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Could You Be an American?

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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – People hoping to become naturalized citizens of the United States must to go through an application process in their quest to gain citizenship. One of those steps is to take a Naturalization Test that includes various and relatively basic civics questions.

It is understood by many Americans that this is a fair practice in helping to determine citizenship, the common thought being, if you are going to live in the country, then you need to know about it. But what if American’s couldn’t pass the Naturalization Test, the test that we use to judge the qualifications of a would-be citizen? Would it still be fair for us to ask immigrants to take a test that even our own citizens can’t?

Unfortunately, a study conducted by Xavier’s Center for the Study of the American Dream shows that 1 in 3 American’s couldn’t pass the Naturalization Test. Region 8 News took to the streets and put Region 8 through the same test, using questions off of the United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website. We too found that a number of people couldn’t answer basic questions relating to their own country.

The “Could You Be an American” test consisted of ten questions, asked to random people in Jonesboro. Question 1 was 100% accuracy by the 13 people we spoke to, thank goodness. We asked our contestants, “Name two national US holidays.” It would be the only question that had a perfect score.

The second question was a little tougher, “Name one branch or part of the government.” Only one person missed that question, answering the “F.B.I., the Federal Investigational Bureau.” The correct answers to that question according to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration would have been: Congress, Legislative, President, Executive, The Courts, or Judicial. That being said, Region 8 performed a solid 12 of 13 correct on that question.

Question number three is where the problems started, “Why does the American Flag have 13 stripes?” 7 out of 13 people we spoke with, answered that question incorrectly. One contestant answered, “We have 7 continents, right?” The correct answer to that question: To represent the 13 original colonies or to represent the original colonies.

The questions got continually tougher as the test went on, but question number four had nearly everyone stumped. The question asked, “What is the supreme law of the land?” If you didn’t really understand the wording of the question, you weren’t alone. 12 out of our 13 test-takers missed this one, the correct answer being, “The Constitution.”

“Who is the Chief Justice of the United States?” That was the fifth question we asked our contestants. Only 2 of 13 got the correct answer of John Roberts with one contestant answering, “Barrack Obama” and another guessing, “Robert Scallil”.

Question 5 took the cake on wrong answers. Things improved a little on the remaining 5 questions, but not much. Here are the questions and results for questions 6-10:



Q6) Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

A6) Thomas Jefferson (5 out 13 answered correctly)


Q7) There were 13 original states. Name Three.

A7) New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia (6 out of 13 answered correctly)


Q8) What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

A8) Freed the Slaves ( 5 out 13 answered correctly)



Q9) Name one US Territory.

A9) Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, or Guam (3 out of 13 answered correctly)



Q10) Name one state that borders Canada.

A10) Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho,Washington, or Alaska (11 out of 13 answered correctly).



When our numbers were all crunched, 7 out 13 passed the test meaning that around 47% failed, meaning Region 8 had a higher fail rate than the Xavier studies 33%.

Even though some of our contestants failed the test, many of those we talked to, insisted the test was in fact fair, and thought it was a good way to determine citizenship in the country.

If you would like to test yourself to find out if you have what it takes to be an American, there is an alternate version of the test on our website. You can find it here.

You can also get more on the Naturalization Test by heading to the US Department of Citizenship and Immigration website at www.uscis.gov

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