Life in the UK Test Tips
We have prepared some study tips to help you remember what you have learnt in the Life in the UK Test book. People learn and absorb information in a myriad of different ways. Some people simply find that reading information over and over again is effective, whilst others find that taking notes, drawing pictures, recording and listening to information, or writing down questions to ask themselves later, is beneficial.
Active learning, the method of engaging your senses; your sight, touch, hearing or speaking, as well as your memory and imagination for the purpose of learning, is a very effective tool for many people. This involves doing more than just reading the study material and repeating it to yourself. The following guide suggests different active learning methods you can employ as you study for the Life in the UK Test. Choose the ones that work best for you.
Planning your study time
One of the most effective things you can do when studying the Life in the UK Test book is to plan your time. For the vast majority of people, studying in small amounts on a regular basis works best.
It is a good idea to create a study timetable through which you can plan out your weekly study routine. You should start this a number of weeks before the date of your test. Do your best to stick to the schedule and don’t leave your learning to the last minute.
Your study time should be divided into short, frequent sessions with breaks in between each session. You will find you will learn material faster and ultimately do better on your test if your learning is done in small chunks spread out of a longer period of time, rather than in a few lengthy sessions just before your test. If it’s been a while since you last studied for something, aim for 10-15 minutes for each session and gradually increase the time as you establish a routine. If you find your concentration waning, stop studying and take a break. This will allow you to recharge after processing a lot of information. It may be a good idea to plan out your breaks with alarms. Once you feel more refreshed, return to your studying.
If you don’t know when your most productive time of the day is, try studying at different times during the day to find which time best suits you. There is no one “best” time to study; each person will have their own preference. Some people find they study better in the morning whilst others prefer studying during evening hours. Regardless of what time you prefer studying, ensure you get a sufficient amount of sleep. Your concentration will suffer if you’re tired.
You should also find a suitable studying environment. Find a comfortable, quiet place, preferably without distractions such as a television or computer. If you can’t find a suitable place to study in at home or work, try a local library or community centre. If the weather is good and you enjoy the outdoors, you could take your books to the park or another open space.
If you know someone else studying for the Life in the UK Test, you could ask them to be your study partner so you could help each other learn. Having a study buddy is a great idea, providing that you’re both sensible and focused. On the other hand, you may find having a study partner is distracting and counter-productive; do what works best for you.
If you do choose to study with someone else, you can have discussions on different topics and bounce ideas off one another. As you read each section of the book, you can write down your own questions to ask your study partner and vice versa. You
You can write down your own questions about each topic as you read them. Give them to your study buddy or a friend to ask you. You could write down answers separately or just check them in the study material.
Read to remember
You will have to read and remember a lot of detailed information. Good ways to do this are as follows:
- Look at the title of each section and think about what you already know about the topic
- Get a feel for the section – read it quickly and ask yourself these questions:
- What are the key points?
- What do I remember?
- Read the section again slowly and in detail. Read it more than once if it helps. Next:
- write the key points in your own words;
- check your notes against the section;
- correct your notes if necessary; and
- add any important points you missed.
Plan a review every few days or once a week. Before you learn anything new, read our notes again then go back to the questions at the end of each section and answer them.
Notes written in your own words, in English or, if you like, in your own language:
- help you to remember what you have read;
- are useful for revision; and
- are shorter and quicker to read and learn.
You could write your notes in this guide or in a notebook or on cards.
Reasons to make notes directly in this guide include:
- it is quick and easy to write in the margins;
- you only have one book to think about; and
- you can use a highlighter pen or underline to mark key points.
Reasons to write notes separately from the guide could be that:
- you have summarised what you have read in your own words to help you understand and remember; and
- you will have short notes to revise, so you do not have to read the whole guide again.
You could do both if you wish.
There are different ways to make and organise your notes, as follows:
- Write the main points from each section on pieces of paper or cards.
- Do not write too much detail. Have one key piece of information on each card with spaces between sentences so they are easy to read and remember.
- Write your own questions on your cards. You can use them to test yourself or give them to someone else to test you.
- Some people find that using different coloured pens or pencils to highlight important information – names, dates, numbers, etc. – helps them to remember facts more easily.
