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How many times can you fail U.S. citizenship test?

Gaining U.S. citizenship is a significant milestone for immigrants living in the United States. It provides numerous benefits, including the ability to vote in elections, travel with a U.S. passport, and access to certain job opportunities and government benefits. However, the path to citizenship requires individuals to pass the U.S. citizenship test, which consists of an English proficiency exam and a civics exam. These tests aim to assess an applicant’s knowledge of the English language and their understanding of U.S. history, government, and civic rights and responsibilities.

In this blog post, we will explore the number of attempts an applicant has to pass the U.S. citizenship test and the potential consequences of failing the test. We will also provide valuable insights on preparing for the test and strategies to improve your chances of success.

Overview of U.S. Citizenship Test

Before delving into the number of attempts allowed, let’s understand the composition of the U.S. citizenship test. The test consists of two main components: the English proficiency exam and the civics exam. The English proficiency exam evaluates an applicant’s ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language, while the civics exam assesses their knowledge of U.S. history and government.

First Attempt at the U.S. Citizenship Test

For individuals seeking U.S. citizenship, the first attempt at the U.S. citizenship test is a crucial step. Adequate preparation is vital to increase the likelihood of passing the test on the first try. Let’s explore some strategies to help you prepare and succeed:

Preparing for the Test

To prepare for the U.S. citizenship test, applicants should utilize study materials and resources provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These resources include the official USCIS website, which offers study guides, practice tests, flashcards, and other helpful materials. Additionally, applicants can access online resources, such as educational websites, YouTube tutorials, and mobile applications designed specifically for U.S. citizenship test preparation.

Taking the Test

The U.S. citizenship test is administered in an interview format. During the interview, an USCIS officer will test the applicant’s English proficiency and civics knowledge. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the test format and structure to ensure you are well-prepared. Here are a few tips to help you succeed:

1. Practice speaking and listening skills: Regularly engage in conversations in English to improve your speaking and listening abilities. This will help you during the interview portion of the test.
2. Read and write in English: Enhance your reading and writing skills by regularly reading English books, newspapers, or articles, and practicing writing in English.
3. Memorize key civics facts: Focus on learning important dates, historical events, and key facts about U.S. government and civic processes. Flashcards can be a useful tool for memorization.

Results of the First Test

After completing the first attempt at the U.S. citizenship test, applicants will receive their results. There are two possible outcomes:

1. Passing the Test: If an applicant demonstrates proficiency in the English language and successfully answers a designated number of civics questions correctly, they will pass the test. This is a significant accomplishment and paves the way for the next steps in the naturalization process.
2. Failing the Test: If an applicant fails to pass either the English proficiency exam or the civics exam, they will have one opportunity to re-take the failed portion of the test.

It’s important to note that an applicant must pass both the English proficiency exam and the civics exam to successfully complete the U.S. citizenship test.

Re-examination Interview

If an applicant fails either the English or civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test during their first attempt, they will have the opportunity to schedule a re-examination interview. This interview will focus specifically on the portion of the test that was failed.

Process for Re-examination

To initiate the re-examination process, applicants must schedule an appointment with their local USCIS office. During the interview, they may also be required to provide additional documentation or evidence to support their eligibility for naturalization.

Retaking the English and Civics Tests

During the re-examination interview, applicants will retake the portion of the test they failed. If an applicant failed the English proficiency exam, they will be retested on their English skills. Similarly, if an applicant failed the civics exam, they will be asked a new set of civics questions.

Results of the Re-Examination

After the re-examination, applicants will once again receive their test results. The outcomes can be categorized as follows:

1. Passing the Re-examination: If an applicant successfully demonstrates proficiency in the previously failed area of the test, they will pass the re-examination.
2. Failing the Re-examination: If an applicant fails to pass the re-examination and does not meet the English and civics requirements, their naturalization application will be denied by USCIS.

Consequences of Failing the U.S. Citizenship Test

Failing the U.S. citizenship test can have significant consequences for an applicant. These consequences are important to understand before undertaking the naturalization journey.

Application Denial

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), USCIS has the authority to deny a naturalization application if an applicant fails to pass any portion of the U.S. citizenship test, even after the re-examination. This means that if an applicant fails the test twice, their naturalization application will be denied.

Options for Reapplying for Naturalization

Once a naturalization application is denied, applicants have the option to reapply for naturalization. However, there are specific waiting periods that must be adhered to before submitting a new application. Generally, an applicant can reapply for naturalization after waiting a certain amount of time, depending on the reason for denial.

To increase the likelihood of success on a subsequent attempt, applicants should thoroughly review their previous test performance and make necessary improvements. This may involve seeking additional study resources, enrolling in language learning courses, or working with an immigration attorney for guidance.


The U.S. citizenship test is an integral part of the naturalization process and plays a crucial role in determining an applicant’s eligibility for U.S. citizenship. Applicants have two opportunities to pass the English and civics tests: the initial examination and the re-examination interview. If an applicant fails to pass any portion of the tests after two attempts, their naturalization application will be denied by USCIS.

Thorough preparation and understanding of the test materials are essential to improve the chances of success. Applicants should take advantage of the study materials provided by USCIS and utilize additional resources to enhance their English proficiency and civics knowledge. In the event of failure, applicants should carefully review their performance, identify areas of improvement, and consider seeking professional guidance to maximize their chances of success on future attempts.


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