A survey conducted by the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University found that about a third of citizens would fail the civics portion of the standard test given to immigrants applying for citizenship. Over 1,000 Americans over the age of 18 were asked 10 random questions from the actual exam. Thirty-five percent of people were able to answer five or less correctly.
The most commonly missed questions revolved around the different functions of government, and how power was distributed between the federal and state government. Seventy-five percent of respondents didn’t know what the judicial branch actually did, while 71% couldn’t name the Constitution as the “law of the land.” Fifty-seven percent could not define what an amendment was.
Most of the people surveyed did the best on history- and geography-related questions. Despite that, another study found that 60% of Americans believe that being able to pass the government portion of the naturalization exam is a prerequisite for a high school diploma.
According to U.S. News and World Report, 97% of immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship pass the test.