Most NJ residents can’t pass U.S. citizenship exam. Try this test
How many Justices serve on the U.S. Supreme Court? Was New Jersey one of the original 13 states?
If you have no idea, you're among the majority of New Jersey residents who wouldn't be able to pass the test that immigrants need to pass in order to become a U.S. citizen.
Fifty-eight percent of Garden Staters received a failing grade on a multiple-choice citizenship exam when surveyed by the Princeton-based Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Just 3 percent received an 'A' grade.
And actual naturalization test isn't multiple choice — it's an oral test that requires takers to get six out of 10 questions (from a pool of 100) correct.
Would you do better? Take our multiple-choice quiz, culled from actual citizenship test questions, below:
New Jersey does have plenty of company with the poor showing. In only one state, Vermont, did more residents pass than fail.
“Unfortunately, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation has validated what studies have shown for a century: Americans don’t possess the history knowledge they need to be informed and engaged citizens,” said Arthur Levine, foundation president. “American history education is not working, as students are asked to memorize dates, events and leaders, which the poll results show are not retained in adulthood."
Arlene Gardner, executive director of the New Jersey Center for Civic Education, said these results serve as additional proof that attention on civics in schools is insufficient.
A proposed New Jersey law advanced earlier in February by an Assembly committee would mandate a course in civics or U.S. government as part of high school graduation requirements.
Currently, civics is required to be integrated into the two years of U.S. history and one year of world history taught in high school. Gardner said that equates to a month, at most, of civic content. She believes a civics course should be required starting in middle school.
"The original purpose of having public schools was to have an educated citizenry in a democracy, and if you look at the mission statements of most public schools, they'll say that. But we're not doing it," Gardner said.
Gardner called it "ironic" and "almost hypocritical" that potential citizens are required to know this material, and those who were born in America are not.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.