It’s already been two years since we moved to the UK. The time has flown by. So now it’s time for me to renew my visa. Two weeks ago, I downloaded the visa application. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I needed to take a test called the Life in the UK Test before I could apply for my visa. So I bought the study book online and commenced to a rigid program of half-hearted studying that involved skimming the book nightly whilst listening to some of my favorite podcasts.
A couple days before the test date, I decided I was ready to take the official online practice test. Let’s just say that it was harder than I expected. It contained questions like:
What percentage of the population of the UK is Muslim?
They’ve got to be kidding me with this, I thought. Usually when you take a multiple choice test if you have a vague notion of what the answer is you can guess correctly. The answer choices are usually like this:
These are the kinds of choices I’m used to seeing.
I failed the practice test badly. Needless to say, I actually had to study, and I had three days to learn all the population information, land mass, government system, and basic history contained in the 148 page study guide.
The day of the big test arrived, and I knew it was not my day when I couldn’t even figure out how to get into the testing center. I pulled and pulled on the door. Everyone sitting in the waiting room inside watched me struggle. Then the woman behind the counter motioned to me. I thought she was telling me that there was some kind of buzzer that I needed to push to get let in. So I started looking next to the door for a buzzer that wasn’t there. Then she started motioning even more. It was like some kind of strange dance. I responded by doing my own strange dance. Then a woman who was sitting in the waiting room came over and opened the door for me.
“You have to push the door,” she said, “not pull.” She made a pushing motion with her free hand.
“Oh,” I said.
When I told the receptionist that I was there to take the Life in the UK Test, she motioned to the seats in the waiting room and told me to wait there. She was probably thinking that I’d never pass the test because I couldn’t even manage to open the door. Luckily, I knew that there was no door opening section on the exam.
Everyone in the waiting room was waiting to take the Life in the UK Test. They all sat quietly looking through their study guides quizzing themselves on all those useful facts and figures that would make all of our lives in the UK much easier–like how long the UK is from its farthest point end to end. I didn’t have my study guide with me so I read a fashion magazine instead. Learning whether it is best to wear high heel boots or strappy heels with a knit mini-dress is much more useful for my UK life then knowing that 92% of the population in the UK is white.
When it was finally time to take the test, we were all led into the testing room and told to find a seat at one of the 12 computers. When the person giving us the test started passing out scrap paper and pencils, I panicked. My study guide didn’t mention anything about math. Maybe that was covered in the part of the guide I didn’t bother reading. I’m terrible at math.
Before taking the real test, we took a 4-question practice test to familiarize ourselves with the computer and how to answer the questions. Let’s just say that I didn’t get 100% on the practice test. So I took it again and again and still couldn’t get all 4 questions right. Finally, I gave up and took the real test.
Somehow I passed! When I left the testing center I pulled the door open with no problem. I didn’t even fall down the steps outside. I even managed to cross the parking lot without getting hit by a car. I guess I really am ready for life in the UK.