholar's answer comes from the Constitution. If you took the Constitution out of that equation, then there would be no federal laws of the United States and no treaties with the United States.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2011


The Smith Act makes it illegal to be a member of a party that advocates the violent overthrow of the government.

Unless you're a pundit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


but apparently nobody wants to be the guy who repeals the anti-commie law that makes the state present the paper to all officials

Until someone decides it's time to replace it with a sworn oath not to uphold any Sharia law.
posted by briank at 12:30 PM on March 10, 2011


In some ways, as a permanent resident of the United States, it would benefit me a lot to become a citizen - I'd get to vote, for a start. On the other hand I'm not an American, never going to think of myself as an American, and so becoming a citzien would be a bit weird, and so I don't.

I've had the same thought. For me it's the oath.
I'm rather fond of my country's potentate.
Also, I'm not bearing arms for anyone, I'm way too old for that crap.
posted by madajb at 12:30 PM on March 10, 2011


No one else in the class knew how one became a citizen other than by birth. (I think someone else had to explain how he was a citizen, having been born overseas to a US citizen.)

This rings too true to me. I've had to explain to a number of people over the years how this works. Most egregious was this part of a lengthy conversation I had with Social Security about trying to change some of my benefits (which I had been receiving for years):

worker (bored): Place of birth?

me: Faga'itua, American Samoa.

worker: Where?

me: Faga'itua, American Samoa.

worker (alarmed): Wait, are you an American citizen?

me: Yes. My parents are both natural-born US citizens.

worker (angry and impatient): I didn't ask about your parents! Please answer my question, sir. Are you an American citizen or not?

me: I did. I am an American citizen.

worker (skeptical): Okay, well, you're going to need to prove it. I'll send you a form.
posted by sleepinglion at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Was it Woody Allen who, when asked if he advocated "the overthrow of the government by force or violence" decided to choose force?
posted by MtDewd at 12:35 PM on March 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have flagged this post.

That's right, I flagged this post. A proud flag. A red white and blue flag. A flag with 13 stripes, which represents Jesus and his 12 disciples. A flag with 50 stars, one for each contestant on Dancing with the Stars. A flag which has flown proudly over the country since it was sewn by Betty Crocker and approved by our first president, Denzel Washington. A flag that stands for the Constitution, which was written by George Jefferson and which guarantees our Right to Life.

I flagged this post because I don't like the idea of somebody purposely getting the answers wrong. Go back to Canada, you American you.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


You can try the test yourself at the USCIS website, and presumably become an Internet-American.
posted by swift at 12:37 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was always very careful checking the "NO" boxes in case they tricked me by altering the wording of the questions.

1) Have you ever tried sugar, or PCP?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
posted by Who_Am_I at 12:46 PM on March 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


"Native English speakers are not exempt from this section"

I thought she was from Canada, eh? What's that all aboot?
posted by madajb at 12:48 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed this article, but want to nit pick about the "rule of law" part. This phrase means quite a bit to me. First, Judge Posner, though undoubtedly bright, is hardly the last word on the right definition. And his articulation, focusing on how judges should do their jobs when they decide cases, is to put it mildly, cramped.

Wikipedia actually does a much better job on defining this term, consistently with the suggested answer, than Judge Posner.

My own favorite shorthand for what the rule of law means is John Adams' excellent one: A government of laws and not of men.
posted by bearwife at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


brilliant.

Holy gods, it is a pain in the ass posting links by iOS.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2011


I'm curious about being a habitual drunkard. Will that really block your ability to become a citizen?

Didn't stop Christopher Hitchens.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 1:26 PM on March 10, 2011


The Life in the UK test for us horrible foreigners is almost as bad as the US test. I haven't taken it yet, as I won't be eligible for residency for a while, but I've taken the mock test a few times. A few of the questions are the pretty reasonable stuff you'd expect, like what Parliament does, how the NHS works, and so on.

Some of them, however, are just...nuts. This is paraphrased from an actual question:

"What percentage of the UK is of Chinese descent?

A.) 0.3%
B.) 0.4%
C.) 0.5%"

The correct answer, "D.) Are you fucking kidding me?", is not an option.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought she was from Canada, eh? What's that all aboot?

Yes, she was probably informed after wards that as an American she now has to replace all vowel with the letter "A".

Bacase that's what wa ah tahkin abaht.
posted by GuyZero at 1:34 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mr. Bad Example - Please give a one paragraph description of the LBW rule.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


The official answer: "the Constitution." A friend and legal scholar was aghast. That answer, he said, is "no more than one-third correct." He's right.

Article VI, clause 2 in the Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause [9], explicitly says that three things -- the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties -- together "shall be the supreme law of the land."


