This is the second study text that I bought - I mistakenly thought that the official text was available ONLY through the Home Office publication. In that belief, I bought both this text and a study guide with practice questions.
I found that the Study Guide and CD Rom by Henry Dillon (ISBN 095521596X; published by Red Squirrel) includes the full text from chapters 2 through 6 - the ones that are covered in the text - of this Home Office publication. In addition, the Henry Dillon book includes 10 practice tests in the book and a CD Rom that allows you to access online practice materials. I feel that the other book is much better value than this one.
It may seem like a minor point, but I also feel that the Henry Dillon book is also in a more convenient format. It's a smaller but thicker paperback compared to this Home Office publication, which is thin but A4 sized and harder to carry in your average handbag!
Overall, I don't feel that this Home Office publication is useful as a study guide and it doesn't offers much preparation for the test. Without sample questions, it is difficult to get a feel for how to treat the text - Should I memorize every fact? Do I need to know every date? The volume of information is actually quite large and the text fairly dense (every sentence is important), so without sample questions it could very easily become overwhelming.
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The book and its contents are very well written ,albeit a little cavalier in its attitude. But the gripe I have is the poor choice of background colour of the text paper.a light purple !!! The best background for technical or other study guide is white, with black printing... period. Any other colours are purely from a design point of view and it takes eye strain to read this guide..
The 'Life in the UK test' itself has audio. However, the Government has elected not to make available any official audio materials with this publication. That is is a real pity.
This book is the only offical study material for the 'Life in the UK test' and it is only sensible to review it in that context.
From April 2007 most categories of migrants to the UK will have to pass the 'Life in the UK' test if they want Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or a UK Passport. For those seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain the requirement has, unusually for UK law, been applied retrospectively so that, for example, a spouse entering the UK as far back as November 2005 and applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in October 2007 is still required to have passed the test even though that was not a part of the process on initial entry to the UK. In all other areas this would be called 'changing the goal-posts'.
Questions for the 'Life in the UK test' are taken from Chapters 2 through to 6. If English is your first language you are likely to be able to read this title and go on to pass the test. If English is your second language then it is probably worth getting someone whose first language is English to study with and signing up for one of the online question services.
Written by the Home Office Life in the UK Advisory Group, the people who set the citizenship test, the book is, sadly, exactly what you might expect from this sort of committee. While it might be argued that the book contains lots of useful material about accessing help, unemployment and employment rights if you find yourself in those kinds of positions there are a great many better more user-friendly sources of advice and real help.
I firmly believe that many UK citizens would not be able to answer questions taken from this title. For example, I doubt if that many UK pasport holders know what year women first gained the right to vote or own property. The choice of language, while typical of government material, is very dry and not accessible even to those with very good English. I am afraid to say this book is very dull.
In research conducted on Facebook, press released 13 Jan 08, of 11,118 British people who sat a sample test based on the home office citizenship test only 1,585, or 14 per cent, achieved a pass score. Albeit that these people didn't study for the test but this reinforces the disconnection between the content of the title and the knowledge of Britizh citizens.
The Gunning Fog Index is a recognised measure of readability. The randomly chosen left hand column of Page 39 of the Life in UK publication comes out at a Gunning Fog Index of 11.33 using the free Wikipedia calculator, excluding the tables. Typical Fog Index Scores for other publications are: TV guides (6), The Bible (6), Mark Twain (6), Reader's Digest (8), Most popular novels (8-10), Time (10), Newsweek (10), Wall Street Journal (11), The Times (14), The Guardian (14), Academic Papers (15-20). Draw your own conclusions about how accessible the offical guidance has been made to those whose first language isn't English. Why is that?
If the government was serious about encouraging immigrants to learn about the UK they would have employed journalists from the Sun or the Mirror to write interesting useful relevant material. It is not an accident that these newspapers are written expertly to a reading age of about 8 years. According to the Audit Commission 75 per cent of UK residents have a reading age of between eight and eleven years and will be able to understand text containing short sentences with few words of three or more syllables.
Parts of the material are now out of date. For example the age at which you can buy cigarettes has now been raised from 16 to 18. Furthermore, the Northern Ireland Assembly is no longer suspended.
Finally, the title makes no mention of the other way that those seeking Indefinite Leave to Remain can meet the English Language Requirement. That is by reaching a minimum of ESOL Entry Level 1 in 'Speaking and Listening' (certificate required) and producing a letter from their place of study reporting 'progress' and stating that the course includes 'citizenship materials'.
Regrettably the ill conceived 'Life in the UK test' looks here to stay for the moment. Therefore, do buy this title because otherwise you won't have a clue what you are likely to be tested on. Good luck with the test (currently £50) - you can take it as many times as you have to.