Wondering what the Canadian citizenship test is all about?

There’s no doubt that Canada is one of the ideal immigration destinations of the world. It has good governance policies, a progressive economy and vibrant lifestyle. The quality of life and high per capita income makes it appealing to immigrants.

To become a Canadian citizen, you’ll need dedication and diligence. In particular, you’ll need to pass the Canadian citizenship test.

This article details everything you need to know about the Canadian citizenship test.

Benefits of Canadian Citizenship

Permanent residents have almost all of the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Nevertheless, the usual exceptions apply: voting, running for office, serving on a jury and getting a passport.  Educational institutions or employers also can’t discriminate against you. 

However citizenship is coveted as the ultimate price and is very significant. As a citizen you’ll be entitled to:

  • Free healthcare
  • Access to restricted jobs
  • The right to vote in elections at all levels and run for political office
  • Travel freely without worrying about loss of status
  • The right to own a Canadian passport
  • Not renew immigration documents
  • Dual nationality
  • A monthly pension benefit. Retired employees of a Government or of a Private Institution.

About the Canadian citizenship test

The Canadian citizenship test is basically the last step to Canadian citizenship. 

It’s run by Canada’s Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC).  If you’re 18 – 54 year and would like to apply for citizenship, you’re required to take it.

If you’re a permanent resident of Canada, you need to live in Canada for 4 years before you can apply for Canadian citizenship.

Passing this test is a confirmation that you have sufficient knowledge of Canada as detailed in the approved official study guide and that you understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

What the Canadian citizenship test Entails

The test is only available in Canada’s official languages of English and French.

It’ll take you a total of 30 minutes to complete. Use that time to carefully read through the questions and answer them appropriately. If you’ve covered the study guide comprehensively this should be extremely easy for you.

In total there’ll be 20 multiple choice questions. And to pass you must answer at least 15 of them correctly. The format presented requires 4 possible answers per question. That’s unless it’s a true/false question with only two possible answers. In this case, you’ll need to pick the best answer.

All in all you’re allowed 5 wrong answers, but you’ve got to answer ALL the questions. If you don’t know an answer, take a guess. There’s a 25% chance of getting it right plus you won’t be penalized for a wrong answer.

The Canadian citizenship test is written, but in some cases might be oral. The IRCC decides  whether you’ll take an oral or written test, depending on their preferred criteria. If oral, you’ll be interviewed by a citizenship officer.

About Discover Canada: The Canadian citizenship test’s Official Study Guide

The questions in the test are specially drawn from a pool of around 200. They’re based on the content of Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, the official study guide. 

This guide is a 63 page booklet with 10 chapters of testable content. After each chapter you’ll find a set of practice questions related to that topic. The guide can be obtained from IRCC at no cost. Or, you can read it online, download the PDF/app or simply listen to the  audio at no cost as well. There’re very small differences between the print, audio and electronic versions of the study guide. These differences though won’t affect your ability to prepare for the test.

It’s also crucial to ensure that your copy was issued in 2011 because anything before that is outdated. In addition, this is your primary resource. Anything contrary is a risk and will jeopardize your plans for success.

Below are the testable topics on Canada:

  • Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship
  • Federal Elections
  • Who We Are
  • The Justice System
  • Canada’s History
  • Canadian Symbols
  • Modern Canada
  • Canada’s Economy
  • How Canadian’s Govern Themselves
  • Canada’s Regions

Something to remember is that the test checks for language proficiency. To pass you must understand simple statements and questions and communicate simple information to IRCC staff in either French or English.

Once you’ve applied, IRCC will send you a letter informing you when and where to take your test. It’s also important to note that the period it’ll take between the submission of your citizenship application and the day of your test is different in every case and depends on IRCC processing times.

The Canadian citizenship test Day

On the test day you must arrive on time or even earlier. If you’re late you’ll miss the test. Before the test day, prudently set aside some time to know exactly how to get to the test location and how long it’ll take.

