How to Meet the Citizenship Test and Interview Requirement

2012 Citizenship Test Change

Becoming a Canadian citizen entails more than just being presented a citizenship certificate after taking an oath. While the citizenship test is the final step in the process, allowing people to vote and carry a Canadian passport, change in the test has resulted in an increased failing rate among certain immigrant communities.

One critic of the changes is University of Toronto politics professor Phil Triadafilopoulos, who teaches immigration and integration.  The professor claims that the exam plays the role of a gatekeeper or a barrier to people who would like to acquire Canadian citizenship whose their efforts are being hindered due to a more challenging exam.

Old test version vs. new test version

The 2010 test version is based on a 68-page study guide which is longer than previous editions and covers more ground.  In order to pass the multiple-choice section, potential citizens must achieve a score of 15 out of 20 compared to the previous score of 12 out of 20.

According to Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, the purpose of the new test is to reinforce requirements laid out in Canada’s Citizenship Act which requires potential citizens to meet residency, language, and civic-literacy requirements.

Kenney’s office commented that exam results are closely monitored and the discrepancies between different states’ passing rates does not mean that the playing field needs to be leveled.

Critics comment that the test functions as a de facto language exam, and has driven many immigrant-service groups to offer citizenship classes in addition to language classes. This places a strong emphasis on becoming familiar with significant Canadian names and vocabulary that are likely to be raised on the exam.

Who can take the test?

The citizenship test is available to people who:

  • are between the ages of 18 and 54;

  • meet the eligibilities for citizenship; and

  • are applying to retain Canadian citizenship.

A quick look at the test

Normally, the test is in written form, however you may be requested to appear before a citizenship judge for an interview.

Two things are evaluated in the test:

  1. Knowledge of Canada

  • right to vote and right to run for elected office

  • procedures related to elections

  • rights and responsibilities of a citizen

  • Canadian social and cultural history and symbols

  • Canadian political history (including the political system and institutions)

  • Canadian physical and political geography

  1. English or French language abilities – The knowledge test and your interaction with the personnel of the CIC will be used to evaluate whether you have an acceptable ability to communicate in English or French. CIC officials will take into account:

  • your ability to comprehend the basics of verbal statements and questions

  • your capacity to communicate critical information or to address a question

  • As part of transacting with the personnel of the CIC or as part of your written test or interview with a citizenship judge, they expect you to:

    1. address an uncomplicated question related to a topic that is familiar to you;

    2. establish that you can express yourself in English or French for daily communication

    3. state a short story of your daily activities;

    4. talk about anything you experienced in the past;

    5. provide simple instructions or directions;

    6. convey satisfaction or frustration.

Preparing for the Citizenship test

Do not be afraid of the test because prior to your test date, you have sufficient time to review the materials thoroughly. The questions will be based on the information summarized in the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) free study guide.

After taking the test

If you pass:

After passing the citizenship test, or if the citizenship judge decided that you meet the criteria for citizenship, you shall receive an invitation to attend the citizenship ceremony or the swearing-in where you will take an oath of citizenship and receive your certificate of Canadian citizenship.

If you failed:

You will receive the notice asking you to come for an interview, which will take about 30 to 90 minutes, with a citizenship judge. The interview serves as another opportunity for you to pass by demonstrating that you meet all the criteria. During the interview, the judge will use the test questions orally.

Before the Citizenship test

Before you become eligible for citizenship test, you will need to pass through several immigration procedures. Taking the test is not the only barrier to your dream of becoming real Canadian citizen. There are other requirements, criteria or qualifications that you need to pass or meet and you may need the assistance of an immigration lawyer on this part because doing the process all by yourself could cause your citizenship application some trouble.

Immigration ally

If you would like the help and experience of superb legal services to promote your immigration objective, Niren and Associates, an immigration firm existing for over 15 years, can certainly meet your needs. Do you have a quick question that you would like to be addressed now? Call our dedicated team of immigration lawyers at 1-866-929-0991 or send your query to

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

  • Shalaka

    What kind of questions judge Will asked in an interview ?
    Is it with book related or personal…

    • Mira Freiwat

      Hello Shalaka,

      Thank you for your post. Be prepared to answer both personal or book related questions while preparing for your citizenship and make sure to review all the information you need to be ready for the exam. MF

  • chavda nikunj

    how can i make my visa…?

    • Sarah Jane MacDonald

      Hello Chavda,

      Please fill out our online assessment form and one of our experienced immigration professionals will get back to you within 24 hours.

      Sarah Jane

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