News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Could You Pass A U.S. Citizenship Test? Well, 63 Percent Of Texans Couldn't.

Claire Harbage

Texans, it turns out, don't know their U.S. history. A new study from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found 63 percent of respondents in Texas failed a quiz based on questions from the U.S. citizenship examination.

The 41,000-person survey found roughly four in 10 respondents nationally couldn't pass the 20-question test. Vermont was the only state in which a majority of respondents passed. Texas ranked 40th overall.

The quiz was comprised of civics questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's list of 100 questions that could be posed to applicants by nationalization test administrators.

But Patrick Riccards, chief of communications for the Wilson Foundation, points out the survey given to the study's respondents is easier than the one actually administered to those noncitizens hoping to nationalize. That 10-question test is administered orally, meaning would-be citizens don't have the benefit of a multiple-choice safety net. Applicants need to answer at least six questions to pass the civics test.

"We can see that Texans – whether it be the American Revolution, whether it be World War II, whether it be the Cold War – they struggled with the basic facts that we know everybody learns while they're in high school," he said. "And ... it doesn't matter what part of Texas you're in. We can see that even if high school students are learning these basic facts and figures and dates as part of their high school curriculum, they're not retaining it."

Only 15 percent of national respondents could correctly say when the U.S. Constitution was written; a quarter didn't know speech was protected under the First Amendment.

"No matter what state you live in, Americans simply don't know their American history," Riccards said.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit .

Andrew Weber is a freelance reporter and associate editor for KUT News. A graduate of St. Edward's University with a degree in English, Andrew has previously interned with The Texas Tribune, The Austin American-Statesman and KOOP Radio.