Civic Literacy Curriculum Abridged Study Guides

The Civic Literacy Curriculum is a free online resource designated for high school students and teachers preparing to be more engaged in our civic society.

The Abridged Study Guide is a short, essential how-to guide to passing the United States Customs and Immigration Services' Naturalization Test, but it elaborates on the underlying logic and serves as a basic summary of the American constitutional order and political history. It is approximately 60 pages total, divided, like the citizenship test, into seven sections:

  • Principles of the American Republic
  • Systems of Government
  • Rights and Responsibilities 
  • Colonial Period and Independence
  • The 1800s 
  • Recent American History 
  • Geography, Symbols, and Holidays

Each section consists of a brief study guide, informational videos, flashcards and a section quiz. The sections are intended for students to work at their own pace. When they complete the section quiz, they can move on to the next section. The curriculum culminates in a 100-question quiz that pulls from each of the seven sections.

These study guides are abridged from the full Civic Literacy Curriculum and were similarly created by the faculty at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. If you're interested in learning more on how to utilize the Civic Literacy Curriculum in your classroom, contact us here.

The Curriculum Sections

Section 1: Principles of the American Republic

Dive into the basic principles and founding ideals of the American political system created by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These include a market economy and the rule of law itself.

Section 1 Study Guide

Section 2: Systems of Government

Study the core institutions built by the United States Constitution. This includes the structure, logic, and purposes of the different parts of the federal government, as well as the division of power between the states and federal government.

Section 2 Study Guide

Section 3: Principles of the American Republic

This section focuses on the rights and responsibilities of Americans, including the protections of the Bill of Rights, voting, serving on a jury, and paying taxes.

Section 3 Study Guide

Section 4: Colonial Period and Independence

You will cover the early parts of American history, including the colonial experience (of European settlers, African slaves, and indigenous peoples), the American Revolution, and the creation of the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

Section 4 Study Guide

Section 5: The 1800s

Section 5 focuses on 19th century American history, which included both the growth of the nation’s geographic size as well as the scope of those who were able to participate in the American political project. At the center was the Civil War, when Americans confronted deep tensions in their political system over the issue of slavery.

Section 5 Study Guide

Section 6: Recent History

America during 20th and early 21st century was faced with many challenges, both abroad and close to home. The United States led the free world in defeating totalitarian forces, especially communism and Nazism, which each sought to dominate the individual and define his or her worth by membership in a collective. That was not the only struggle for freedom: closer to home, reformers worked to make America true to the language of the Declaration of Independence in assuring its guarantee of liberty to all Americans. 

Section 6 Study Guide

Section 7: Geography, Symbols, and Holidays

Examine the symbols and celebrations of the American political community, as well as the geography that helps shape it.

Section 7 Study Guide

Explore the curriculum


Review all of the flashcards from the Civic Literacy Curriculum section by section.

Go to flashcards


View more than 300 Civic Literacy Curriculum videos.

View the videos.

Ready for the test?

If you're ready to try the Civic Literacy Test, you can start it here. The test consists of 100 questions from the seven sections included in the Civic Literacy Curriculum. It is also modeled from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Test. 

Take the test