Your naturalization interview consists two important tests: English and civics. You must pass the two tests to become a citizen, unless you qualify for an exemption. The English test covers reading, writing and speaking, while the civics test focuses on the fundamental history and government of the United States.
For people who have been studying or working in the U.S., these tests are fairly easy to pass. But there are certainly new immigrants who need a lot of help to prepare for the tests. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides excellent and free study materials for this purpose. You can download them directly at uscis.gov (some of them are also available right here on this page). If you don't have access to a computer or internet, you can find most of them at your local library or a community organization.
If you fail one or both of the tests, you can schedule for another interview to re-take the test, usually within 60 - 90 days. If you fail again, your application for naturalization will be denied. However, you may re-apply (submit a new application with fees) for citizenship at any time.
The immigration law requires that you must be able to read, write, and speak basic English in order to be eligible for citizenship.
The civics test consists 100 questions about the history and government of the United States. During your interview, you will be asked up to 10 questions from the list. You must correctly answer at least six (6) of them to pass the test.
You may be eligible for a waiver of the English test if you meet certain requirements. There are two types of exemptions: your age and time as permanent resident, or medical reasons.
Note that your time as a permanent resident does not have to be continuous. As long as your total time after you obtained a green card meets the requirement, you will be eligible for the English test exemption.
If you choose to take the civics test in your native language, or any language other than English, you must bring an interpreter with you to the interview.
If you have access to the internet, the easiest way to prepare for the Citizen test is to study the materials provided by the USCIS. Many of them are already linked on this page. There are also materials in foreign languages.
Many schools and community organizations offer free or low-cost programs that can help you prepare for the tests. They may also be able to help you fill out N-400 and other naturalization related forms. If you know such a place, please let us know and we may be able to publish a directory in the near future.