Since you can’t take anyone with you into the exam room make prior arrangements. Specifically for childcare or a minder for an ailing person or the elderly (if necessary).

If there’s no alternative, a friend, family member or childminder can wait for you in the nearby waiting area. However this isn’t advisable. It’ll be better if you made advance arrangements. Avoid distractions that may cause you to fail the test.

Also note that the entire test process will take a few hours. Each person taking the test that day will go through a verification procedure before taking the test. This is purely standard procedure.

The duration of the entire process will depend on how many people are taking the test. As well as the number of citizenship officers available.

On arrival, you’ll present the confirmation letter sent to you about the test date to the receptionist. You’ll then be asked to wait for the citizenship officer to call you. The officer will conduct an informal interview that can take about 10-30 minutes.

You’ll be required to present all the original documents that you had been asked to carry with you. See below:

  • A Record of Landing [IMM 1000] or Confirmation of Permanent Residence [IMM 5292 or IMM 5509], and permanent resident card (PRC), only where applicable;
  • One other identity document that includes a photograph (and preferably a signature);
  • All passports and travel documents in your possession;
  • The original of all supporting documents sent with the application.

Questions to expect regarding your application are where you work, why you applied for citizenship, all the places you have lived as an example.

The citizenship officer will ask to see your passport and may match any or all stamps/visas found with your entry/exit dates on your residency calculator. Be ready to explain all your absences from Canada (before and after you applied for citizenship).

If you don’t have a stamp/visa corresponding to one of your entry/exit from your residency calculator, try to provide different proof of absence and time of absence; such as a print-out of an airline ticket.

If you have a lot of stamps/visas in your passport, it’d be a good idea to prepare a table showing the information related to each stamp; passport page number, dates of entry/exit, country, duration of travel and reason for travel. This will help to sort out all your absences from Canada.

Once done, wait again for everybody to finish their respective interviews. At the scheduled time of the test, the proctor (the person supervising and monitoring the test) will invite you all to enter the exam room. You’ll seat on long desks with dividers to avoid any interaction. So if any of your friends and family are taking the test with you, be aware that you’ll not be allowed to interact at all. Anything that goes against could lead to consequences that include failing the test.

Also, pre-sharpened pencils will be supplied. You’re not allowed to bring water or food into the test room and all electronic devices must be switched off.

After the Canadian citizenship test

After you’re done with the Canadian citizenship test, leave the room and wait. You’ll be called one at a time for the results.

If you’ve passed and have met all the basic requirements it’s highly likely you’ll get a date for your citizenship ceremony. If not, they’ll mail you a letter with the date and time. It usually takes place within 4 – 6 months of the citizenship test. At the ceremony, you’ll take the oath of citizenship, after which you’ll be given your citizenship certificate.

Even if you pass the test, you might receive a residency questionnaire asking for more evidence/information about the time you’ve spent in the country. In this case, they’ll send you a letter with information on where and when to present yourself for an interview with a citizenship officer. This is likely to happen if you’ve traveled a lot outside Canada or have a complex application.

What Happens If You Fail the Canadian citizenship test

If you fail, but meet all other requirements to become a citizen, you’ll be scheduled for a second test. That second test will usually take place 3 – 4 weeks after the first. More importantly, if you can’t take the test, inform IRCC promptly. Once you finish your second test, your results will be relayed to you same as the one for the first test.

If you don’t pass the second test, you’ll be scheduled for an interview with a citizenship officer that lasts 30 to 90 minutes. You’ll be asked oral questions about your application and your residency in Canada.

The officer will also give you oral tests to gauge your proficiency in french or english as well as your knowledge of the testable topics in the study guide.

Before you attend this interview do everything possible to prepare and demonstrate significant knowledge of Canada as detailed in the study guide especially rights and responsibilities of citizenship, symbols, democracy, governance and the justice system.

Additionally, they might require you to prove your residency requirement. That means that the officer might ask you for lease documents, tax documents or even bank statements to support your case.

