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British Citizenship Tests:

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Nearly a third of foreigners wanting to make Britain their home failed to pass their citizenship test, figures show.

The 45 minute test on British society, history and culture is a crucial step on the road to being allowed to settle permanently or full citizenship.

But of the 906,464 people who took it in 2009, 263,641 failed - a pass rate of 70.9%, Home Office figures show.

Those with with a pass rate below 50% came from Iraq, Bangladesh and Turkey - all major sources of new UK arrivals.

Some 40,200 Iraqis sat the exam, with a pass rate of 47.9%. Among the 30,014 Turks who took the test the rate was 45.9%, while out of 38,085 Bangladeshis, 21,345 failed - a pass rate of 44%.

Those from other non-EU countries with high levels of migration to the UK performed better, including Nigeria, with a pass rate of 82.5%, and Zimbabwe with a pass rate of 90.2%.

Citizens of English-speaking countries tended to do best in the 24 question multiple-choice exam.

The 13,223 Australians who took the test had a pass rate of 98%, just ahead of the United States on 97.9% and Canada on 96.9%.

Several countries achieved pass rates of 100%, although the very small number of candidates tended to skew the results. The Cook Islands' sole entrant passed.

Similarly, there were some very low pass rates from countries with a handful of candidates sitting the test - five out of the six French Guyanans who sat the test failed, giving them a pass rate of 16.7%.

And the Christmas Islands had a 100% fail rate, thanks to the failure of its sole candidate.

British society

The Home Office's Life in the UK Test is required for settlement, or indefinite leave to remain, in the UK or full British citizenship.

The test must be completed on a computer at one of 11 test centres around the UK.


Introduced in 2005, the test is meant to help new arrivals hoping to make Britain their home integrate better into British society.

It covers issues such as Britain's constitution, the originating countries of previous UK immigrants, family life in the UK and where dialects like Geordie, Scouse or Cockney come from.

More practical matters such as the minimum age to buy alcohol and tobacco and what services are provided by local authorities are also covered.

According to the Home Office website, "studying for and taking the test will give you the practical knowledge you need to live in this country and to take part in society".

Passing the citizenship test demonstrates the candidate has "a sufficient knowledge" of the English language for the purposes of applying for settlement rights or a British passport.

The test is an alternative to completing an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course "with civic content".



American Samoa, Andorra, Comoros, Cook Islands, East Timor, French Metropolitan, Gibraltar, Kiribati, Leichtenstein, Luxembourg, Niue, Palau, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Rhodesia, San Marino, Sao Tarme and Principe, Soviet Union, Suriname, Tuvalu, Virgin Islands, Western Sahara


British Indian Ocean Territories, British Overseas Territories, Christmas Island, Netherlands Antilles, Timor Leste

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