The 'Life in the UK' test

Definition of Life in the UK Test

This is a test administered by the UK government which is given to people who either wish to be naturalized citizens of the UK or to those applying for permission to remain in the UK indefinitely or settlement.

The test basically checks how well the applicant knows life in the UK. Aside from that, the language skills of the applicant are tested as well because the test is only administered in English.

In relation to English skills, the applicant must have an ESOL entry level 3 prior to taking the test.

Applicants who have lower levels of ESOL must raise it to the required level prior to applying to take the test.

The test is composed of 24 questions and the answers can all be found in the Life in the United Kingdom handbook.

Who are the persons required to take this test?

All non-UK citizens who wish to become naturalized citizens are required to take and pass this test. It is likewise a requirement also for applicants who wish to remain in the UK for an indefinite period of time.

Where can you take this test?

This test can be taken anywhere in the UK where there is an accredited Life in the UK test centre. When the applicant applies for testing at a test centre, there is a waiting period of 7 to 28 days for booking of the test. This waiting period should not exceed 56 days.

Testing centres can be found in England and Wales.

The test is not available overseas so those who wish to take the test must return to the United Kingdom for this purpose.

What effective review materials are available?

There is only one handbook that must be studied. This is the Life in The United Kingdom Handbook, 2nd edition.

As far as the test content is concerned, this is the sole reading required. Those applicants who are not too well versed in the English language may be advised to read supplementary materials such as ESL or English as a Second Language.

The test is computer based so it is important for the applicant to be fairly comfortable and proficient at working with computers.

There are practice modules at the UK Border agency site which can help prospective applicants acquire and practice the necessary computer skills.

These skills are focused primarily on mouse and keyboard navigation.

The government agency tasked with administering the tests stresses that the only required reading apart from the English language review, is the official handbook. There are many companies and sites that offer review material online and offline. Some can be availed of free of any charges. Others do require payment upfront to access the material. None of these review materials are endorsed nor recommended by the government. They advise prospective test takers not to partake of any of these materials particularly since some suggest memorizing certain questions and answers because it is alleged that they will appear on the exam.

This is not true and memorizing them is not only a waste of time but it may result in failure in the exam if undue and useless attention is focused on these questions.

Study Pointers

On the government site, it is emphasized to study thoroughly Chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 as bulk of the questions will be taken from these chapters. Some questions will be specific to the locale where the applicant is residing so ensure that you have taken note of information specific to your area.


What is the general content of the Life in the United Kingdom handbook?

Topics cover a wide range of topics that make up life in the United Kingdom. As you will see below, there are quite a lot of topics to read and it is best to make use of the material that the government has provided since you can be sure that the answer will be found there.

Forget about the sites that promise to give you the magic formula. There are none and there’s no shortcut. Just study the handbook and take it to heart.

Some examples of the topics

  • Migrating to the UK

  • Defining the changing role of women

  • Issues regarding children, families and teenagers

  • Population and the different regions in Britain

  • Religion, customs and traditions

  • The type and method of government

  • Housing and basic services

  • Money, credit and the financial system

  • Health system and benefits

  • Educational system and ESOL

  • Leisure activities

  • Travel and transport

  • Personal identification and other records

  • Working in the UK and the benefits

  • Equal rights at work and other concepts

  • Self-employment and its unique issues

  • Childcare and laws regarding work and children

Pointers when taking the test

As mentioned earlier, the test is composed of 24 questions taken from the handbook. There are questions that are specific to the place in the UK where you currently reside. So it would be a good idea to make a special note of the location specific information in the handbook.

The applicant is given 45 minutes to complete the test so this gives them a lot of time to answer the twenty-four questions comprising the test.

It is very important, particularly for those who are not too experienced in English, to carefully read each question and understand it thoroughly before answering. As mentioned above, there is enough time for all the questions so do not rush reading and answering.

What if you fail the Life in the UK test?

The applicant is allowed to take as much as two practice tests which will not affect the result of the final test.

Failure in the actual test will require the payment for a new test so it is advisable to review thoroughly and when in doubt, avail of the 2 practice tests.

You can apply for another test after 7 days has passed.

In order to minimize your expense, it is better to wait a bit longer to evaluate where you had problems and to address these areas. If your English skills were found wanting, then take time to hone and practice your skills in this area.

Moreover, if you fail, do not file your application for naturalisation or settlement yet!