Essentially you have to prove to the officer that you were physically present in Canada when you say you were in your citizenship application. Physical presence means having been in Canada for at least 1460 days in the six years immediately before the date of your application. This is crucial. Physically present means you must have had your two feet on Canadian ground.

Time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident (within the six year period) doesn’t count. You can only count time after you became a permanent resident of Canada. The officer might also ask you for every single proof of your stay in Canada, so carry all the documents that support your application. Don’t forget that the officer has to approve your case, there’s no other way. So ensure that you take this interview seriously.

If you meet all the requirements as requested by the officer then you’ll have high chances of success. Always check the Citizenship and Immigration website for any further questions, or simply to check that they aren’t any important updates to this process.

What Happens if you Miss the Canadian citizenship test

If you miss the test there are certain steps you should take. These steps are dependent on whether it was;

  • a first notice to write the test,
  • a final notice to write the test, or
  • a notice to re-write the test.

If it was your first time, contact IRCC to inform them that you missed it. Or wait to be automatically rescheduled to another date.

You’ve also got 30 days from the test day to inform the IRCC why you missed the test. The mode of communication should be through a letter sent by post mail or email using this Web form.

If they find that your reason is valid, you’ll receive a notice with a new test date. This will be treated as a first notice in case you miss the new date but only if your reason is approved as valid.

If your reason isn’t valid, you’ll be automatically rescheduled for a new date. This will be the final notice to sit the test. The date set is usually 2 weeks from the date of the test you missed.

If you missed your first test, received a final notice to write the test and still missed that test too you must contact IRCC within 30 days of the test date. Note that they’ll close your citizenship application if you don’t contact them within 30 days or you don’t have a valid reason for missing the test. 

If you failed the test and were scheduled for a second one you must also contact the IRCC in 30 days of the test date you missed. In case your reason is valid, you’ll get a new notice to rewrite the Canadian citizenship test. If you haven’t contacted the IRCC in 30 days or your reason isn’t valid your citizenship application will be closed.

You’ll have to apply for citizenship again and pay the required fees.

How to Prepare for the Test

To prepare adequately and ensure that you pass this test, here’s what you need to do:

  • Read the Discover Canada official study guide comprehensively till you can almost recite everything by heart. 
  • The best way to gauge your preparedness is to take as many practice tests as possible. There are over 1000 questions that you can refer to. 
  • Enroll in a class or get a tutor to help you along with the difficult sections of your study.
  • Start a study group with other applicants. Studying together will motivate you and keep you on track.

Questions to Expect in the Test

  1. In the 1960s Quebec experienced an era of rapid change. What is this called?
  2. a)    The West Movement
  3. b)    The Revolution
  4. c)    The Quiet Revolution
  5. d)    La Francophonie
  6. Name the 5 regions of Canada.
  7. a)    Midwest, North, South, East, Central
  8. b)    Maritimes, Ontario, Quebec, Prairies and British Columbia
  9. c)    Atlantic, Central, Prairie, West Coast and North
  10. d)    West, Central, East, Prairies and Territories
  11. Name 6 responsibilities of citizenship.
  12. a)    Get a job, make money, raise a family, pay taxes, mow your lawn, vote
  13. b)    Vote, join a political party, get a job, obey the law, drive safely, pick up litter
  14. c)    Care for the environment, don’t litter, pay taxes, obey the law, help others, respect others
  15. d) Vote, help others, care for our heritage and environment, obey Canada’s laws, respect the rights of others, eliminate injustice
  16. What song is Canada’s national anthem?
  17. a) God save the Queen
  18. b) Canada
  19. c) Star Spangled Banner
  20. d) Amazing Grace

In Conclusion

Now you know what you need to do to get your Canadian citizenship.

It’s easy to pass the Canadian citizenship test if you have a strategy and work hard at it. 

The IRCC takes a tough stance on inconsistencies and you may be penalized if there’s no good reason for not meeting the set guidelines.