Before taking the naturalization exam, a person must fill out the Application for Naturalization, be at least 18 years of age, be a permanent resident and have continuous residence in the United States for at least five years and be of good moral character, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The exam tests the applicant's knowledge of English and civics.
The naturalization test includes speaking, reading and writing portions in addition to the civics exam. The speaking test occurs during the applicant's interview with a USCIS officer. The officer asks questions about information on the application for naturalization to determine the applicant's eligibility for citizenship. The applicant must then demonstrate his ability to read English by correctly reading one of three sentences aloud. The applicant must then correctly write one of three sentences. The reading and writing portions focus on history and civics topics, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicates.
Some applicants may be exempt from portions of the naturalization test. Applicants over age 50 who have lived in the United States for at least 20 years or applicants over age 55 who have lived in the United States for at least 15 years may be exempt from the English portion of the test, but they must still must take the civics exam. Other applicants may be exempt from the English or civics portion of the test due to mental, developmental or physical disabilities, notes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.