Taking your citizenship test? 5 tips to ace it

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You finally received your notice to appear to write the citizenship test. This is another step closer to your goal. You are well on your way to becoming a Canadian citizen!

When you get your notice, it will state when (date and time) and where you will take the exam, what you need to bring, and what you should do if you cannot make it to the assigned date and time. If you need any accommodations to take the test, let IRCC know as soon as you get your notice. For example, if you need wheelchair access, Braille or large print format of the exam, let your local IRCC office know right away.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the exam and pass it with flying colours:

First, what the exam will be like:

The citizenship test will evaluate if you have adequate knowledge about Canada. In order to participate fully as a citizen, you should know your rights, freedoms and responsibilities. You should also know:

  • Canada’s history
  • Form of government
  • Politics and political history
  • Social and cultural history
  • Symbols

When you arrive at the venue on exam day, you will be asked to go to a waiting room with other applicants. On the exact scheduled time of the exam, the proctor or invigilator (the person who will supervise and monitor the proceedings) will invite all the applicants to enter the exam room. You will be seated on long desks with dividers which prevent applicants from seeing each other’s papers. Family members will be advised not to sit next to each other. The proctor will provide clear instructions. Make sure to listen and follow them carefully.

The test will be made up of 20 questions. It will be multiple choice type and you will be given 30 minutes to finish the exam. In order to pass, you need to answer at least 15 questions correctly. If you pass the exam, you will be called for a short interview. The citizenship officer will verify your identity and the originals of the documents you provided at the time you applied. He or she will also ask a few questions to verify your knowledge of English or French. When this is done, congratulations! You need just one last step to become a citizen – the oath taking ceremony. You will receive your invitation to the ceremony by mail. It will take place around 4-6 months after the exam.

If your score is lower than 15, you will be re-scheduled for a retake. You can take the test again in three to four weeks. You will be informed of the date, time and place by mail. If you don’t pass the second test, you will be called in to attend an interview with a citizenship officer. The interview lasts from 30-90 minutes and will test your knowledge about Canada and your language proficiency.

Tips to prepare:

  1. Study ahead of time.

    Do not cram. This will only add to your stress and take off your focus from what you need to learn.

  2. Read and understand Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

    It is the only official study guide. Discover Canada is free and available in various formats:

    You will find all the answers to the test in this guide. It is important that you read and understand it. The 63-page booklet is well-written, simple to understand, and has many beautiful photos and illustrations. Discover Canada is easy to read and re-read several times.

  3. Enroll in a class

    If you have time, it could be helpful to take a review class. You can ask questions and discuss some points with an instructor or classmates. This will help make the information in the book easier to understand and remember. Immigrant Centre offers free citizenship classes for language benchmark 4 or higher. The classes are held once a week (2 hours) for six weeks.

  4. Start your own review class

    If your schedule will not permit you to attend classes, you can start your own review class. If you are taking the citizenship test with your family members or friends, you can use Citizenship Study Materials for Newcomers to Manitoba for your own review class. It is based on the official study guide. It is also written in plain language and has guide questions to help you focus on the important details of each chapter.

  5. Try out online tests

    These are not official questions but they can help you review what you’ve read. They also help you practice answering multiple choice questions. On a side note, have you ever asked someone who has taken the citizenship test to give you sample questions and they refused? They are not being selfish. They are following rules. Examinees are warned not to share test questions because they are copyrighted. Anyway, if you want to try online practice tests here are some:

    Some practice test websites also offer additional coaching support or review materials for a fee. Some avail of these services when they have limited time to review (for example they received the invitation for the exam late and they need to take the test the same week or the following week). This can be helpful to some but if you can read and understand the official guide, it is not recommended that you spend money on coaching or review materials. Often, a combination of reading the official guide and trying out free online tests are enough. But you know your capabilities better, so use your own discretion.

Before you go:

  1. Review your notice. Make sure that you have the right date and time.
  2. Check the address of the venue. If you are not familiar with the place, check Google Maps, ask a friend or check Navigo to know where it is and how to get there.
  3. Gather the required documents. You may need to photocopy some of them. Check the instructions on the letter inviting you for the exam. And don’t forget to bring that letter!
  4. Arrange for child care if you have young children. They will not be allowed inside the testing/interview room if you bring them with you.
  5. You may be better off asking for a whole day off from work to prevent stress. While the test itself takes only 30 minutes, it will be hard to estimate the time needed to process the exam and interview. You can be in for long wait times if there are a lot of examinees.

On the test day:

Don’t be late! Be there 15-30 minutes early. No one is allowed in the exam room after the time indicated on the invitation. You will have to wait 2-3 weeks for the next exam. If you are prevented from attending the exam due to an emergency, contact the local IRCC office within 30 days and provide a reasonable explanation.

During the test, read and understand the questions. You have about a minute and a half to answer each one. This is more than enough time. If you come upon a hard question, don’t stay on it for a long time. Move on to the next. When you’re done with all the numbers, go back to the question or questions that you missed. Check if you answered all the questions before submitting your paper.

Goodluck!

Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Retrieved May 11, 2018.

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