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Citizenship 101

In reading the U.S. citizenship test, you'd think you were reading questions from a trivia game, not an exam needed to become a naturalized American. "How many stars are in our flag?" "What date is the Day of Independence?" The exam reads more like a game of memorization.

But that's all about to change. The government is revising the test in hopes of requiring applicants to do more thoughtful analysis of what they have learned. The revised test will cover the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the themes of democracy and freedom - questions that our leaders in Washington hope will stimulate discussion and teach our newest Americans a thing or two about the principles and values that have made our country so great.

Some critics say the tougher test may only discourage legal residents from becoming citizens. But what's the point of having applicants memorize disjointed facts? A test that focuses on useful concepts can only help our newest Americans better understand their new home and encourage them to participate in civic duties, such as voting.

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