Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Step Toward Settlement in Scotland

Man, what a crazy month June was for me! I had a party to plan (more on that in my next post) and still learning how to deal with a newborn who will NOT stop nursing and worse--I had to study and take my "Life in the UK" test.
For those who don't know, there are a series of hoops one must jump through in order to settle in the UK. Some of you know from a post last year, Andy and I had to produce a ton of documentation just to apply for my fiancee visa. After receiving it, I was allowed to marry. I thought that was that! Married to a Brit, so I can stay, right?
Next thing I knew, I had to apply to settlement in the UK. If accepted, I may remain in the UK for 2 years, work legally, and THEN I may apply (without necessarily being accepted) for citizenship.

But before I could produce another boatload of documentation to apply for settlement, I had to take the "Life in the UK" test. And what a procedure that is!
This 45 minute computerize test had me stressed out! I could barely find time to study because taking care of Ruben is sooo demanding.
There is a Life in the UK Test website that details everything--all the what, when, where, how, why one needs to know this form of adult torture. The whole experience threw me back to my days of high school multiple choice exams.
The worst is that most Brits couldn't answer many of the questions. I agree that much should be known if you plan to reside or become a citizen, but damn it, some of them were just plain stupid.
Seriously, how many born and raised UK folk can tell me what year British women won the right to divorce or what year they could claim property?? How does that make you a better citizen if you did know??

I ran many of the sample test questions past my UK friends here and nearly all of them failed! Many of the questions required you to memorize years, percentages, proportions, various differences of the UK's regions (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland).

The test costs 34 pounds. There are 24 questions and you must answer at least 18 correctly in 45 minutes. The questions cover such topics as:

Children, family and young people
The regions of Britain
Money and credit
Travel and transport
Looking for work
Equal rights and discrimination
At work
Working for yourself
Childcare and children at work
Migration to Britain
The changing role of women

If you failed, you are more than welcome to take the test again as early as 7 days later (if you can get scheduled that soon--which you can't). And of course, you have to pay again.

I had to travel to Dundee, which was my closest test center to Perth. The other test takers were quite diverse: young, old, male, female, of various races and ethnicities. Some were taking it settle and others were taking the test for citizenship. All were just as nervous and friendly as myself and so we spent some time quizzing each other minutes before the test. Funnily enough, when we hit a question none of us could remember the answer to, we tried to ask the attending test administrators--none of who could tell us ANYTHING. They admitted that they could answer most of the questions.
There's something kinda weird about that to me.

The test was nerve-racking and harder than the sample tests in the back of my study guides! I hate that kind of test-taking. Multiple choice questions can never test your intelligence...just how well you are at memorizing stuff.

Anyway, my fellow immigrant test-takers and I all passed that day!

So, now I am allowed to take my test results and make an appointment to provide another encyclopedia-worth of documentation to apply for settlement. And oh yeah, that's gonna cost about 1000 pounds.

Check out some of these typical questions from the Life in the UK test:

Children, family and young people

Do many children live in single parent families or step-families?

When do children take tests at school? How many go on to higher education?
What are the minimum ages for buying alcohol and tobacco? What drugs are illegal?


How many people live in the countries of the UK?
What is the census and how is census data collected and used?
How many people belong to an ethnic minority and which are the largest minority groups? Where are there large ethnic communities?

The regions of Britain

Where are Geordie, Cockney and Scouse dialects spoken?
What languages other than English are spoken in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?

How the United Kingdom is governed

What type of constitution does the UK have?
What is the Queen's official role and what ceremonial duties does she have?
What is the House of Lords and who are its members?
How do elections for the House of Commons work? What do the Speaker and Whips do?
What is the role of the Prime Minister? Who advises them and what are the main roles in the Cabinet?
What is the Opposition and what is the role of the Leader of the Opposition?
What is the civil service and how do civil servants work with government?


How many people in the UK own their own home?
What do estate agents do? What do solicitors and surveyors do?

Money and credit

What are the values of the UK bank notes? Where can people get or change foreign currency?
How can people open a bank or building society account?
What types of insurance do people buy?
What is social security and who receives it?
How can people get information about benefits?


What is the NHS?
How do people receive medicines from a GP? Which groups of people receive free prescriptions?
What is NHS direct, and NHS direct online?
Which groups of people receive free dental treatment?
What services are available to pregnant women? Which organisations offer information on maternity and ante-natal services?


What are the ages of compulsory education? How does this differ in Northern Ireland? Who is responsible for ensuring a child attends school?
What are the different stages of education? At what age do children leave school?
At what age do children go to secondary school?
How does this differ in Scotland?
What are faith schools? What are independent schools?
What is the national curriculum? At what ages do children take key stage tests in England? At what age do children take GCSEs and A levels?
How is education different in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?


What is the film classification system? What are the classifications?
What is a television licence? What is the licence money used to pay for?

Travel and transport

Which organisations provide information about trains, buses and coaches? Which groups of people can get discount tickets?
How long can overseas driving licences be used for in the UK?
What is motor insurance, road tax and MOT? Where can people purchase a road tax disc? Who can provide an MOT certificate?
What are the laws covering seat belts, crash helmets and holding mobile phones whilst driving? What are the speed limits for cars and motorcycles?

Looking for work

Where are jobs advertised? Where can people access advice on finding jobs and claiming benefits?
Who can be a referee?

Equal rights and discrimination

Which organisations offer information on law and discrimination?
What can individuals do if they are subject to sexual harassment?

At work

What are the legal responsibilities of employers?
What is National Insurance? How is it paid? How can people obtain a National Insurance number?
What is a State Pension? What is the State Pension age for men and for women?
Who can offer information on occupational or personal pensions?
What is an employment tribunal?
What is redundancy? What is jobseeker's allowance?

Working for yourself

What responsibilities do self-employed people have?
Where can people get advice on setting up their own business?

Childcare and children at work

Where can people access information on childcare and registered childminders?
What is the earliest legal age at which children can do paid work?
What documents must a child have before they can work?
What type of jobs can children NOT do?
What are the limits on working hours and times for children?

Migration to Britain

Where have migrants come from in the past and why? What sort of work have they done?

The changing role of women

Do women have equal rights in voting, education and work, and has this always been the case?


At Jul 11, 2007, 8:31:00 AM, Blogger Pille said...

Congrats on passing the test - looks quite comprehensive!!

At Jul 22, 2007, 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Bhuidhe said...

Bah. Rubbish. These are the questions you have to answer:

1. How many times a week does a new mother have a right to demand a complete foot massage from the child's father?

2. When baby is sick over your nice clothes is it mummy or daddy's job to wash them?

3. What is a spurtle?

4. What is baby's favourite brand of zinc cream?

5. When people tell you that your child is a "wee cracker" do they mean that
- a) he is a small Christmas object to be pulled at both ends containing a novelty hat, plastic keyring and poor joke OR
- b) he is a thin unleavened bread-like substance OR
- c) he's a gorgeous little creature?

All the best and congratulations on the test. :-) Jane


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