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Citizenship Test Prep

Practice Questions & Explanations

Citizenship Civics Test Prep: Week 5!

Happy Halloween! 

Welcome to week 5 of my 20 week series on the civics portion of the US citizenship test.  This week's theme is states.  There are several questions about states' rights and geography on the test.

The government of the United States is structured so that there is a division of powers between the federal (or national) government, the state governments, and local governments.  The US Constitution contains several "enumerated" powers that belong to Congress.  These include, among others, the power to regulate commerce, collect taxes, provide for the military, declare war, and coin money.  Those powers not specifically given to the federal government in the constitution are "reserved" for the states.  

Question 21: Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the states.  What is one power of the states? 

Answers: (a) provide schooling and education; (b) provide protection (police); (c) provide safety (fire departments); (d) give a driver's license; (e) approve zoning and land use

Keep in mind you only have to provide one of these answers to get this question correct.  

A) States have the exclusive power to provide public education.  Although the federal government includes the Department of Education, this agency is not responsible for creating schools, designing curricula, hiring teachers, or determining test standards.  These responsibilities are left up to the states.  The Department of Education is merely an agency to help distribute federal money to state and local governments for educational purposes.  States establish primary and secondary schools, as well as public colleges and universities. 

B) The states get their police power from the 10th Amendment, which "reserves" any powers not given to the federal government for the states.  There is no federal police power, so the police are solely regulated by the states. 

C) As with the police, fire departments and other public safety organizations are solely state agencies.  There is no federal fire department.

D) Driver's licenses are issued by each state's Department of Motor Vehicles, which typically also handle vehicle registration and sometimes vehicle inspection.  There is no federal agency that issues driver's licenses.

E) Zoning and land use are typically left up to the local governments.  Zoning refers to how a local government will designate a certain piece of land for a certain type of purpose.  For example, land can be zoned for residential purposes, commercial purposes, or agricultural purposes.  If land is zoned for residential purposes, you probably can't conduct business or have livestock on the property.  

Question 22: Who is the governor of your state now? 

Answer: will vary

The answer to this question depends on what state you live in.  Right now, the governor of North Carolina is Pat McCrory.  However, this may change after the November 8 election.  The current governor of Virginia is Terry McAuliffe.  If you live in a different state, you can find out who your governor is by clicking here.  

Question 23: What is the capital of your state? 

Answer: will vary 

As with Question 22, the answer to this question depends on what state you live in.  The capital of North Carolina is Raleigh.  The capital of Virginia is Richmond.  If you live in another state, you can look up your state's capital on this chart.  

Question 24: Name one state that borders Canada.

Answers: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Alaska 

Peace Arch between Blaine, Washington (US) and Surrey, British Columbia (Canada) 

Peace Arch between Blaine, Washington (US) and Surrey, British Columbia (Canada) 

Keep in mind you only have to name one of these states to get this question correct. 

Canada is one of our greatest allies.  We have a peaceful border with Canada that stretches 5,500 miles (8,800 kilometers) from Maine to Washington.  The United States/Canada border is the longest border in the world between two countries.  

Additionally, the state of Alaska borders Canada.  Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, and became the 49th state in the United States in 1959.  

Question 25: Name one state that borders Mexico.

Answers: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas

Border at Tijuana (Mexico) and San Diego (United States)

Border at Tijuana (Mexico) and San Diego (United States)

Keep in mind you only have to name one of these states to get this question correct. 

The border between the United States and Mexico is the most frequently crossed controlled international boundary in the world.  Over 350 million crossings occur annually, with an estimated half a million people crossing illegally each year.  The border runs from the Gulf of Mexico at Texas to the Pacific Ocean at California.  

The US/Mexico border has been a focus of the 2016 presidential election, with the two candidates having very different strategies of how to establish better security along the border and prevent illegal border crossings.



We are 1/4 of the way through the potential test questions!  As a reminder, you will only be asked ten of these questions at your citizenship interview, and you will only be required to get six of them right in order to pass the test.  However, it's a good idea to know the answers to all 100 questions so you are prepared for whatever questions the officer asks you on the day of your test.  

I'll be back next week with more test questions.  In the meantime, subscribe to my blog below so you'll be updated when I post something new!