UK citizenship test 'to cover Britain's greats'

A UK passport A modified exam for all those wishing to become a British citizen will come into force in March

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A new version of the test taken by foreign nationals who wish to become UK citizens "focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British", the Home Office has said.

The revised Life in the UK test covers topics as sport, music and history.

"Mundane" subjects such as water meters, job interviews and the internet have been stripped out, ministers said.

The Migrants' Rights Network said the test was "like an entry examination for an elite public school".

The new handbook, on sale from Monday, will form the basis of the modified 45-minute exam being introduced in March, which all those wishing to attain British citizenship must pass.

'Encourages participation'

The overhaul of the test is aimed at focusing less on the practicalities of daily living in Britain and more on the nation's culture and past.

Ten example questions offered by the Home Office include "which landmark is a prehistoric monument which still stands in the English county of Wiltshire?" and "what is the name of the admiral who died in a sea battle in 1805 and has a monument in Trafalgar Square, London?"

The Home Office said the test and handbook had been "completely re-written, removing questions on topics that those living in the UK should already be aware of like public transport, credit cards and job interviews".

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: "We've stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet.

"The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life."

He added: "This is just part of our work to help ensure migrants are ready and able to integrate into British society and forms part of our changes which have broken the automatic link between temporary and permanent migration.

Start Quote

It is very difficult to think that this is a positive move”

End Quote Don Flynn Migrants' Rights Network

"We have made radical changes to the immigration system and are determined to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands into the tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament."

'Absolutely right'

But Don Flynn, director of the Migrants' Rights Network, which campaigns in support of migrants in the UK, said: "This looks to us like a big step backwards from the concerns with integration which the government is supposed to have in this area.

"Naturalisation procedures have already been sharply criticised for coming up with tests which have very little to do with the things that most British people feel are important about their lives.

"Now the Home Office has come up with something that looks more like an entry examination for an elite public school. It is very difficult to think that this is a positive move."

However, Alp Mehmet, of the MigrationWatchUK think tank which is concerned about the scale of immigration into the UK, said the "underlying principle and thought process" behind the citizenship test was "absolutely right".

"People who want to come to live in this country should know a little about the country they're joining," he said.

More than 150,000 Life in the UK tests were taken nationally last year, with 77,000 of those in London.

Labour's Chris Bryant said the home secretary was "missing the point".

"Having a citizenship test that teaches people about life in the UK is important, but Theresa May has many other issues in her department that are far more important to focus on," the shadow immigration minister said.

"Rather than coming up with gimmicks, Theresa May should be spending her time sorting out the chaos at [the UK Border Agency] or finally finding a director general for UK Border Force. She should be focusing on fixing the big problems in her department not wasting time on rewriting the citizenship test."


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  • Comment number 798.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    I think they should forget about these tests and go back to interview's. More personal and they would get a better grasp of the people who are applying for a british passport. Most countries do both, but the uk only have one. take a test + read a 84 page book = pass

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    Speaking as a 77 yr old retired teacher with a BAHons in Sociology and GCE A level in History Grade A, I barely passed this test.

    99% of British citizens would fail. I hope they won't get evicted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    Took the test and passed, because im British.
    A more appropriate test would be this !

    On arriving in the UK which benefits can you claim ?
    A. housing benefit
    B. job seekers allowance
    C. entitlement to the NHS

    Which country in Europe gives immigrants immediate status
    A. Germany
    B. France
    C. UK

    What country is so PC they have become a laughing stock ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    Before you jump into conclusion that immigration are benefits scroungers and anyone can get citizenship, go to UKBA website and look for qualifying criteria for visas & citizenship. While you are there, also look for restrictions applied to foreign nationals coming to work here in the UK. The truth is skilled workers like me pay the same tax and NI like everyone without access to state benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    I'm a US citizen. I do not have an associates degree or a bachelors degree. I've never been to the United Kingdom. I answered all of these questions correctly on my first try. I live in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. IMHO this test is extremely easy and most people can do it with minimal studying. Yes I know the US has a deplorable immigration problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    Having witnessed the sheer ineptitude of contestants on prime-time TV quizzes such as the BBC's lottery shows (my all-time favourite being the contestant who had to decide if a long-bow, mace or musket was a medieval weapon and reasoned that it "can't be mace cos you spray people with that"!), I wonder how many British nationals would pass the test.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    More appropriate questions should be::
    - what does it mean if their curtains are drawn (answer: they are scroungers on benefits)
    - can you name 10 members of the Bullingdon Club in the Govt?
    - who said phone-hacking was "codswallop"?
    - what condition does IDS stand for?
    - who described this Govt as a Dog of a coalition?

    The world according to this out of touch xenophobic Millionaires Tory Govt

  • Comment number 790.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    Truth is you can't quantify what it is to be British. You either feel it or you don't.

    Ask 50 born and bred Brits what it is to be British and you'll get 50 different answers - so its not something you can test.

    And if you have an accent or a different skin colour you'll always be seen by many as an "outsider" no matter how many bits of paper you have saying you're British.

    To be continued...

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    Are we sure it should be about "British Citizenship".

    As far as I can tell we are all now European Citizens by right and any immigrants duly tested for EU Citizenship.

    Or does the tests also apply to French German or other EU Citizen wishing to become a Citizen?

    Yes it does seem a bit complicated due to the fact we are both in and out of the EU at the same time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Every sane person knows why Britain is the number one choice for immigrants,Benefits{you can claim as much as you want,even though you have not contributed}and our soft legal system{we will not deport you, even if you are a terrorist or have killed someone in this country in case it abuses your human rights!}

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Simple really. Check out that bottle of Famous Gripe in your cabinet. To the host it's half empty, but to the guest it's half full. Which means our "guests" are here to stay, at least until it's empty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    Surely more topical questions like, would be more appropriate:
    - can you define a Pleb; (answer non-Tory voter)
    - how can you tell if someone in the UK is poor (answer: look at their waist line)
    - how can you tell someone has won a sizeable lottery win (answer : they live in a Council home)
    - how can you tell if someone is a striver (answer: he is a Tory millionaire)

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    771. angry_of_garston

    ' ... more on our culture which is rapidly disappearing.'

    Evidence for that is ...?

    780. skellmufc

    'Drop the portcullis and pull up the drawerbridge and paint on the white cliffs of Dover...

    Goodness me, does that mean people who come here to buy our goods? That'll do wonders for exports and the balance of payments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    Maybe the test should be for them to go back to their home country and see how they behave. If they get drunk, urinate against a statue of cultural significance and shout at the local’s in English and then complain that nobody understands them, they should be welcomed as a true Brit.

  • Comment number 782.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    This is nothing but just another hinderance to stop immigrants from becoming british citizens.

    Better option would have been that to become a citizen one should have contributed an x amount of taxes to the HM Revenue for all working age immigrants excluding their dependents.


  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    Drop the portcullis and pull up the drawerbridge and paint on the white cliffs of Dover...

  • Comment number 779.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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