Is the Australian Citizenship Test Hard?

Using our user test performance data, which is generated by people training for the Australian Citizenship Test, can objectively answer the question. The TL'DR answer is: Yes, the test is hard, as you will see

Recently, we decided to collect anonymized performance data of our Australian Citizenship Test Preparation App because we had a suspicion:

That suspicion was, that the Australian Citizenship test was difficult. Our hunch was based on what we had seen in our App. It was also informed by the user feedback we had gotten. So naturally, we wanted to test our hypothesis using our real-world data. We are, after all, scientists by training. Looking at our user performance data, it turned out that most of our new users fail the test initially. So yes, the Australian Citizenship Test is difficult for most people. But there's a silver lining as you will see.

Most of our new users fail because they have not yet prepared for it and some questions in the test can trip you up. There are a couple of truly hard questions that are commonly missed and we share some of them with you below.

The Test Performance Data From Our App

Let's go and look at the test performance data in detail to understand why the test is hard and why practicing for it helps our users a great deal.

In total, 1448 citizenship simulation tests were taken by our users since we started the data collection. Of these, 821 received a passing grade. That is 56.7 percent. Yikes, that's quite low! We have visually presented the statistics for you in the widget below. Do you find these numbers surprising? We did when we first saw them.

Total Tests
Tests taken by users
Tests passed by users
In total
Percent passed

By the way, the numbers for tests and questions are dynamically updated every time we record a new qualified user submission. We only record the first submission for each test and each user, not subsequent ones.

Besides test performance, we have also collected the performance data for each individual question in our database. Looking at each questions separately, our users answered 42249 questions in total. Of these, 33605 were answered correctly. Doing the math on the questions level, we can see that 79.5 % of answers were given correctly. We've again visually prepared the numbers for you:

Total Questions
Answered by users
Answers by users
In total
Percent passed

Our data is quite granular. We can look how every single question was answered and sort them by performance percentage and we get a distribution:

Individual question performance graph

Each question has a probability of being answered correctly and some of them seem to be quite hard. And you can see, there are a whole bunch of hard questions, about 100 of them are answered correctly 60% or less and about half of the questions only achieve around 75%. Yikes!

The question data and the test data seem to contradict themselves, because one would assume that the percentages should line up and they do not as we can see clearly. But there's quite a simple explanation for that:

Explaining the Apparent Discrepancy

The obvious discrepancy between test level data (56.7% of tests passed) and question level data (79.5% of questions correct) threw us off in our analysis initially. At first we thought our collection method was wrong. How can this be? But scrutinizing the data, we understand why we observe this discrepancey and we can draw a big lesson from the observation. Understanding the root cause for it helps our users prepare more smartly.

The reason for a better question-level performance is that the Australian Values section of the test requires all answers to be correct. You need five out of five, a single false answer in this section of the test results in failing the entire test even if the other criteria for passing it was met and even if the overall percentage was high. You can have 19 out of 20 questions for 95% correct answers overall and still fail the test if your wrong answer was from Chapter 4, Australian Values.

Therefore, our first conclusion for intelligent preparation for the test is: Focus your test preparation attention mostly on chapter 4, Australian Values because you cannot afford to get a single question wrong here. You need to score 100% right each time, every time. Yes or yes! And out of the box, not many people do that consistently. Which is why more people fail the test than 79.5% correct answers will make you believe on first glance.

Adapting to the Situation - How to Prepare Smart!

So what can you do practically to prepare yourself for Chapter 4 (Australian Values) and not fail it? We highly recommend using the chapter practice tool and doing chapter 4 over and over again until you get all questions right in it. If you do that, the hardest part of the citizenship test preparation is done and the rest is gonna be much easier for you.

It's in the numbers! Since you're gonna need 15 right answers in total to pass your test, and all Australian Values questions need to be right, we can look at the remaining questions and understand that now we only need to have 10 out of 15 correct remaining ones from the 3 other chapters 1, 2 and 3. Yes, that's right! You only need to score 66.7% in the easier chapters on average. That's quite achievable out of the gate for most people.

