We are nearing a big milestone in our life in the UK: As of this Saturday, we will have lived here for 5 years! The 5-year mark means that we can now apply for indefinite leave to remain, i.e. settlement or permanent residence. (The ability to settle in the UK depends on a number of factors, and the time to settle varies.)
But this post isn’t just about life in the UK in general. It’s about a specific requirement for UK settlement (and citizenship) called the Life in the UK Test.
The test itself is fairly short and simple: 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about the UK. It sounds easy, but it’s a bit of a pain. The information you need to know can be very specific, including things that I’ve never been particular good at committing to memory (like names and exact dates for historical events). I mean, is it really fair to ask detailed questions about past monarchs when they all seem to have the same three names? 😉
In any case, we decided a few weeks ago to take the test, so we picked up a copy of the handbook and got to reading. I promptly started drawing out a timeline of the historical events, because it was the only way I could keep them straight — especially because the stupid book kept jumping around in time. And then I plodded through the sections on things like government and daily life, which ranged from inapplicable (rules about pets, children, and voting) to absurd (observations about people’s use of social media and hosting dinner parties).
The real breakthrough probably happened when I discovered this unofficial Life in the UK Test website, complete with free practice tests. I installed their app and started running through tests. It gave me a sense of what kind of details I needed to remember, and the questions were very similar to the kinds of questions on the actual test. About 20 practice tests later, I felt confident that (with a quick review of names and key dates right before the test) I would be ready.
The other frustrating bit about the test involves booking and showing up for it. There are specific test centers (none of which are in Wales) and you have to take the test at one of the five centers closest to where you live. We decided to combine it with a trip to Manchester, since we go there fairly often anyway. And then you have to show up with an ID and proof of postcode.
I recommend securing the proof of postcode well in advance! I realized that (thanks to saving trees with paperless bills) my only real option was to go to the bank and get a stamped printout of a statement. I then worried, based on what we’d read online, that I’d have trouble because my name on the statement wasn’t an exact match to the name on my ID. I couldn’t get it updated until my next statement, and of course there isn’t a bank branch in town here so I waited until the day of the test to get it, leaving me no time to get it updated. Thankfully, it was accepted without a second glance, but I worried all day before the test about being rejected for that (which would mean losing the fee and having to rebook and pay again to take it later). Better to have everything in order well ahead of time.
And in the end, it all worked out! We arrived, took the test, and got our passing result in about half an hour total. We now have our certificates in hand and are almost ready to submit our residency application. Keep your fingers crossed for us! And if you’ll excuse me, I need to go challenge my husband to a game of Trivial Pursuit — this time, using our British set of question cards …