Lambros Petrou
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit!" — Aristotle

Life In The UK test — Tips for 2020

Short version

Long version

The book

I strongly recommend buying the Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide for New Residents, 3rd edition book 📖 Especially if you are like me and prefer reading a “story” rather than just memorizing 100 names and dates taken out of context.

I did a quick read of the whole book cover to cover, and then did a more focused re-read of topics like the law system, or some important leaders, i.e. Queen Victoria, Elizabeth, the wars with the French, etc. (1 day)

The idea is simple, every question on the test is literally a sentence taken out of the book, formed as multiple-choice. Therefore, reading the book at least once gets you 50-60% there.

The only thing I really wish the book provided is a simple timeline with just the names of all the different leaders/queens/kings on the same line in order, otherwise I found it hard to remember all the James and Charles. There is a Henry VIII for God’s sake.

Therefore, I did this stupidly simple timeline myself the night before the exam: https://gist.github.com/lambrospetrou/68241a9243312d95b19812ebf36109df

Feel free to use it, or even submit edit requests if you want to add something missing or fix some inaccuracy. Please note that this not supposed to be a summary of the book, or even a list of all the events. Its main purpose is to list important people, along with “some” events.

Practice tests

Practice makes perfect! - someone wise

After reading the book, your next step is to do practice tests, lots of them. There are many websites, and applications for both iOS and Android, but I suggest using one where you can see why an answer is wrong or correct. This is super important! Also, it’s important to find an app with many tests with a broad coverage of the book chapters.

I used the Life in the UK Test 2020 Android application, and it was immensely helpful to see the exact exerpt from the book that justifies why the answer is correct or wrong. Reading those sentences over and over, even the ones you already know, will just stick them in your brain for good 🏋🏽‍♀️ This application has a “cramming mode”, where it shows you the answer before-hand. I did not use that though, because putting some effort every time to make a choice forces you to think, and this forces your brain to start doing associations between names, dates, and events. Reading the answer will just magnify that reasoning.

The above application has 48 tests as of the time of writing. This was my practice methodology:

  1. Did every test in order, but before moving to the next one, I repeated the test until I scored at least 22 out of 24. Anything less, and I was doing the test again.
  2. Once I did all the tests, I started doing them again in random order. However, same as before, if I scored below 22/24 I repeated the test.

Note that there are no difficulty levels in this test. All of the questions are pretty much of the same difficulty depending on what you are good at remembering. For example, I am horrible at remembering all the sportswomen/men and poets, so I came up with memorable tricks to remember at least some of them, either to help pick the correct answer, or to eliminate the wrong ones. This memorable information does not have to be anything scientific. I am even proud to say that for some of them I associated the sound of their name to their invention or sport 😅

Overall, I spent roughly 6 hours just doing tests. The night before the exam I was at a point of completing a full test within 2 minutes, making just 1-2 mistakes, if any at all.

Conclusion

Read the book, do a hell lot of tests, and use your imagination to remember stuff.

Good Luck 🥳 🙌