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The Life in the United Kingdom test is a computer-based test constituting one of the requirements for anyone seeking
Indefinite Leave to Remain Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residency (PR) is an immigration status granted to a person who does not hold the right of abode The right of abode is an individual's freedom from immigration control in a particular country. A ...
in the UK or
naturalisation Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen of a country may acquire citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is ...
as a
British citizen British nationality law details the conditions in which a person holds United Kingdom nationality. There are six different classes of British nationality, each with varying degrees of civil and political rights, due to the UK's historical statu ...
. It is meant to prove that the applicant has a sufficient knowledge of British life and sufficient proficiency in the English language. The test is a requirement under the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 (c. 41) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Orga ...
. It consists of 24 questions covering topics such as British values, history, traditions and everyday life. The test has been frequently criticised for containing factual errors, expecting candidates to know information that would not be expected of native-born citizens as well as being just a "bad
pub quiz A pub quiz is a quiz A quiz is a form of game or mind sport in which players attempt to answer questions correctly about a certain or variety of subjects. Quizzes can be used as a brief assessment in education and similar fields to measure ...
" and "unfit for purpose".


Purpose

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 and which were introduced for settlement on 2 April 2007. It simultaneously fulfils the language requirement by demonstrating "a sufficient knowledge" of the
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), g ...

English language
. Legally, sufficient knowledge of
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
or
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups o ...
can also be used to fulfil the language requirement.
Home Office The Home Office (HO), also known (especially in official papers and when referred to in Parliament) as the Home Department, is a ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govren ...

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. In practice, very few, if any, take the test in a language other than English. Initially, attending the "ESOL with Citizenship" course was an alternative to passing the Life in the UK Test, but now applicants are required to meet the knowledge of English and pass the test to fulfil the requirements. Meeting the knowledge of English can be satisfied by having an English qualification at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level, or by completing a degree which is taught or researched in English. Plans to introduce such a test were announced in September 2002 by the then
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for all Home Office business. The ...
,
David Blunkett David Blunkett, Baron Blunkett, (born 6 June 1947) is a British politician, now in the House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern I ...
. He appointed a "Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group," chaired by Sir Bernard Crick, to formulate the test's content. In 2003, the Group produced a report, "The New and the Old," with recommendations for the design and administration of the test. There was dissent among the committee members on certain issues, and many of the recommendations were not adopted by the Government. In 2005, plans to require foreign-born religious ministers to take the test earlier than other immigrants were abandoned by the then Immigration Minister,
Tony McNulty Anthony James McNulty (born 3 November 1958) is a British politician who was the Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves ...
.


Content

The test lasts for 45 minutes, during which time the candidate is required to answer 24 multiple-choice questions. To pass the test, the candidate must receive a grade of 75% or higher, i.e. at least 18 correct answers to the 24 questions. Testing is not directly administered by
UK Visas and Immigration UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is a division of the Home Office responsible for the United Kingdom's Visa (document), visa system. It was formed in 2013 from the section of the UK Border Agency that had administered the visa system. History The ...
(which replaced the UK Border Agency in 2013), but is carried out by
learndirect Learndirect Ltd, stylised as learndirect, is a British training provider founded in 2000, owned by the private equity firm Lloyds Development Capital (LDC). The company has a network of learning centres in England and Wales, and also runs some ...
, a private company. As of 20 July 2021 the cost of the test is £50. 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''. The handbook was revised in March 2007 and the test was changed to be based on chapters 2 to 6 of it. The additional chapters covered knowledge and understanding of employment matters and everyday needs such as housing, money, health and education. The third edition of the handbook, ''Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents'', was released in 2013 and prompted another change in the test format. The test covered the chapters "The Values and principles of the UK", "What is the UK?", "A long and illustrious history", "A modern, thriving society" and "The UK government, the law and your role". At the time of the test's introduction the materials were primarily about
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
, but the second edition of the handbook contained more detail about aspects of life in the United Kingdom which differ in
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
,
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
and
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

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 The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
, but not about the
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...
.


