Citizenship test has become a ‘bad pub quiz’, says university academic

editorial image
Have your say

A DURHAM professor claims the UK citizenship test is like a ‘bad pub quiz’.

Research by Durham University academic, Dr Thom Brooks, has exposed major flaws in the exam, which is taken by 150,000 would-be British citizens each year.

Dr Brooks, a US immigrant, combined first-hand knowledge about the Life in the United Kingdom test with his expertise in citizenship and politics to scrutinise the exam.

This week he has published his first comprehensive report into the test to draw attention to what has been a central component of British immigration policy for the last decade, raise awareness of serious problems with it and to recommend solutions.

He said: “The Life in the UK test is an integral part of immigration policy and a requirement for any non-EU citizen seeking permanent residency or citizenship, yet it is unfit for purpose because it goes too far to include information about British culture and history at the expense of practical knowledge.

“The biggest surprise is the lack of attention successive governments have paid to ensuring the test is fair and not out of date – a surprise even bigger than the sometimes shocking questions that can be found on the test.

“Many citizens that were born and bred in the UK would struggle to know the answers to many of these questions.

“Britain will not be more cohesive because more have heard about the Battle of Trafalgar, but rather if future citizens understand better how to participate in daily British life and make a contribution.”

The Rev Lord Roberts of Llandudno, vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, said: “Dr Brooks’ report is a welcome addition to the sensible immigration debate. I am delighted to echo his call that the test, which is both impractical and irrelevant as it stands, be reformed.”

Dr Brooks said his report does not conclude that the test should be abandoned, but reformed.

The Life in the United Kingdom test, which was introduced in 2005, must be passed in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain, settlement or citizenship. There are 24 questions and applicants must provide at least 18 correct answers in 45 minutes.

There is an official practice citizenship test site,, for anyone who would like to try a mock test.