Sunday, March 18, 2012

Taking Life in the UK test - tips on how to pass it easily

Photo by Piotr Pawłowski

For those who are looking to get UK Permanent Resident status otherwise known as Settlement (or indefinite leave to remain), you will have to first pass the Life in the UK test before actually submitting the PR application to UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Generally, if you are employed within the UK, you would be looking to apply for permanent residency after five years from the date you started work. To find out whether you need to take the test, check out the official Life in the UK test website.

Once confirmed, I would suggest you go for the test at least a couple of months before the actual application. Since there is no expiry date of the test result, it's just one of the things to get over with. In any event, if your first attempt is unsuccessful, you can always try again - there is no limit to the number of times you can reattempt. The registration fee has risen to £50 so that would provide some incentive to pass it at the first go.

The good news is that the test is rather simple one with only twenty-four multiple choice questions. Regardless, for many of us, it has been quite some time since we last sat for a paper. And I have heard of people failing it.

That being said, the process of sitting through the paper need not be that stressful - here are five surefire way of passing the Life in the UK test with ease.

1. No point booking a slot way ahead

Unless you are running a tight schedule, there's really no need to register for a test way before. Once your registration at a particular test centre is confirmed (there are several, just choose one nearest to you), you will receive a confirmation email. However, there's no reminder email thereafter. The last thing you want is to be sunbathing in the Mediterranean and not turn up for the test.

I would recommend booking a test slot just a week before. Any earlier than that would just prolong the agony.

2. Skip the reading

Most would recommend the official textbook published by the Home Office. By all accounts, it is a thin book but an arduous read nevertheless. If you have to read, I suggest you go for the study guide, which is a condensed version of the official textbook. Other than focusing on the more important sections, this study guide provides a couple of full length (well twenty-four MCQs) towards the end with full answers. That should give you a feel of the actual test.

Here's the quick and dirty way. Skip the reading. Yes, just skip it and jump into the test questions directly. Give yourself more credit. You have been in the UK for near to five years now; you should be able to answer at least half of the questions with relative ease. Does the UK have a national football team? Are there more men in tertiary education than men? Does the UK have a written Constitution? You get the drift (the answers are all no by the way).

If you loath to be stuck with a book, head to a free Life in the UK test practice questions site. This site offers fifty-five full length practice tests. I can assure you that you would pass the actual test easily after going through at least forty of them. Don't be discourage when you fail a couple of practice tests, just reload the pages and go through them again till the answers are at your fingertips.

3. Don't forget your validation papers

The staff at the test centres are quite sticky about whether you are who you say you are. When you first register for the test, you are given the option of which identification you will be bringing along during the test day. Permissible ones include passport and driving licenses with photo identification. Just remember to bring the one that you have indicated.

Besides that, you will need another document that will verify your home address. Utility, credit card, council tax bills and bank account statements are some of them. Just make sure your full name is reflected on that document.

People have been rejected based on this and I know of one who has to run back home to retrieve his papers. Luckily for him, he just live round the corner. Not all of us are as fortunate as him.

4. No need to arrive way early

There is a note when you register requesting you to turn up at least thirty minutes in advance for identification validation. Half an hour prior is just about right. The identification process is pretty quick (probably three to four minutes per person); it's the queuing that delays. However, I am under the impression that they have to finish validating everyone before running the test anyway, so there's really no point you being the first in line and spend a long time just waiting for the rest and getting all worked up.

5. Get comfortable and check your work

After an initial round of identification, you will be given a set of four questions so that you can get used to the format. These wouldn't count towards the final score. Take some time to get comfortable with the layout.

The actual twenty-four MCQ will be presented after a second round of validation (I wasn't kidding when I said that they were stringent). You would be able to go through each question, skip or come back to any question at any point in time. With forty-five minutes provided, you have more than enough time.

The old adage your teachers tried drilling into you still applies: check your work. You can never imagine the silly mistakes that one does under immense pressure. Inevitably, there will be people who completed it under two minutes and walked out. Don't let that bother you. You can stay there for the entire forty-five minutes if you want (not that I suggest that you should).

After you are done, just informed the staff and leave the room. You will be told whether you passed or failed almost immediately after a third round of id check (see what I mean?).

It doesn't sound too bad, does it? Have you recently taken your Life in the UK test? How do you find it?

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