Citizenship test pass rates plummet

Ethnic Council Manager Sam AtukoralaAUSTRALIAN citizenship test pass rates plunged 65 per cent between June 2022 and August 2023, with over 100,000 individuals failing amid heightened post-pandemic migration. This marks a drop from the 80 per cent pass rate seen from 2017 to 2021.

The test, featuring 20 multiple-choice questions on democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech, requires candidates to correctly answer five questions on Australian values for a minimum 75 per cent mark.

During this period, 288,603 tests were taken, but only 187,574 passed. The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but significant changes introduced by the Morrison government in 2020, including a dedicated section on Australian values, may play a role.

While the advantages of citizenship, such as unrestricted residency, are evident, concerns arise over the increasing number of test failures. Sam Atukorala, the Ethnic Council’s general manager, attributes language barriers as a major difficulty, particularly for refugees and asylum seekers.

“For those who have not gone to school and who are illiterate in their native language, there is a lot of information in the test that is hard to digest,” Mr Atukorala said.

Andrew Murley, a project officer at the Ethnic Council, has noticed a decline in successful applicants and an increase in learning difficulties since the 2020 changes. He emphasised the test’s heightened difficulty due to the introduction of a booklet, requiring reading and writing skills for success.

“The booklet has made the test a lot harder. Previously, the Government provided a video, but the booklet means that they must be able to read and write to pass and become citizens.”

Mr Murley said English proficiency poses a significant challenge, even for native speakers.

The data release coincides with Australia Day, but 81 councils, including Greater Shepparton, won’t conduct citizenship ceremonies on January 26, following a 2022 rule revocation by the Albanese government.

For inquiries about citizenship test lessons and advice, you can contact 5831 2395 or email


Ethnic Council Manager Sam Atukorala

TEST DIFFICULTY… The Adviser caught up with Ethnic Council of Shepparton general manager, Sam Atukorala (pictured) and regional project manager Andrew Murley, amid new data showing citizenship test pass rates falling to 65 per cent. Photo: Shepparton Adviser

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