Stonehenge or Hadrian’s Wall? …Could you pass the New Life in the UK Test?

In July last year we posted about planned changes to the Life in the UK Test which non-EEA nationals must pass in order to qualify for settlement.  Back then, the Government announced; ‘putting our culture and history at the heart of the citizenship test will help ensure those permanently settling can understand British life allowing them to properly integrate into our society.’

The long-awaited changes have finally been made and an updated Life in the UK test handbook was made available to buy from the 28th January 2013.

In this blog we will look at the content of the new test and ask our readers to consider whether they feel it is fair and an accurate assessment of someone’s knowledge of British culture and society.

The new test – brush up your Shakespeare

Although the updated test handbook has already been introduced, the new Life in the UK test itself will not be brought into force until the 25th March 2013, which will give candidates some time to prepare. The new test will follow the same format, meaning that candidates will have to score 75%, or, 18 correct answers out of 24 questions.  However, unlike the current version of the test which only has questions on selected chapters, the new test will include questions taken from all sections of the updated handbook.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper is quoted by the BBC as stating: “We’ve stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet.

‘The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British.  Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life.”

But is this really the case?  Surely knowledge of the practicalities of UK life is vital to the successful integration of any non-EEA national?

The new handbook shows that applicants will be expected to know about the following topics, among others:

  • British history stretching back to the Stone Age, including the Romans, Norman Conquest and the Magna Carta;
  • British cultural and artistic heritage from the music of composer Henry Purcell to the Beatles and Andrew Lloyd Webber;
  • Literary figures such as Geoffrey Chaucer, Jane Austen, Wilfred Owen and William Shakespeare;
  • Notable figures from industry, the sciences and politics including Isaac Newton, Richard Arkwright, Christopher Wren and Winston Churchill;
  • British comedians and satirical figures, including The Two Ronnies and Monty Python;
  • Knowledge of garden design, architecture and medieval stained glass will also be required.

If you care to test your knowledge, a mock test can be taken here.

We are concerned that the facts which migrants are expected to learn in order to pass the Test, are facts which many UK nationals might not themselves remember easily.  It seems rather discriminatory to expect migrants to have a better knowledge of British history and society than UK nationals themselves.

In addition, the value of the Life in the UK Test itself can be called into scrutiny, because many candidates will ensure that they learn the necessary facts required in order to pass the test, but they may not understand their significance if learning by rote.  These facts might then be forgotten once the test has been passed and therefore the time spent in learning them is of no practical benefit to the migrant.

We would be keen to hear from our readers what you think of the Life in the UK Test?  Is it an important part of assessing a migrant’s eligibility for settlement or does it lack any real value? 

Please leave your views below or contact us for more information.

Contact Newland Chase