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How To Pass The UK Citizenship Test
What exactly does the process involve, and how can you maximise your chances of success?
Who Is Eligible?
The government’s website points out that you might be able to apply for citizenship via the naturalisation process if you moved here on a visa, or if you are from a European Economic Area (EEA) country. However, don’t forget that this may be affected by Brexit in the future.
If you are from the EEA and you’ve had permanent residence status for the past 12 months, you can apply for naturalisation.
If you have had indefinite leave to remain over the past 12 months, you can also apply.
You also can apply as a spouse or civil partner if you have lived in the UK for the past three years and have either:
- indefinite leave to remain OR
- a permanent residence document (if you’re from the EEA).
There are other criteria for eligibility, which you can check out here.
What Is The Citizenship Test?
This computer-based test will quiz you on your English language ability and your knowledge of aspects of life in the UK, such as its history, values and traditions. It is a requirement of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act of 2002 and is carried out by a private company – Learndirect – rather than a government agency. Some of its questions will be tailored to where you live. For instance, if you live in Wales, you will be asked questions about the Welsh Assembly, but not about the Scottish Parliament.
The test itself lasts for 45 minutes and you will have to answer 24 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must receive a grade of 75 percent or higher, which means you’ll need at least 18 correct answers. If you manage this, you'll then get a 'pass notification letter' which you must send, along with your citizenship or settlement application, to prove that you have passed. Don’t lose your letter, though – you won’t be able to get a replacement, so make sure you send it by registered post.
The test is based on the Life in Britain handbook, which you can obtain here. There is a practice site for the test here.
It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the test via these practice quizzes. Do some general reading around the history of the UK, and memorise some key dates, such as major holidays, battles and the reigns of kings and queens, as well as the names and achievements of famous Britons. Make sure you’re familiar with the basic geography of the UK, and the status of regions such as Northern Ireland. Study traditional aspects of the different regions and the symbols associated with each one, such as costumes and national flowers. You will also need to be aware of the political structure of the UK. Take a look at the nation’s most famous literary works and sporting events. You might be asked what type of literature the Canterbury Tales are, for instance, or what kind of sport is exemplified by the Grand National.
Some of these questions won’t be all that familiar to native British people, so your preparation will need to be quite broad. Participants say the test can be quite hard as you are asked questions about such a wide range of subjects.
Successful South African applicant Elsabe Smit says:
“I struggled with one question because there were two right answers and I couldn't choose. It slowed me down, but I then gave both answers which turned out to be the right move. I finished in I think six minutes. I know of people who couldn't finish in 45 minutes and had to go back and rewrite several times.”
One a Canadian applicant says:
“Questions range from serious historical stuff such as when did the Welsh uprisings end, to goofy stuff, like is supporting your local football team a necessity for life in the UK.”
What Documents Will I Need To Bring With Me?
The government website says that you will need:
- the same ID that you used to book the test.
- proof of your address with your name and postcode on it. This must be dated within three months of the day of your test, and can be a:
gas, electricity or water bill
council tax bill
letter from the Home Office with your name and address on it
UK photocard driving licence
bank or credit card statement.
Bank statements must be an original statement printed by your bank. If you do not get paper statements, you can ask your bank for one. These statements must be stamped by the bank branch that gave it to you.
How Long Does It Take To Get Citizenship?
Once approved, you’ll get an invitation to attend a Citizenship ceremony, usually local to where you live, where you will receive your Certificate of Naturalisation. Thereafter, you are free to apply for a British passport, which is usually processed within six weeks.
What Happens If I Fail The Test?
You have to wait seven days before you can re-take, but you can take the test as many times as you need to. However, you will have to book and pay again each time.
What Do British People Think Of The Test?
There has been a lot of criticism of the test. It has been compared to a bad pub quiz, and every staff member of the New Statesman failed it. The Guardian newspaper exposed factual errors and even the UK Border Agency admitted that the handbook’s first edition "did not fulfil [its] role particularly well”.
However, a former tutor adds that:
“As a general rule, we found that most British people could not pass the test but most immigrants applying for it could - as they had been coached.”
Are you studying for the citizenship test? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!