The Unofficial Citizenship Test

For fun I decided to take the official practice citizenship test - that government interrogation designed to check whether immigrants have absorbed enough Britishness to merit a UK passport. 

I am born and bred British and so were three centuries of my family tree.  I scored 53 per cent and failed the test.

Briefly I was stricken. I love warm ale and the sound of hard balls on cricket bats. I own a box set of episodes of Are you Being Served?. I thought I was British to the core. But, according official criteria, I am an imposter.

Then I started to ponder and it struck me that the problem is not with my imperfect national identity but with the questions. You could know how many days a year British schools have to be open, the difference between Hansard and Speaker’s Notes and which year women won the right to divorce their husbands and still nurse a murderous hatred of the British way of life. But noone who sincerely loves Marmite could look an Englishman in the eye and wish him ill.

Something needs to be done about this flawed view of identity and it looks as though it’s up to me to do it. And so, to celebrate impending St George’s Day and with the aid of some oracles from Twitter, I propose to submit a new set of criteria to the government. Being English, I would not presume to speak for the Welsh, Scots or Northern Irish, so my test is purely to test the Englishness of foreign nationals seeking to become One of Us.

Noone should be granted a UK passport unless they can prove that:

1.They accept that the emotional and medicinal solution to all crises is a tea bag.

2. At least one person in their family has bequeathed a sum to a donkey sanctuary.

3. They know what to do with a jar of Branston. Extra points for possession of at least three of the following: Heinz salad cream, Colman’s mustard, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tomato Ketchup, pickled onions. ‘We are,’ says one tweep, ‘a nation defined by our condiments.’

4. Pleasure is crouching behind The Sun in a rain-swept wind-shelter in Bournemouth.

5. They prefer sausages without any recognisable meat in and chocolate without recognisable chocolate in.

6. They keep a minimum of three pairs of Wellington boots in their hallway for emergencies and for putting the bins out.

7. They can discourse fluently on the weather of the previous, current and coming weeks for a minimum of ten minutes.

8. For solemn social occasions they must be able to discourse with equal fluency on the shortcomings of the NHS and provide details of least two family case studies, real or borrowed, to back up their argument.

9. They strip their bodies and clothe their washing lines upon the first chilly ray of spring sunshine.

10. They demonstrate appropriate reverence for the throbbing, thrusting proof of English male virility – a Black & Decker power tool.

11. They gather for the sacred ritual of the Sabbath, appropriately equipped with a chamois leather and a car vac.

12. They agree that no pint of warm beer is palatable without a loudspeaker blasting quiz questions about the US Open Championship and the 2010 finalist of The X Factor.

13. They can plant red and salmon pink begonias in symmetrical lines.

14. They can taste, blindfold, the difference between an Oreo and a Bourbon Cream.  

15. They own at least one domestic item bearing a Kath Kidston design.

So are YOU fit to be called English? Register your score below. Warning: candidates who achieve a score of 12 or less may be required to surrender their passports.


  1. Not sure about your marking scheme here – I think I scored 11, but do I actually have to have planted straight lines of begonias, or simply be able to if pressed? I HATE them. At least I'm more English than you: I scored 63% in the official test. Maybe we had different fathers.

    1. Anyone can plant begonias in a straight line if pressed. If you you have a properly English soul you'd WANT to plant them.

  2. 54percent, best move back to China!

    1. 54 per cent in mine or in the official one. If mine, that's shocking! You had better start packing!

  3. Yet again you've won fan points from my mum. She not only donated money to a donkey sanctuary, she adopted a donkey from said sanctuary and visited it every month with a full collection tin. Now she's recently moved to the country she's in the throes of planning her own mini donkey santuary. *sigh*

  4. I didn't do too badly especially as we don't really need wellies down here as it doesn't rain much. No Kath Kidson either, or The Sun, but I have eaten sarnies in the car looking through a windscreen lashed by rain on top of a cliff in Wales. Does that count?

  5. Um, score of 18 here (inc extras for kitchen cupboard essentials, for which I scored full marks). Failed on the Sun - but I'm sure the Mail counts too. So does shivering behind a windbreak in Filey during our annual week's holiday.

    As always, a highly entertaining read. And I am most jealous of people whose children's schooling enables them to blog regularly. Mine are now into their fourth week of school holidays, with no end in sight (well, it's next Wed, but it feels like a hundred years away). I fear I will not be doing any writing until September, as they will basically not be at school at all until then.

    Is ranting about excessive school holidays British too?!

    1. I think 18 out of 14 could be considered a pass. At least in the school hols you can have yours in bed by 8pm and ditch the bassoon. Actually I wrote this post when the kids were home from school. I just shut the door on them and told them I was checking work emails.

  6. I think correct usage of the adjective 'marvellous' is another criterion.

    1. I think you meant to say marvellous point.

  7. I didnt fare too badly and I do like a generous dollop of brown sauce with my fish and chips!

  8. Goodness I only scored 9 in yours! But took the other one a couple of years ago when working as a Nationality Checking Service Adviser (as well as registrar) and scored 65%.

    You have to question the rationale behind some of the questions. Most of us born and bred in the UK wouldn't know many of the answers. The candidates can keep re-taking the test until they pass.... for a fee each government raking in the money? Sadly a 'pass' did not necessarily mean a good working command of the English language.

    Along with Mills and Boon Wannabe I have an issue with regimented begonias! I am not overseeing a municipal park!

    1. I fear that you are not properly in touch with your national heritage! Although allowances can doubtless be made for Busy Lizzies...

  9. I do snowdrops, climbing roses and bearded irises.

  10. I was born and bred in England, went to a good school and university in England, my family have lived in England since the 1880s (but they did come from Europe so we have part of the EU for centuries ;P) and I scored 33% in 6 minutes (8/24). However, after a quick look at my test summary, I hastily (in under two minutes) did it again and scored 100%. It's amazing how quickly you can learn to be British.

    I scored 66% in your test though and I would like to add one question:- Does 75 for 6 refer to

    a) The number of packets of Smarties you can buy for six pounds?
    b) The cricket score?
    c) Bookings at a posh restaurant for high tea?
    d) The six UK citizens who have ever passed this test first time?

    1. I'm impressed that your Englishness has survived so well, but clearly you need to cme over here more often to brush up on condiments and garden bedding. I have absolutely no idea of the answer to your question. Must that ancient Dutch blood in the family holding me back!

  11. I only scored 2 in your test :(

    With my doubtful lineage I suppose I shouldn't be suprised by anything though!

    Scored 67% in the official one and still failed.

    There really is no hope for me.

    1. What on earth is the pass rate then? You did a lot better than me on that one but you really must work on your pickles!

  12. Hmm, I don't know which test I'd fare worst under. But I totally agree with your sentiment. To my mind, it is far better to focus on integration and things like being able to speak a degree of English, rather than asking ridiculous questions, that not even a born and raised Brit could answer.

    We are an island nation, we are built on generation after generation of immigrants. Surely that's what makes us so British!!!

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