Pass rate

Of the 906,464 tests taken between 2005 and 2009, 263,641 were failed (a pass rate of 70.9%). The results of candidates from countries with a strong tradition of immigration to the UK were variable. The pass rates for people from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States were all above 95%. In contrast, the pass rates for people from Iraq, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Turkey were below 50%. The largest single country of origin was India, with just over 100,000 tests taken and 79,229 passed (79.2%). Furthermore, data available from the 2nd quarter of 2010 to the 3rd quarter of 2014 indicates that of the 748,613 Life in the UK tests taken during this period 185,863 were failed, which means a pass rate of 75.17%. These results initially look comparable to those from previous years. However, the percentage pass rates for the previous version of the test had been rising steadily until the introduction of the new version of the test in March 2013. With the introduction of testing on the new study material from March 2013 pass rates fell to an average of 70%. Analysis of pass rates available for the first 11 months of the new test (from April 2013 to February 2014) show significant variances in pass rate by nationality of origin of those taking the test. For example: Laos 33%, Afghanistan 40%, Syria 67%, Nigeria 69%, India 74%, Canada 95%. The pass rate for those EU citizens taking the test in this period averaged 86% (Austria 71%, Belgium 75%, Bulgaria 84%, Croatia 92%, Cyprus 83%, Czech Republic 93%, Denmark 95%, Estonia 87%, Finland 86%, France 87%, Germany 91%, Greece 91%, Hungary 90%, Ireland 95%, Italy 92%, Latvia 80%, Lithuania 81%, Luxembourg 100%, Malta 100%, Netherlands 81%, Poland 87%, Portugal 80%, Romania 79%, Slovakia 88%, Slovenia 100%, Spain 89%, Sweden 86%). Upon completion of the test, candidates are not informed of their exact mark. Successful candidates are informed that they have passed and will be given a Pass Notification Letter that they will have to sign, while unsuccessful candidates learn the topics that they should study further. The test may be taken an unlimited number of times until a candidate achieves a pass. Since its inception, there have been numerous instances of fraud and cheating on the test.


Criticism

Prior to its launch, the test produced considerable speculation in the British media about possible questions. Upon its publication, the associated handbook was widely criticised. Particular criticism was reserved for the section on the UK's history, which was described by the ''Guardian'' as a "turgid, abysmal piece of writing," filled with "factual errors, sweeping generalisations gross misrepresentations." The UK Border Agency acknowledged that the first edition of the handbook "did not fulfil role particularly well." In 2008, Lord Goldsmith stated in a report on citizenship that the test "is not seen typically as a stimulus for learning, though that was one of its stated aims." In 2011, the government announced its intention to include questions on the UK's history and remove questions on the EU from the test. In 2012, the ''
New Statesman The ''New Statesman'' is a British political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations bet ...
'' described the test as mocking Britishness since there was no general agreement amongst the population on what was or was not relevant to culture and history. Every member of the ''New Statesman'' editorial team failed the test which was described as irrelevant in determining who will be a good citizen. In 2013,
Thom Brooks Thomas "Thom" Brooks, (born 14 October 1973) is an American-British political philosopher Political philosophy is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason ...
launched a comprehensive report 'The Life in the United Kingdom Citizenship Test: Is It Unfit for Purpose?' that revealed serious problems with the current test concerning its being impractical, inconsistent, containing too much trivia and for its gender imbalance.


Minority languages

The lack of provision for citizenship services in the
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
has been met with criticism from the ''Committee of Experts'' of the
European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a European treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public international law ...
, of which the UK has ratified for the
Cornish language Cornish (Standard Written Form: or ) is a Southwestern Brittonic language, Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language family. It is a List of revived languages, revived language, having become extinct as a living community langua ...
, the
Irish language Irish ( in Standard Irish Standard may refer to: Symbols * Colours, standards and guidons, kinds of military signs * Heraldic flag, Standard (emblem), a type of a large symbol or emblem used for identification Norms, conventions or requ ...
, Manx Gaelic, the Lallans dialect, Scots & Ulster Scots dialects, Scottish Gaelic and the Welsh language. In a 2014 report detailing the application of the charter in the UK, the Committee stated that they were given no justification for the inequality in the treatment of Irish speakers in contrast to that of English, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh speakers, and that efforts to rectify the inequality were non-existent.


See also

* British nationality law * Immigration to the United Kingdom


References


Further reading

*  – now out of print * *


External links

*
Official practice test

Life in the United Kingdom official publications
at The Stationery Office Limited {{Authority control Immigration to the United Kingdom Citizenship tests