The 3rd Edition of the Life in the UK booklet became available on 27 Jan 2013; the new Life in the UK Test will be introduced from 25 March 2013. This is the test that those seeking settled status in the UK and/or British citizenship must pass.
This will be the first revision since 2007. The new test represents a change of focus and a move away from what were in many instances "questions for visitors" on topics such as public transport, credit cards, water meters and how to locate a train timetable. Instead it concentrates on the deeper aspects of British life and those features that shape British society and have made it what it is.
There are sections on the history of Britain, from pre-Roman times to the present, highlighting seminal events such as the Black Death, the Civil War, the development of constitutional monarchy, the abolition of slavery, the world wars and the creation of the welfare state and the subsequent years. The section includes separate vignettes on key movers and shakers from all works of life, ranging from Shakespeare to Clement Attlee, amongst others. The UK today section includes sections on the geography of the UK, as well as religious customs, sport, culture and places of interest, complete with stanzas from well-known poems and brought right up to date with notes on the latest Olympians. Finally, there is the section on UK government, the law and your part in it. This includes sections on UK and international institutions, as well as a strong emphasis on respecting and upholding the law and contributing to the community. All this for £12.99.
The new test has been much sneered at in some quarters for forcing schoolbook British history on would-be settlers, but this is a trite criticism. Would-be settlers are being invited to join the tribe, and therefore they need to understand its soul. The booklet is seeking to ensure that migrants buy in to what the UK represents and therefore its values and traditions, as well as understanding why and how they came to be. As an aim this seems perfectly fair, however there remains a question mark over whether the bar has been set at a reasonable level, or whether we are asking more of would-be settlers than we expect from much of the rest of the population. The proof will be in the pudding.
As Robert Browning wrote, "Oh to be in England, now that April's here!" If you are planning to sit the test from 25 March 2013, make sure that you're reading the 3rd Edition in preparation for your test and brush up on your Browning.