This isn't really right, and is about at the level of saying the Republicans must be right because this is a republic not a democracy.

The supreme law of the land is the law that beats the other laws. The ultimate law. The Uber-Law.

If there is a conflict between a federal law and the Constitution, the Constitution wins. If there is a conflict between a treaty and the Constitution, the Constitution wins. There is only one supreme law of the land, one law that beats all other laws and in the darkness binds them, and that is the Constitution.

The Supremacy Clause, which the silly person's legal-scholar friend is quoting, is not about there being three, equally supreme, potentially conflicting supreme laws of the land. If it were, then courts would be completely incapable of exercising judicial review over federal laws. The end of the sentence makes it plain -- "anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." It's a statement that anything federal beats the crap out of everything state. Your state constitution says one thing, our federal law says another? EAT IT, STATE CONSTITUTION!

If there's one thing worse than pedantry, it's incorrect pseudo-pedantry. That and Reavers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:44 PM on March 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Well, you've got this leg, right, and then a wicket, and...ah, hell. Can't I just put on a hoodie, carry around a can of Strongbow, say "Innit?" and get residency on points from that?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:44 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, the process will deny you the ability to become a citizen because you belong or belonged to an "incorrect" ideology. Who gets to determine what is on that list of incorrectness?

I don't know why you are particularly enraged by this. I would think that one of the most fundamental rights a country's government could possibly have would be determining what aliens get to be a citizen of that country. Obviously, this can be and is abused, but I think denying citizenship to someone who wants to overthrow the government of the country they are attempting to become a citizen of is not only justified, but prudent.
posted by Falconetti at 1:46 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just did the test at the USCIS site linked above. This is an actual question:

What is one reason colonists came to America?

to join a civic group
none of these answers
freedom
for the experience traveling across the ocean
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:54 PM on March 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


The placement of "none of these answers" is genius.
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on March 10, 2011


What is one reason colonists came to America?

It's where the ships they were chained up in were sailing to?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Allegedly true story I forget where from about a Russian taking the test in Ellis Island days.

Question - what flies over the capitol building?

Flag, the correct answer, did not occur to him.

A few moments of furrowed brow and he brightened.

"Pigeons!"
posted by IndigoJones at 2:06 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marine One!
posted by yeti at 2:13 PM on March 10, 2011


What not to say: "The people's Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers of the glorious motherland!"
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on March 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


What is one reason colonists came to America?

To rape the land?
posted by grubi at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is one reason colonists came to America?

a) To crush their enemies?
b) To see them driven before you?
c) To hear the lamentations of their women?
d) All the above answers.
posted by GuyZero at 2:31 PM on March 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


Cool article, but I'm still wondering about a couple points. As long as she wants to get picky:

- Why did Richard Posner say that "No one is above the law" is an "incorrect" explanation of "the rule of law"?

- How is she so sure that "The vice president is a cabinet-level officer but he's not a Cabinet member"? I know she links to the Constitution, but I don't see where the Constitution clearly says that. She says, "The official naturalization test booklet even hints as much," but surely she isn't one to take the naturalization booklet as the last word! She admits that "the White House's own website lists the vice president as a member of the Cabinet" -- why isn't that authoritative? Oh, and her partner wrote a book about the Vice President ... as if book authors are infallible? Or she wants us to trust her because she's a journalist?
posted by John Cohen at 2:45 PM on March 10, 2011


Was I member of a totalitarian party?

Seriously? I admit to no familiarity with the process here, but what is the point of these questions - can't an American belong to any political party they want?


So you're saying a country has to make it just as easy to become a citizen as to remain a citizen? I can't believe you believe that.

By the same token, I have a legal right not to know anything about American history yet continue to be an American citizen. But that wouldn't be a good idea for someone who's not an American citizen and wants to become one.
posted by John Cohen at 2:52 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't notice any simple factual errors in the Life in the UK test, but I did notice that the first chapter (not tested) was a gross over-simplification and whitewashing of British history c1066-2000. Reading it reduced my knowledge and understanding of British history.

The actual questions were idiotic - I got one wrong, because I could only name ONE place to get my National Insurance Number, instead of the TWO possible places. Most native-born Brits I asked couldn't even name the one place (they had theirs mailed to them at age 16).
posted by jb at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2011


What not to say: "The people's Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers of the glorious motherland!"

I know. The immigration person will just look over his glasses at you and ask "What, are there Mikoyan Tu-160's I should know about? Maybe a few Sukhoi Tu-160's lurking in the dark forests of Siberia? Let's move on. You're walking in a desert..."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:00 PM on March 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


somebody got the Apu quote? ah yes, carry on ...