If you can, put the cards in places where you will see them frequently – for example, on a pinboard, a minor or your fridge.
Checking your understanding
When you have finished reading a section, put your Life in the UK Test book down. Ask yourself what the main points are and describe them in your own words. If you have a study buddy explain the topic to him or her. If you are studying alone it still helps to do this aloud if you can – pretend you are teaching someone else. Some people find it helpful to record what they learn on their phone, computer or voice recorder.
Use your imagination and creativity to help you remember. You can also try the techniques listed below to help you remember what you need to know.
A mnemonic (pronounced nem-onic) is a memory aid; a technique for helping your brain to remember something. Mnemonics are commonly used for remembering lists, spellings, numbers or learning a new language. The word comes from Ancient Greek and means ‘of memory’. Mnemonics do not need to make sense. A common mnemonic is to use the first letter of each word you need to remember and use them to make up a sentence or story. Humour helps to make a mnemonic more memorable. For example, the sentence below:
No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely
could help you remember the British royal families in the right order:
Normandy, Plantagenet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor
Or you could use more than one letter at the start of the word. This sentence reminds you of the names of the four UK capital cities:
Ed Loves Car Bells
Edinburgh, London, Cardiff, Belfast
The best mnemonics are ones that make you laugh or that you make up when you are learning. This helps make strong connections in your brain.
You can also use pictures in your mind to help you fix the information in your memory. So to remember Ed Loves Car Bells, you could imagine a man dressed in a tartan kilt with Ed written on his shut or his cap, looking lovingly at a car covered in bells. You could add details – the word ‘love’ could be made out of London sights, the car could look like a Welsh dragon, and the bells could be in the shape of flax flowers from the Northern Ireland Assembly logo. Yes, it is silly, but you will remember it.
If you find it easier to remember what you see, you are a visual learner. Spider diagrams or mind maps should work for you. Use them to link facts together. Colours and pictures will make them even more memorable.
Drawings, pictures and diagrams are a wonderful way of recording and organising information. If you create the diagram yourself it will be more meaningful to you and therefore easier to recall the important facts you record.
You could make diagrams or drawings on sheets of paper or cards. Place or pin them somewhere you will see them frequently until you remember what is on them.
Many people find dates and numbers that mean little to them difficult to remember. If this is you, try some of the following tips:
- Make up a rhyme about the date. A well-known example from America is:
In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
to remember the date 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered America.
- If you enjoy singing, repeat the dates – or your rhyme – to a musical beat.
- Create a sentence in which the number of letters in each word are the same as the number you want to remember, e.g. for Columbus: A (1) good (4) discovery (9) is (2). If you find it easier, use words from your home language.
- Make the date memorable by linking it to personal information – the year you, or a family member or friend, were born or the number of a house where you lived.
- Link a date or number to information from the country where you were born. So to remember that British women over the age of 21 got the right to vote in 1928, link it to the date when women could vote in that country or an event you know about that happened during that year.
- Try imagining the numbers as pictures or shapes. Number 1 could be a post or stick, 2 a swan, 3 a fork, etc; or 3 is a triangle and 4 a square and so on.
Using a dictionary to look up every word you do not understand will slow you down and could make you feel frustrated. Try to work out the meaning of the word using the information from the rest of the sentence or paragraph. Ask yourself if it is important to know what a word means to understand the sentence or idea – you do not always need to know the meaning of every word to understand a sentence.
If there are lots of words you do not understand, write them down and continue reading. When you have finished reading a passage or section, look them up, write down what they mean in your notes or in a small notebook, then read the passage again.
Don’t forget that you can look up many of the words in the glossaries at the end of each chapter of this book, which tell you what words and phrases in the study materials mean.
If you have access to the internet, you could use Google Translate. However, use it with care as it is not always accurate!
Include time for revision in your study plan. Reviewing what you learnt a week or two before your test will help to store the information more firmly in your memory. You will be surprised how much you remember – this will help your confidence. Use the revision questions at the end of each chapter, together with the tasks in the chapters.
Ask a friend, relative or study buddy to help you by asking you questions from this study guide or by making up questions using your notes or the cards you have made. You could explain some of the things you have learnt to someone else. They might enjoy learning something new.