How many voting members does the House of Representatives have?
How many years do we elect a U.S. Senator for?
When was the Constitution written?
These are a few examples of citizenship questions that can lead people to scramble through their memory or scratch their head.
For decades, polls have shown that civics and history tests can be surprisingly difficult for many citizens. It has become widely known that popular TV show characters are often more recognizable than some of the important figures in government and history.
However, it is also known that the majority of adults do pass short simple citizenship tests. The most difficulty may be had specifically at the high school level. For example, it was recently reported that less than 5% of high school students in Arizona and Oklahoma could pass a full version of a civics exam that used multiple choice questions.
This may change in coming years. Arizona was recently the first state to require students to pass a 100-question citizenship test to graduate high school, North Dakota has since followed suit, and at least 19 additional states are in the status of currently considering it.
Some political commentary has surrounded the change in Arizona, in part for the reason that the test is the same that immigrants must pass for citizenship – the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Civics Test. Although the change was first made in Arizona, the plan of The Civics Education Initiative is to seek to make all 50 states require the test by the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution in 2017 (September 17th)
High school students or their educators may react in different ways to this news. One worry could be that the test will be too difficult or that students with less early education on the topics would struggle with it.
So far, however, the test uses a very flexible scoring policy where students only need to answer 60 of the 100 questions correctly to pass. This should ease some of the worry over the test, and may be expected to allow students who prepare beforehand to pass it without trouble. It may also ultimately be a good thing if testing becomes a common mandate in all of the states, because an understanding of the country and how to participate in it is important for all citizens.
Citizenship questions can be practiced online with analytics on the Socrato website.