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24 November 2008
Australia will overhaul its citizenship test after a government-appointed committee found that the existing test needed improvement.
According to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, the focus of the new test will be the 'Pledge of Commitment' that new Australians will be required to make.
'The pledge is about our democratic beliefs, our laws and the rights, responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship,' Evans said. 'It is crucial that prospective citizens understand those concepts so the questions in the new test will focus on the commitments in the pledge rather than being a general knowledge quiz about Australia.'
'The Australian Citizenship Test Review Committee made the valid point that an understanding of our civic responsibilities and what it means to be a citizen is of fundamental importance to all citizens, whether we are Australian by birth or by choice,' he added.
A new citizenship test resource booklet is expected to be drawn up by educational and civic experts by August of 2009. The booklet will be divided into 'testable' and 'non-testable' sections.
The new test will draw its questions from the testable section of the resource booklet which will cover concepts associated with the pledge. The non-testable section will contain general information about Australia, including history, culture, and notable historical figures.
The pass mark for the citizenship test will rise from 60 percent to 70 percent. A good general knowledge of English is expected.
'We want to encourage all permanent residents to become citizens,' Evans said, adding that 'Raising the pass mark will ensure we have A-grade citizens who understand our democratic beliefs and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.'
Generally, permanent residents in Australia are eligible to become Australian citizens after living in the country for four years.