Australian government to review citizenship test

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Australian immigration minister Chris Evans announced that there would be a review of the citizenship test after results were analyzed for the period between 01 October 2007, when the test was introduced, and 31 December 2007.

10,725 tests were completed during this period. About 20 percent of those who took the test during this period failed their first attempt. However, the government of Australia was keen to point out that the review had little to do with the high fail rate.

"The Government supports the citizenship test, however a review of portfolio programs and undertakings – including the content of the test and the support services provided with it – is the normal process of any new government," Evans said.

"If there are ways to improve service delivery or client interaction, we will consider them," he added.

Evans clarified the figures by pointing out that most people pass the test on their next try.

"[The 10,275] figure represents the number of tests – and not the number of applicants sitting the tests," Evans said. "In fact 8402 people have sat the test, some more than once if their first attempt was not successful. Of that total, about 90 percent passed on their first or subsequent attempt."

Australia's newly introduced citizenship test is for migrants who have lived in the country for at least four years and want to apply for naturalization. Applicants must answer 20 questions on Australian history, values, and lifestyle. Applicants can sit the test as many times as needed to make the 60 percent pass mark.

"The important message for me from these figures is that people are continuing to apply to take out Australian citizenship, a substantial proportion of them are passing, and that if there is room for improvement, it may well be around the support resources and materials we provide to applicants," Evans said.

"If people are not succeeding, we need to find out why, and how we can help to support them better. It's all about making the process work better for all concerned," he added.

Evans said he was waiting for advice from his department on the next batch of draft questions to be added to the pool of questions that currently comprise the test. Questions are randomly chosen to make up the 20 that the migrant must answer.