You have submitted your Naturalization Application (N-400) to the USCIS. You had your fingerprints collected by the USCIS field office. Then you receive your interview notice along with some study materials. It’s time to prepare for your interview. But how? The preparation depends on how the interview is conducted.
On the day of your interview, dress appropriately and comfortably. Be sure to arrive early at the field office and register so the USCIS knows you are there. If it is your turn to be interviewed, your name will be called. You will be ushered to a room where your interview will be conducted. Follow the instructions of the officer. Listen to the officer carefully. If you do not understand or you cannot hear well ask him or her to say it again or to speak little louder. Be nice to the officer. It does not help you if you are rude or grumpy.
The interview begins when the officer asks about your background based on the answers you have provided in your application. Besides checking the consistency of your information, they are also testing your English speaking skills. Weeks before your interview, print out a copy of your application and review all your answers. If you find any errors, note them down. You can have these corrected during the interview. Make sure your address, name and date of birth are correct. You can ask a friend or a relative to practice interviewing you using your application.
After the USCIS officer asked you about your background and your application, your English test comes next. The Officer will first make you read three sentences. You must be able to read at least one sentence correctly to pass this test. Once you have passed, the officer will ask you to write three sentences. You must be able to write at least one sentence correctly to pass this test too. It is very helpful to go over the list of vocabulary words from your study materials. Look for the meaning of words you are not familiar with and practice using them in a sentence while conversing in English with friends or relatives.
Last but not the least, the officer will give you the Civics test. This is an oral test. The officer will ask you 10 questions out of the 100 questions from the list that you must study and prepare for. Remembering more than 100 answers to 100 questions might seem hard. Here are some helpful tips to help you study and remember:
1. If you are given a CD, listen to it at home or while you drive. Repetition helps one remember. Keep listening to it until you have memorized the questions and the answers.
2. Remember the answers by association. Example: To remember the date of our Independence Day, associate this with fireworks on July 4th. Add 1776 to get the date when the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
3. Group together questions with similar topics. The USCIS has already done this for you. Principles of Democracy (1-12), System of Government (13-47), Rights and Responsibilities (48-57) American History Colonial period and Independence (58-70) American History 1800’s (71-77), Recent American History (78-87) Geography (88-95), Symbols (96-98) and Holidays (99-100). You can study the questions by topic.
4. Make a memory aid. Example: What does the Constitution do? Answer: SDP. This is short for Sets up the Government, Defines the Government and Protect Basic Rights.
If you are asked to provide at least one answer from several available, select your answer according to its importance to you personally. Example: What is one right or freedom from the first amendment? Answer: Select one among the five freedoms (Speech, Religion, Assembly, Press and Petition the Government) that is important to you.
If you are asked to provide at least two answers, again pick the answers that speak to you personally. Example: Name three of the original 13 states. Your answers might be New York (because you have visited Times Square) Pennsylvania (because you visited Hershey’s Chocolate and you suffer toothaches from eating lots of chocolates) and Virginia (because your cousin and her family live there).
If you cannot find any personal connection for your answers, another way of remembering your answers is to group them with something that is common to all three. Example: New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire, all three begin with “New”. You can also pick Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia, all ending with “ia”.
5. Some people remember things if they write them down, so try re-writing the questions and answers on paper.
6. You can also read about the answers. The more you know about it and its meaning, the more you can remember it very well.
However you study, pick a system that works best for you. Pick a time of the day that helps you study and remember, be it early morning or late at night. Each one of us is unique. We learn and absorb ideas differently at a different pace.
On the night before your interview, try to relax and go to bed early so you can wake up refreshed. Go to the location of your assigned field office early. Take into account the wait time for traffic and security checks. It is better to be early and have time to calm your nerves so you can think properly rather than coming in late and being stressed.
Best of luck to you!