Australia's citizenship test by the numbers

Did you know that 2319 Kiwis sat Australia's citizenship test in 2014-15 and none failed? As the government seeks to make Australia's citizenship process more difficult, SBS examines how tough the current test is.

australian citizenship

Becoming an Australian citizen is set to become harder under new rules announced by the Prime Minister. Source: AAP

Humanitarian migrants applying for citizenship in 2014-15 sat 2.4 tests on average, compared to 1.1 for skilled migrants, highlighting that the last hurdle to becoming an Australian already poses a significant challenge to some applicants.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in April an overhaul of the citizenship test designed to "make the country stronger".

"What we're doing is strengthening the multicultural society and strengthening the commitment to Australian values."

The test is to be to include reading, writing and listening components, and will pose moral questions about family relationships.

Applicants will only be allowed to sit the test three times, and must prove they have a "competent" level of English.

Who passes, who fails - what the data shows

Statistics show migrants from various visa and country groups have radically different completion rates.

In 2014-15, the last year where statistics are available, 114,109 people sat the Australian citizenship test and 112,474 passed.

98.6 per cent of people passed the test, compared to 98.7 per cent in 2013-14, and 98.3 per cent in 2012-13.

In total the Department of Immigration ran 141,998 tests - on average 1.2 tests per applicant.

Pass rates varied based on the migration program or visa stream of the applicant, with humanitarian migrants passing 91.2 per cent of the time, and skilled migrants passing 99.7 per cent.

Chart showing skill migrants are most successful at the citizenship test
Skill migrants were most successful at the citizenship test in 2014-15. Source: SBS / , DIBP

Mr Turnbull said applicants will only be allowed to sit the test three times.

That may pose a problem for many humanitarian migrants. That group sat 2.4 tests on average in 2014-15.

According to a response from the Department to a request for more information, 3447 people failed the citizenship test more than three times in 2015-16.

Citizenship statistics by migration stream
Pass rates of the citizenship test varied by migration stream in 2014-15. Source: SBS / , DIBP

Pass rates also varied by the country of birth of the applicant.

Although Mr Turnbull has promised to increase the required level of English competency, the statistics show that applicants from English-speaking backgrounds typically have higher completion rates in the existing test.

"You will need to have competent English. That is a vital requirement, not a requirement at the moment," Mr Turnbull said on Thursday.

"We all know that the key to successful integration into the Australian community, to economic success and every success - social success - in becoming part of the community is being able to speak English."

Migrants from different countries pass the test at different rates
Migrants from different countries passed the test in 2014-15 at different rates, and English-speaking backgrounds are an advantage. Source: SBS / , DIBP

None of the 2319 Kiwis who sat the test in 2014-15 failed.



3 min read
Published 20 April 2017 at 12:08pm
By Jackson Gothe-Snape
Source: SBS