Becoming a citizen

Becoming a citizen of the U.S. may be something not many people really want to do these days, but this practice civics test for people to become naturalized citizens is a good review for people who are already citizens. I wonder if our current president could pass this test (especially question 9). Here are a few examples:




“Naturalization is the process to voluntarily become a U.S. citizen if you were born outside of the United States. You may be eligible if you can show continuous U.S. residence for three to five years, are at least 18 years old, and demonstrate good moral character and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. You must also take the English and civics test, unless you qualify for an exemption.” (from the Explore My Options page)

The application process for permanent residents to become citizens is $640. That’s a lot of money.

I was a little nervous taking this practice test. Like a TOEIC or TOEFL test, I should pass with flying colors, right?


This story from a couple of years ago said that high school students in one US state had to pass a civics test to graduate. I don’t think this is too much to ask. And I think that people running for president, congress, and any other public office should have to take one.

These are the requirements for becoming a Japanese citizen. Again with the “good moral character”! Where’s the practice test for that? These requirements are pretty much the same as those for becoming a US citizen. Except you’re not allowed to hold dual citizenship in Japan.


Writing prompt: What does being a citizen of Japan mean to you? Would you ever give up your Japanese citizenship to become a citizen of another country? Why do you think some immigrants to Japan become naturalized citizens? Do you know any?

What kids knew 100 years ago

Or were supposed to know, anyway. This is what you’d need to know to pass a high school entrance exam … in 1912 (the last year of the Meiji Period, to put it into context for you):

(via Open Culture)

I’m sure the tests today are very, very different.

For example, I’ve never even heard the word “pennyweight” before. (It means 1.555 grams and it’s no longer in use.) But I bet I could spell it on a test (easy to predict).

And the “Diagram this sentence” question would probably never be seen on a school test today (people don’t want to bring religion into the classroom anymore).

And the question “What president has been impeached?” would have to be changed to “What presidents have been impeached?”

Three discussion questions:

  • How would you modify a test like this for 8th graders in 2016?
  • This is not a multiple choice test. Do you think exams like this should be multiple choice?
  • What kinds of things do you remember from your entrance exam (into high school or into university)? Yes, I know most of you would like to forget all about it, but you spent so much time studying for those tests, it’d be shame to wipe it from your memory.

How to take a driver’s test in China

Listen to this story about how one person finally passed the driver’s test in China, and then try some of the questions in this article: “Do You Have What It Takes To Get A Chinese Driver’s License?”

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Writing prompts:

Write about your own experiences getting a driver’s license, if you have one already, or other tests you’ve struggled with. The Center Test was taken by many of the country’s high school seniors over the weekend. Do you have any memories of your own experience?