Sunday, May 15, 2011

Misleading advertising or something much worse?

Have you ever looked at test questions the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses in interviews with aspiring citizens? This isn't easy stuff. They ask new citizens to learn a lot. I doubt most U.S.-educated high school grads would do very well on this test.

While looking for something else, I recently ran across a website that purports to offer a "Free Online Practice System for United States of America Citizenship Test." Ever curious, I thought I'd give it a try. It throws up 5 multiple choice questions and grades your answers. Here's one result from my first set:

citizenship-test-1.jpg

That was interesting I thought. I'm enough of a student of history so I could certainly make a case for "economic reasons." I could even, maybe, make a case for "election freedom," based on some of the overheated passions that accompanied voting in the 1860 Presidential election, especially in the states located between far South and farther North. But I did think that an election whose subtext was an argument over continuation of human slavery might have something to do with "human rights." Apparently not on this site's version of the test.

Curious, I tried another round of questions:
citizenship-test-2.jpg

Since I was now on to the test's biases, I had no trouble with this one. But unless you were brought up in the states of the Old Confederacy about 40 years ago, you probably think the war in question had a more familiar name. Don't you? I thought so.

The biases demonstrated by this test prep site are not present in the list of official answers provided by the USCIS to examiners. The test prep site answers are not "wrong" -- but they sure aren't the most common answers expected. Here are the relevant real acceptable answers:

3real-citizenship-test-answers.jpg
I'd like to think new citizens aren't being tutored in regressive history. We have enough regressive present.

2 comments:

Rain said...

I just got this one from Darlene. I felt it had a right slant but a lot of the questions were basic to what our country has for history.
http://www.isi.org/quiz.aspx?q=FE5C3B47-9675-41E0-9CF3-072BB31E2692

janinsanfran said...

I took the quiz that Rain suggested and got 96 percent right. On much of it, I think it helped simply to have lived a little longer than young folks coming out of school. Here's a clickable link.

The economic questions struck me as intended to lead toward a right wing understanding of how the world works. They treat a particular kind of market system as the one and only way to organize an economy. That's simply not true. The one answer of mine they rated as incorrect was something on which I disagreed with their frame and just got tired of figuring out how to answer "correctly."

Folks should take the test. It's interesting.

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