A typical Example

Let's now have a look at what the typical user's performance looks like. Let's call her Linda and let's point out that Linda is not her actual name of course, Linda might be John for all we know. Or Ahmed. No idea. Anyway, we have selected Linda as a typical example of many from our dataset. Linda's improvement represents a typical journey.

We can see in the image below, that Linda performs quite poorly initially. She passed only one test in her first 5 attempts. But over time she does better, reaching 40% and soon 60% tests passed before falling back down.

Performance Graph for a typical user of our app over time

But then she makes it to 80% and eventually consistently to 100% tests passed at which point she stops practicing. Well done Linda, she surely has passed her "real" test by now.

All Active App Users Improve!

We've got good news for you, if you need to pass your citizenship test and you're using our app. Like Linda in the example above, all of our active users improve over time. We have not seen a single active user remain the same or go backwards in terms of performance which tells you that our app works. Wooo! Yay us! If you're curious, we define active user as somebody who practices for at least 5 days and how does at least 10 tests.

Other people's observation

The results we are presenting here have been independently confirmed and verified in a sense by none other than the Australian government. You see the Australian citizenship test has been in the press recently, because people observed a similar thing to us: That many people fail the government administered test. Both the Australian newspaper The West and the English Daily Mail reported on the matter. They both mention a success rate of only 65 percent and blame (quite rightly so in our opinion), the recent addition of the Australian Values chapter for the slump. We've seen the same culprit in our data as the predominant challenge for our users. It's exceedingly rare that somebody fails with 5/5 in the Australian Values chapter, which is why, again, this should be the focus of a smart preparation.

If you pass Australian Values, it's almost not possible that you fail on the other chapter questions.

Actionable Strategies for You to Make Sure You Pass Your Australian Citizenship Test

One: Prepare

This should go without saying. Prepare for your test, because perpared users are way more likely to pass the test on the first attempt. We're so confident that we give you a money back guarantee: If you prepare doing all tests on our app and all chapter 4 questions, you won't fail, or your money back. We have a detailed article about how to prepare for your test.

Two: Focus Your Practice on Australian Values

(better to lear from other's failures than to fail yourself)

In an industrial production environment, companies tend to optimize for the bottleneck of the operation. That is, if there's one in the production line. The reason for that is that bottlenecks determine the overall output of the factory. Bottlenecks are the rate-limiting step.

The Australian Values chapter is the bottleneck of the Australian Citizenship Test. This chapter is very problematic and the main cause for people to fail. It is very strict, you need 100% for 5 out of 5 questions. Other chapters are much easier.

Because of the way the test grading is done, you only need to answer two thirds of the other chapter questions correctly. That is 66.6%, or 10 out of 15, since you need those 5 Australian Values questions and you need to score 15 questions right overall for 75% of the total, you only need 15 - 5 = 10 correct answers in the other chapters combined. Study and prepare smart!

Three: Prepare daily

It is better to prepare little by little day by day than to do one big push. The phenomenon of small daily improvements being better is well studies in the scientific learning literature and it applies here. We've seen the best improvements in people that show up daily and that do one or two tests at a time but that come back the next day. That's why we had practice reminders on here initially but people didn't like them so we took them away.

That's all there is to it. Beat Chapter 4 to death every single day for two to three weeks and while you're at it practice the other chapters too and Boom. You're an Australian in no time.

You can do this by reading the government book a couple of times or by practicing with our app. For best results, it's probably smart to look at all chapter 4 questions but in the end, that's your call. You can find our practice section here and you can do a test here and see how you do out of the box.

The Hardest Questions

These are the 5 hardest questions on our test app.

Could you answer them?

Do you want to read more?

Explore our blog to learn more about the Australian citizenship test.

Why not try a test
Try it here
To Chapter 4
Practice here