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Life in the UK Test - a step in my journey to British citizenship!

Shortly after lockdown kicked in, many academics went on to share on Twitter their lockdown projects. After resolving that baking cakes could not be my sole pass-time while spending weekends in, I decided to dedicate some time to preparing for the Life in the UK Test. This followed my application for Settle Status, which I gained over a year ago when the scheme was opened.

What is the Life in the UK Test?

Many people, particularly those who are British from birth, may not have heard of this test before. Briefly, it is a 24-question test to prove your knowledge of life in the United Kingdom.

Once you have passed it, and you have got Settle Status/Permanent Residence and either an English language qualification or a UK degree, you can then apply for British citizenship by naturalisation.

Common topics that are tested during the exam include British history, values and principles of the UK, the UK government, etc. Luckily, there is a nice little book of approximately 160 pages that one can read, which covers all the possible question topics that might come up during the test.

What questions did I get asked at the test?

  • The forums and blogs that I read about this test said that one is bound to get a question on King Henry VIII. So, I learned everything about his life, the names and order of his six wives and where they came from, how each marriage (sometimes tragically) ended, who their children were. And I did, indeed, get a question about Henry VIII, probably the easiest of the lot I found in the flash cards, which asked: why did he break away from the Roman Church? In order to divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

  • Another topic that apparently always comes up during the test is how the right to vote changed over history. The question I got was: When did women gain the right to vote at the age of 21, same as men? In 1928.

  • Who were the Huguenots? A group of Protestants who fled France in the 17th century and moved to other countries including the UK.

  • Where did Charles II hide while escaping the country after defeat from Cromwell's army at the Battle of Worcester in 1651? In an oak tree. Apparently this is where the common pub name 'Royal Oak' comes from, as my boyfriend's dad told me afterwards.

  • Who was the first person to run 1 mile under 4 minutes? Sir Roger Bannister.

  • Which court deals with minor criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? Magistrates' court.

  • Who was the Scottish leader who defeated the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314? Robert the Bruce.

  • Who is the Patron Saint of Wales? Saint David.

  • Which Roman Emperor built a wall to keep away the Picts? Hadrian.

  • All other questions I got were common knowledge, and would have required no preparation, e.g. 'what is the capital city of Northern Ireland', 'what is the official residence of the British Prime Minister', and even 'when is Christmas day'.

My tips to pass the test

  1. Read the official book at least a couple of times.

  2. Practice with mock tests from the official app. I'm pretty sure that all 24 questions I got on the day of the test were a slightly rephrased version of the flash cards from the app.

  3. Listen to some history podcasts that might help you remember names and dates of monarchs and battles. I listened to a few selected episodes of the BBC In our Time History Podcast, e.g. the Wars of the Roses, Mary Queen of Scots, Slavery and Empire, Agincourt, the Death of Elizabeth I, the Industrial Revolution. They did help me remember and they also made it more interesting to learn British history.

What next?

Now that I passed the Life in the UK test and I have Settled Status, as well as a degree from a UK University, the next step will be to fill in the online application for citizenship. This will require finding two referees who will have to write support letters; the referees need to have known you for at least three years, they must not be related to you or to each other, one must be British and the other one must be a professional from a selected list of approved professions. Needless to say that, unfortunately, scientist/researcher is not an accepted profession from the list. Those accepted, however, include the following: accountant, police officer, journalist, nurse, solicitor, dentist, civil servant, person with honours (e.g. OBE, MBE), MP, and Christian science practitioner.

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