I’m excited to announce that I passed the Life in the UK test yesterday! This test is a prerequisite for anyone wishing to settle in the UK and is the first step in my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Before I took the test there were a lot of things I was unsure of, including how best to prepare and what happens on the day of the test. I decided to write this post to share my experience in the hope that it would be useful to others in the same situation.
What is the Life in the UK test?
The Life in the UK test is a computer-based test which anyone seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or naturalisation as a British citizen needs to pass. The test consists of 24 multiple-choice questions covering British traditions and customs, and is meant to prove the applicant has sufficient knowledge of British life. The test lasts for 45 minutes and applicants need to score at least 75% to pass the test (at least 18 out of 24 correct answers). At the time of writing it costs £50 to take the test.
When can you take the Life in the UK test?
The pass certificate does not have an expiry date so you can take the test as soon as you feel ready to do so. I recommend taking the test at least a few weeks before you plan to submit your ILR or naturalisation application. If you fail the test you have to wait at least 7 days before you can book another test so it’s best to allow plenty of time.
How I prepared for the Life in the UK test
I definitely recommending purchasing both the book and the app. The questions in the app are not the offical exam questions, so you definitely need to read the book as you may get questions in the actual test that are not covered in the app (this happened to me!).
During the time I’ve lived in the UK I’ve visited loads of historic sites. I never planned it this way but it turned out that visiting these sites taught me a lot about UK history that I found helpful when studying for the test.
- I’ve been to Stonehenge twice, and learned about the early history of Britain.
- Three years ago I visited the Battle of Hastings battlefield, where I learned all about the Norman conquest.
- You can learn more about William the Conqueror at the Tower of London, and you can see the Crown Jewels. The Tower of London is mentioned a few times in the app practice questions so I highly recommend a visit.
- I learned a lot about King Edward I during my visit to Caernarfon Castle in Wales.
- At Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight there was a museum dedicated to King Charles I.
- The secret wartime tunners at Dover Castle are a great place to learn about the rescue operation and evacuation of soldiers from Dunkirk (I also recommend the film Dunkirk for this).
I’ve also learned a lot from watching historically accurate TV shows. Through watching ITV’s Victoria I learned more about the Chartists movement, the Industrial Revolution and the makeup of parliament during the Victorian era.
I personally find it a lot easier to remember things from film or television, and from places I’ve visited, than from a rather dry book! A lot of the castles I’ve been to in the UK often have historic reenactments so the whole experience is much more immersive. I highly recommend picking up an English Heritage membership and trying to visit some of the significant historic sites in person.
Booking the Life in the UK test
The test can be booked through the gov.uk website. You’ll need to create an account, fill out your details and choose which test centre you would like to take the test at. There are over 30 test centres in the UK and you have to choose one of the 5 closest to where you live.
Take care to enter all your details correctly. At the test centre they will check your ID and compare it to the details you have filled in online. If anything doesn’t match up you may not be able to take the test. You will lose your payment and have to book a new test.
Once you have chosen your preferred test centre, date and time, you’ll be prompted to pay the £50 fee. After booking you’ll receive an email confirming the time and location of your test, and everything you need to bring with you.
If you need to change any details or reschedule the test you can do so by logging into your account. You can reschedule or cancel your test up to three days before the test date without charge.
What to expect at the test centre
My test was booked for 4:30pm at the Stratford test centre. The email confirmation said to arrive 15 minutes before the test, but I allowed even more time just in case I had any trouble finding the test centre. After locating the building I had to sign in as a guest at the ground floor reception before heading up to the test centre on the 4th floor.
I was greeted by a member of staff when I arrived at the test centre office, and she asked me to take a seat in a small waiting room. There were a few people waiting ahead of me, and after a few minutes I asked to go to into the next room to sign in.
I handed over my ID (Biometric Residence Permit) and proof of address (UK drivers’ licence), and I was asked to confirm my name, date of birth, birthplace and nationality. These were all checked against the details I provided when I booked the test. Once I was checked in I was assigned a locker to place all my belongings, except for my ID which I needed to take into the test room with me.
After placing my bag in the locker, the staff member checked to make sure I didn’t have anything in my pockets, and that I wasn’t wearing an earpiece. I was then directed to the test room.
Inside the test room, the supervisor checked my ID and signed me in on a computer. There were some instructions to read through and then you are given 4 practice questions so you can get used to the software. After finishing the practice questions it was straight into the actual test.
Once I finished the test I returned to the waiting room until I was called to get my results. There were only two people waiting in front of me so after a few minutes I was called up and told that I’d passed! They printed off my pass certificate and asked me to sign it. They then stamped it and told me that this is the only copy of the letter I will get, and to look after it as you cannot get a replacement.
The email confirmation I received after booking the test advised that you could spent up to two hours at the test centre, but I was in and out in under 30 minutes.
I’m looking to submit my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain next month and I plan to write another post detailing that process once it’s all done. If you have any questions about the Life in the UK test, pop them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.