A recent Washington Times Web feature presents a sample of questions as being from a US Citizenship test, including "How many justices are on the Supreme Court?"

The answer choices are 7, 8, 9, or 12, and 9 is marked as the correct answer.

If a person were taking the test today, should they answer a question like this with 9 (the number of available positions) or 8 (the number of justices actually on the Supreme Court)?
Are other questions on citizenship tests generally updated to reflect current events?
While this particular question came from a US test, answers about other countries' tests are welcome too.


The questions do not change but the answers to some of the questions definitely do change over time. For example, the answers to the questions about the identities of various officials (e.g. President, Vice President, Chief Justice, Speaker of the House, your Congressman or Senator, governor of your state, etc.) will change whenever a new person takes the office. You are expected to answer each question based on the correct answer at the time you take the test.

I think what you are saying is that the wording of this question is ambiguous. If the test-taker is unsure what is being asked, they can always ask the interviewer what precisely is meant. But I think if a person takes the test today they should answer 8, because that is the answer to the literal question, although maybe some interviewers will also accept 9 (not sure).

  • 1
    Are these tests always done in interview form by a human, as opposed to e.g. a paper test as is done with licensing drivers?
    – WBT
    Dec 5 '16 at 4:06
  • 1
    @WBT: It's asked by a human.
    – user102008
    Dec 5 '16 at 5:10
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    By a human, and if you know the situation, you can always answer accordingly, like 'there are supposed to be 9 judges, but one position is currently open so there are only eight at the moment'. Those people typically have brains...
    – Aganju
    Dec 6 '16 at 21:00

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