For some foreign nationals seeking to settle in the UK or a grant of British citizenship the Home Office requires them to illustrate knowledge of the UK through either successfully passing the Life in the UK test or by taking combined English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and citizenship classes.
The Life in the UK test is comprised of 24 questions which test the applicant’s knowledge of things of vital, daily importance to the lives of every person living in the UK such as: "how many parliamentary constituencies are there?” or "in which year did married women get the right to divorce their husband?” (the answers are 646 and 1857 respectively).
Given the obscurity of some of the questions asked in the Life in the UK test, it is unsurprising that people have doubted the effectiveness of requiring applicants for settlement and citizenship to pass it, particularly in light of the fact that the majority of British citizens cannot pass the test themselves. A Channel4 survey revealed that 7 in 10 Britons failed a short UK citizenship test, based on the Life in the UK Test. Whilst it may be accepted that the State should seek to ensure that those who want to settle in the UK or to be granted citizenship possess a suitable comprehension of English and awareness of life in the UK, it is debatable whether the Life in the UK test is the most effective method of achieving this. Surely those seeking to settle or become citizens in the UK can simply display an affinity with the British people through other means? For example, by having a preference for driving on the left or a tolerance of English cuisine, rather than an awareness of British trivia.
For the time being the Life in the UK test is here to stay and is a hoop that some applicants for settlement and citizenship will have to continue to jump through. Let’s just hope that the applicants can find some use for their newly acquired knowledge. Trivial pursuit anyone? – You can test your British knowledge here:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/quiz/2011/oct/11/uk-citizenship-test-quiz