An introduction to the British citizenship test

2008 September 26
by Henry

In November 2005, the British government introduced the ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ Test. Its introduction sparked immediate public and media interest as it was labelled a test of “Britishness”. The obvious question raised was, “What is Britishness?”

Of course, the test was never intended to be a test of “Britishness”. Its intention is to assess an applicant’s knowledge of life in the United Kingdom and grasp of English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic). But the knowledge of the country which they have to demonstrate is not general knowledge. It is drawn from a government-issued handbook, which they have to study in detail. To pass they must correctly answer at least 18 out of 24 multiple-choice questions.

All questions are drawn from the handbook. The handbook covers a range of topics on life in this country, in particular, demographics, customs, traditions, government, employment and aspects of everyday life. Although the official questions set by the government are not available for public view and are a closely guarded secret, the questions in this book have been used by hundreds of thousands of people to help them pass the test.

For many people, the test is seen as a pub quiz of random information selected by the government. Some people also argue that many British-born citizens would fail the test. Whatever your view of the test, this website will provide an informative, if not quirky, insight into the route to a new British life that most native Brits would take for granted.

Anyone lucky enough to be born in Britain will never have to worry about taking the citizenship test – but if you did, would you pass it?

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