Then there is Question 12: What is the "rule of law"?

I showed it to lawyers and law professors. They were stumped.

There are four acceptable answers: "Everyone must follow the law"; "Leaders must obey the law"; "Government must obey the law"; "No one is above the law."

Judge Richard Posner, the constitutional scholar who serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, was unhappy. "These are all incorrect," he wrote me. "The rule of law means that judges decide cases 'without respect of persons,' that is, without considering the social status, attractiveness, etc. of the parties or their lawyers."


Also, "no one is above the law" is pretty close to "without respect of persons" no? Semantics here.

Question 96 asks: Why does the flag have 13 stripes? The official answer: "because there were 13 original colonies." In fact, the flag has 13 stripes for the 13 original states.

And why were there 13 states ... ?

Nitpicking for SEO chum. Fun!
posted by mrgrimm at 3:15 PM on March 10, 2011


Was I a member of the Communist Party? Was I member of a totalitarian party?

Seriously? I admit to no familiarity with the process here, but what is the point of these questions - can't an American belong to any political party they want? Does the "wrong" answer to these cause someone to be denied citizenship? How do they define "totalitarian"?

...

Incidentally, when I was elected to local office in Illinois, along with the 8 zillion other pieces of paperwork I had to fill out, I was asked to sign a statement swearing that I was NOT a member of the communist party. Court cases had long since declared that elected officials can't be FORCED to fill out the paper, but apparently nobody wants to be the guy who repeals the anti-commie law that makes the state present the paper to all officials. So we just waste the paper and administrative time on it, even though it's totally meaningless.

I, of course, refused to sign it. And laughed in total disbelief.


I've mentioned this before, but you still cannot teacher in California public schools if you are a Communist. Schwarzenegger's veto.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:26 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I took a previous test, when one did not need an immigration lawyer and when the cost of the test was only $100 or so. I did not have any flashcards, I did have sample questions, and the subjects covered were pretty much the ones covered in a high school Civics course. I don't remember all the questions except that I was asked who were the current senator and representative for my address.

The naturalization ceremony was great, with many people tearing up and with a brass quartet playing all kinds of patriotic music.
(do a tuba, two trombones and a trumpet make a brass quartet?)
posted by francesca too at 4:14 PM on March 10, 2011


If in doubt on one of those more difficult questions, try the following:

"9..... (pause for dramatic effect) ...11"
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:43 PM on March 10, 2011


I've mentioned this before, but you still cannot teacher in California public schools if you are a Communist.

Amazing. Surely this can't be constitutional?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:07 PM on March 10, 2011


A proposed improved questionnaire to screen out undesirables, updated for our era:

1-Did Han shoot first?
2-Have you ever "Messed with Texas?"
3-On an equilateral right triangle where the length of the hypotenuse equal to the square root of two, what are the lengths of sides a and b?
4-Rank the following from most gay to least: Bravo, the NY Yankees, American Football, the Learning Channel, soccer, Mr. Smithers, bicycle racing, and Vegas.
5-Followup on the gay thing, Is there anything wrong with that?
6-One more question on the gay thing, what about "totally gay"? Is there anything wrong with that.
7-Que es macho el Presidente Barak Obama o el mal hombre Mitt Romney?
8-Do you smoke?
9-do you posses Tiger Blood or Adonis DNA?
10a-Are you busy later (ladies only, male questioner)
10b-Do these jeans make me look fat (men only, female questioner)


Answer Key:
1-yes
2-no
3-one
4-trick question they are all equally gay
5-no
6-duh
7-two acceptable answers: a) I don't speak Mexican, b) Barrack Obama
8-no
9-no (we already have one charlie sheen)
10-no
posted by humanfont at 6:11 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


3-On an equilateral right triangle

The immigration agent is looking at you over his glasses again.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 PM on March 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


June Thomas, an editor at Slate, was asked to choose her own sentence when she took the test. "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing," she wrote.

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:30 PM on March 10, 2011


"Couldn't someone just count the number of stars on it right here?"

Counting that high without making a mistake is hard! But then again we should probably let people who can count to fifty become citizens.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:58 PM on March 10, 2011


1-Did Han shoot first?

Trick question. Han was the only one who shot. Ain't no "first" without "second".
posted by grubi at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


1-Did Han shoot first?

Heh. Glass, stones, houses, etc. (Moral: writing a good test is not easy.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:22 AM on March 11, 2011


3-On an equilateral right triangle where the length of the hypotenuse equal to the square root of two, what are the lengths of sides a and b?

So... if they answer this one correctly, we banish them back to R'lyeh?
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:47 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


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