Australian citizenship test struggles

- Posted in Australia by Dominicon 23 January 2013

Native Australian citizens perform
almost as badly on the Australian
citizenship test as Brits and Kiwis.

A recent report published in The Australian newspaper showed that New Zealanders and Britons struggled more than any other nationality in the Australian citizenship test. While this may have come as an embarrassment for Kiwis and Brits - traditionally Australia's closest cousins - a follow up report showed that Australians struggle too.

Foreign citizens living in the country on an Australia visa can apply for citizenship after they have fulfilled certain requirements such as length of time living the country. However, as part of the process an applicant must pass a citizenship test - a series of multiple choice questions on Australian history, culture and what it means to be an Australian.

The Australian government has been reluctant to release results publicly in the past but an application under the Freedom of Information Act by The Advertiser newspaper managed to wheedle the results from Australian immigration officials.

The results showed that Swedish citizens scored the highest, with an average score of over 98%. The Swedes were quickly followed by the Dutch (97.6%), the Finnish (97.5%) and the French and Swiss with 97.4% each.

British applicants however ranked 18th overall with a score of 95.6%. Even more embarrassing however are the Kiwis, who ranked among the least knowledgeable about their closest neighbours with a pitiful score of just 72.6%.

Adelaide University Associate Professor in history and politics Paul Sendziuk came to the Brits and Kiwis' defence by claiming that the two nationalities were too often taking Australia's close relationships with New Zealand and the UK for granted and doing little to prepare for the test.

"It is interesting that applicants from the UK, and particularly New Zealand, perform less well than those from similarly developed and wealthy countries," said Professor Sendziuk.

"It is possible that they do not study enough because they feel that they can rely on their background knowledge of Australia, which is a fair-enough assessment given the level of cultural exchange that already exists between Australia and these places.

"It is also possibly that they take the rest a bit lightly - knowing that they are likely to achieve a pass mark even without much study."

The results make for cringe worthy reading for British and Kiwi applicants but there was one nationality that wasn't assessed that perhaps has even more reason to be embarrassed: Australians.

In a follow up report in The Australian, the newspaper set out to find out how native Australian citizens would perform in the test. After polling almost 5,000 readers, it turned out that while most have a good grasp of Australian history and beliefs, just half had a decent understanding of the country's legal and judicial systems.

How much do you know about Australia? Click here to take a practice test, the answers can be found here.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.