Civics 101

Angelina Hernandez

Christin Delacuz Pena

Harlee Miller

Isaac Hokanson

Isaiah Lopez

Joel Rivera

Yovani Plasencia-Lopez (NO JOSE)

Josh Blanton

Nathan Freeman

Richard Gurule

Trinity Hughes

Flying United States flags   Color   Illustrator Ver. 3   Grouped elements



The U.S. Naturalization Test includes a civics portion that asks questions about American history and government as well as U.S. geography, symbols and holidays. The test is administered orally and citizenship applicants may be asked up to 10 questions from a study guide of 100. The applicant must answer at least six out of 10 questions correctly to pass.

How well would you do on the U.S. Naturalization Test? Here are some questions from a practice test at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website (

1. What does the U.S. Constitution do?

2. What is one right or freedom defined in the First Amendment?

3. How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have?

4. What is the economic system of the United States?

5. What is the “rule of law”?

6. What is one branch of the U.S. government?

7. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?

8. How many voting members does the U.S. House of Representatives have?

9. If both the U.S. president and vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president?

10. Who is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military?

11. What are two Cabinet-level positions?

12. Who is Chief Justice of the United States now?

13. What is one power of the federal government as outlined in the U.S. Constitution?

14. What is one power of the states as outlined in the U.S. Constitution?

15. What is one responsibility that is only for U.S. citizens?

16. What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?

17. What is one promise a person makes when becoming a U.S. citizen?

18. What are three of the original 13 original states?

19. Who was one of the authors of the Federalist Papers, which supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution?

20. When was the U.S. Constitution written?

21. What was one war fought by the United States in the 1800s?

22. Who was U.S. president during World War I?

23. What was the United States’ main concern during the Cold War?

24. What is one of the two longest rivers in the United States?

25. What is one U.S. territory?

Answers can be found on page 6D.

1. The U.S. Constitution sets up the government, defines the government and protects the basic rights of Americans.

2. The First Amendment includes the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, press and petitioning the government.

3. The U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments.

4. The United States has a capitalist, or market, economy.

5. The “rule of law” is that everyone must follow the law, including government leaders; no one is above the law.

6. The U.S. government consists of the executive, judicial and legislative branches.

7. Checks and balances and separation of powers stop any branch of government from becoming too powerful.

8. The U.S. House of Representatives has 435 voting members.

9. The Speaker of the House becomes president if the current president and vice president can no longer serve.

10. The president is Commander in Chief of the military.

11. The Cabinet includes secretaries of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, health and human services, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, labor, state, transportation, treasury and veterans affairs, as well as the attorney general and vice president.

12. John G. Roberts Jr. is Chief Justice of the United States now.

13. According to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has the power to print money, declare war, create an army and make treaties.

14. The U.S. Constitution gives states the power to provide schooling and education, provide protection (police), provide safety (fire departments), issue driver’s licenses and approve zoning and land use.

15. Only U.S. citizens can serve on a jury and vote in a federal election.

16. Everyone living in the United States is offered freedoms of expression, speech, assembly, worship and petitioning the government, as well as the right to bear arms.

17. When becoming a U.S. citizen, a person promises to give up loyalty to other countries, defend the Constitution and laws of the United States, obey the laws of the United States, serve in the U.S. military (if needed), do important work for the nation (if needed) and be loyal to the United States.

18. The 13 original states are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

19. The authors of the Federalist Papers were James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and Publius.

20. The U.S. Constitution was written in 1787.

21. In the 1800s, the United States fought in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the U.S. Civil War and the Spanish-American War.

22. Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I.

23. Communism was the United States’ main concern during the Cold War.

24. The Missouri and Mississippi are the United States’ two longest rivers.

25. U.S. territories are Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.

The idea is that nations have a collective knowledge, a framework of history and governance and accomplishment of which every citizen is a part. To be an American, then, is to know that the government has three branches and that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence.

This common knowledge is learned in school, in travel, in passing and, sometimes it seems, through osmosis. There are things citizens just know.

But for the more than 400,000 who take the U.S. Naturalization Test each year in their effort to become U.S. citizens, it’s an adopted knowledge, a matter of study and patience. The test is composed of a civics portion and an English portion and is administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

It’s the civics portion that tests how well a citizen, or potential citizen, knows the nation and its policies, government and history. It delves into American fundamentals that students begin learning in elementary school.

In fact, on a recent Thursday, a week before Independence Day, Clifton Elementary School students preparing for fifth grade with teacher Amanda Miller and classroom assistants Alysha Moore and Brittani Kissner demonstrated that the knowledge of citizenship is learned young.

The students were moving forward from a year of fourth-grade Colorado history and into fifth-grade U.S. history, but were prepared for some highlights from the U.S. Naturalization Test:

Question No. 1: Why does the U.S. flag have 50 stars?

Obviously, everyone knew that it had 50 stars, but Christin Delacuz-Pena’s hand shot into the air. “Because there are 50 states! One star for every state.”

Question No. 2: What is the capital of the United States?

Nathan Freeman had to slap his forehead when he said “Denver,” knowing as soon as he said it that he’d given the Colorado capital. Richard Gurule chimed in that it’s Washington, D.C., and Nathan nodded his agreement.

Question No. 3: What is the name of the U.S. national anthem?

“The Star Spangled Banner,” offered Harlee Miller, not needing Amanda Miller’s reminder that it’s the song students sing at assemblies.

Question No. 4: What did Martin Luther King Jr. do?

Isaac Hokanson considered his answer before trying to put it into words: “He helped it so everyone could be equal.”

Harlee added that King worked in civil rights, trying to change the country so that everyone would be treated the same “and not have to drink at different drinking fountains.”

Question No. 5: What was the U.S. war between the North and the South?

“The Civil War!” Josh Blanton said, almost before the question was finished.

Question No. 6: Who was the first U.S. president?

Again, it was almost too easy for these good citizens. “George Washington,” said Isaiah Lopez, and the other students were only disappointed that they hadn’t gotten to answer first.

Question No. 7: How old do you have to be to vote?

This was a tricky one, with an initial guess of 24 and some light head scratching. Then Angelina Hernandez hesitantly asked, “I think it’s 18?”

Question No. 8: Who is president now?

Yovani Plasencia-Lopez immediately answered, “Barack Obama.”

And while they were on their way to acing the civics portion of the U.S. Naturalization Test, it was their responses to the question “What do you love about America?” that spoke most to the power and blessing of citizenship.

“That we have fair laws,” Trinity Hughes offered.

“That we can all be friends,” Angelina said.

“That we have hamburgers!” Nathan said.

And after a pause, Josh said, “That we have freedom.”


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