Higher number of immigrants failing Canadian citizenship test: To what end?

New Canadian citizenship test had five times the failure rate

A new Canadian citizenship test was introduced this past March, along with a special, more in-depth citizenship guide that was designed to inform immigrants of Canada’s laws, culture and politics.

Since this new test and accompanying study guide have come out, failure rates have increased five-fold. The failure rate for the old test was between four and eight per cent, and initial versions of the new test brought about an average failure rate of 30 per cent – more than five times the failure rate of the old Canadian citizenship test.

Canadian citizenship test revised once again

After the Canadian citizenship test failure rate skyrocketed to 30 per cent, yet another new version was introduced in October. However, the failure rate still remains high – an average 20 per cent. Both reworked versions of the test also have a higher passing mark, 75 per cent, compared with 60 per cent for the older Canadian citizenship test.

Different cities report higher failure rates with the second reworked test as well, including 33 per cent in most of Toronto.

The test was reworked for the second time because thousands who failed the test – a requirement for nearly all immigrants – had to appear before citizenship judges to plead their case for about one hour each, which caused major backlogs in the system.

Is a Canadian citizenship test really that important?

I don’t think so. I know a lot of immigrants, now very successful Canadians, who arrived here years ago, with little money, little English or French and certainly no clue about our Parliamentary System. Many of these people have, over the years, turned out as great Canadians who speak better than I do! Requiring immigrants to pass a test based on what our government considers to be acceptable standards for membership into the “Canadian Club” seem inherently arbitrary to me.  Give people a chance. Immigrants, as a group, have more than proven themselves worthy.

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

  • Shirley

    I need help on what to do if I failed the test, both written and oral in front the judge.

  • Sara

    I immigrated from England 34 yrs ago as a child with my family. I am currently waiting for my citizenship. I wrote the new test in August and still have not heard if I passed. I have been educated in the Canadian system and I am a RN in the ER. Let me just say I studied for the test and it was not as easy as people might think. I asked my fellow staff members a few questions. Guess what the got the answers wrong and they were born in Canada. So I think people are to quick to judge!!

    • Thank you for your comments Sara. Unfortunately it seems that a lot of people are having difficulties with this new Citizenship test. Let’s hope they revise it to make it more reasonable.

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