Life in the United Kingdom test

Life in the United Kingdom test

The Life in the United Kingdom test is a computer-based test for individuals seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or naturalisation as a British citizen.

Purpose of the test

A pass in the test fulfils the requirements for "sufficient knowledge of life in the United Kingdom" which were introduced for naturalisation on 1 November 2005 cite news | url = | title = New UK citizenship testing starts | publisher = BBC News | date = 1 November 2005] and which were introduced for settlement on 2 April 2007 cite news | url = | title = Introduction of new rules for people applying for settlement | publisher = Immigration and Nationality Directorate | date = 4 December 2006] . It simultaneously fulfils the language requirement by demonstrating "a sufficient knowledge" of the English language.

Legally, sufficient knowledge of Welsh and Scottish Gaelic can also be used to fulfil the language requirement. Home Office guidance states that if anyone wishes to take the test in these languages (for instance Gaelic‐speaking Canadians or Welsh‐speaking Argentinians) arrangements will be made for them to do so.

An alternative method of satisfying the language and life in the UK requirements is to complete a course of "language-with-civic-content" based on a set of published materials. These courses are often referred to as "ESOL with Citizenship" and lead to a nationally-accredited ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) certificate. It is the certificate which fulfils the requirement for sufficient language and knowledge of life in the UK.

The concept was recommended in 2003 by the "Life in the UK" advisory group, chaired by Sir Bernard Crick, and was endorsed by the then United Kingdom Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Content of the test

The test lasts for 45 minutes during which time the entrants have to answer 24 multiple choice questions.

From November 2005 to March 2007, the questions for the test were based on chapters 2 to 4 of the book "Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship". However from 2 April 2007 a new version of the test is based on chapters 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 of a revised handbook, published on 27 March 2007. The additional chapters cover knowledge and understanding of employment matters and everyday needs such as housing, money, health and education. The testable materials within the revised second edition handbook total 21,400 words, which is nearly 10,000 words longer than the original materials.

The official test website includes a section describing "What you need to know" for each chapter, but the questions are not in the multiple choice format of the real test.

At the time of the initial introduction the materials were primarily about England, but the second edition of the handbook contains more detail about aspects of life in the United Kingdom which differ in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Applicants taking the test receive a version tailored to where they live; for example, candidates in Scotland will be asked about the Scottish parliament, but not about the Welsh Assembly.

peculation about the test

Discussion about the test on or before its launch produced a lot of speculation about possible questions in the British media. Most of these were not based on factual information about what the test required, and in particular a semi-serious BBC-devised test [cite news | url = | title = Can you pass a citizenship test? | publisher = The BBC | date = 31 October 2004] was often quoted as being the real thing.

Another report in the Guardian suggested questions such as: [cite news | url =,3604,1035146,00.html | title = Being a good Brit: a user's guide | publisher = The Guardian | date = 4 September 2003 | first = Alan | last = Travis]

*Who is the prime minister?
** As of July, 2007, the answer is 'The Right Honourable James Gordon Brown, member of Parliament'
*How do you pay a phone bill?
** In the UK, you pay your landline phone bill by either direct debit or filling the slip at the bottom with the payment at a post office (through Girobank) or bank.
*What does it mean to be a good neighbour?
*How did the United Kingdom come about?
** Through the Acts of Union in 1707 (to form the Kingdom of Great Britain) and in 1800 (to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland).
*When was Britain last invaded?
**1066, although, there was a failed invasion in 1797 in Fishguard by French forces. It is also possible to consider as an invasion the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 which saw William of Orange sail through the channel in a fleet larger than the Spanish Armada, and then march on London with an army of around 20,000.

Test Errors and Inaccuracies

There were many critics of the first edition study materials for the test. Some of the claims in the handbook were factually incorrect [cite news | url =,,1764292,00.html | title = Citizenship guide fails its history exam | publisher = The Guardian | date = 29 April 2006] A revised handbook was published in April 2007 which corrected all of the following inaccuracies:

* Claim: Describing the fighter pilots in the Second World War, Winston Churchill said: "Never in the course of human conflict have so many owed so much to so few."
** Fact: He actually said: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
* Claim: Queen Mary "came to the throne with Spanish support".
** Fact: Mary defeated Lady Jane Grey's bid to usurp the throne with a huge wave of English support
* Claim: Great Britain includes Northern Ireland
** Fact: The United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland. Great Britain is made up of England, Wales and Scotland.
* Claim: Charles II was recalled from exile in France
** Fact: He was recalled from Holland
* Claim: The European Union was founded by five members Belgium, France, West Germany, Luxembourg and Netherlands
** Fact: There were six founding members. Italy is missing as a founding member state of the European Union (then known as the European Economic Community).

The current edition still contains inaccuracies, however:

*Claim: The law states that children between the ages of 5 and 16 must attend school.
**Fact: Children between the ages of 5 and 16 must be educated. This education may be provided at school "or otherwise" (for example, home education or private tutoring). Many questions state or suggest that school attendance is compulsory, which is untrue.
*Claim: Births must be registered with 6 weeks (42 Days)
**Fact: Births in England and Wales must be registered within 6 weeks. In Scotland this figure is 21 Days.

ee also

*British nationality law
*Immigration to the United Kingdom

Further reading

* - Now out of print


External links

* [ Life in the UK test Official Site]
* [ Changes with effect from 1 November 2005 - the need to demonstrate knowledge of life in the United Kingdom as well as language ability]
* [ Introduction of new rules for people applying for settlement]

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