Civil servant stupidity

Then his South African friends asked him how he did it. He typed up some sample multiple-choice questions for them, all based on his swotting-up of Life in the United Kingdom, the Home Office text on which the official exam is based. They passed. So he put his questions and some coaching notes on his blog and lots of people started using them. They passed. So he published a book that now outsells a Clarkson. Damned successful foreigners. With their brains. And their ingenious ideas.

His books, he tells me, are not popular with the Home Office. If candidates turn up at an exam clutching a Red Squirrel publication, they are informed that they have been using the wrong material. Clearly, the civil servants are unhappy that someone is attempting to make sense of their test. Until Dillon came along, they had refused to publish any sample exam papers. When he published 400 of his own questions, which proved uncannily prescient, their shroud of mystery was lifted.

Essentially, this bloke has published a crammer to help you pass the citizenship test.

You\’d think that this was actually a good thing, something to be welcomed by those administering the tests, no?

Apparently not. I can\’t for the life of me work out why though.

The purpose of the test is to make sure that those who gain citizenship know about the country they are gaining citizenship of, no? So teaching them about the country they are gaining citizenship of sounds like a very good idea really.

The opposite argument is absurd, akin to demanding that those taking A levels should be those who have never been to school.

So what are the bureaucrats up to?

9 comments on “Civil servant stupidity

  1. The purpose of these tests is not to discover who knows enough to be granted citizenship but to determine who knows insufficient and so can be denied citizenship.

    A high pass rate means failure, a low pas rate, success.

  2. I crammed for the Canadian one for a laugh. I bet that not more than one in ten Canadians could pass it. Stupid test is as ridiculous as ours: set by some academic obsessed with the constitution.

  3. If one wants to become a citizen of a country, exactly what’s wrong with being required to learn about the place and/or speak the language reasonably well?

    Most countries have in place some hoops for would-be citizens to jump through. Making people read a book and understand what’s in it (as opposed memorising the answers to a set of questions) doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    The Dutch provide no translations for their passport applications – if you don’t understand enough of the language to fill it out and converse with the passport official, you don’t get the passport.

  4. “If one wants to become a citizen of a country, exactly what’s wrong with being required to learn about the place and/or speak the language reasonably well?”

    Nothing. But anyone who thinks a Government committee can write a suitable set of questions is themselves insufficiently aware of their own culture. In other words, if you think the Government is competent, you’re not sufficiently British to live here. The questions reveal a horrifying outlook on the part of the social engineers who set the questions.

    Don’t believe me? Answer the following (from memory, please, no Googling, because you’re supposed to be British and already know the answers, yes?).

    “After how many months should an adult person receiving unemployment benefit join the New Deal programme?”

    “What percentage of children live with both birth parents?”

    “There is concern in Britain over the age at which some young people start drinking. True or false?”

    “A new born baby should be registered with The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths within how many weeks (in England and Wales)?”

    “What percentage of the population live in Wales?”

    “Which is the largest police force?”

    “What Christmas dish is made from suet, dried fruit and spices?”

    “How much maternity leave can women take?”

    “When did the European Union originate?”

    “Compulsory testing gives parents a good indication of their children’s progress. True or false?”

    “In the Old times The House of Lords was more powerful than The House of Commons. True or false?”

    “What percentage of the UK population is Jewish?”

    “What is the earliest legal age for a children to do paid work?”

    “What is the highest denomination bank note in the UK?”

  5. All right, all right, I fail. There’s nothing left for me now but to go to the British Embassy tomorrow morning (during the two hour window in which the idle tossers actually open to the public) to hand in my passport, a broken man.

  6. “So what are the bureaucrats up to?”

    Keeping themselves in jobs. A serial failure means repeat ‘business’, thus keeping them in jobs. And state pensions.

  7. IIRC the test gives multi-choice answers, which makes it easier than KT’s summary – and many of them are commonsense deduction ones. From memory:

    6 months
    50%
    True
    4 weeks
    4%
    Met
    Christmas pudding
    18 months of not being fired, much less of being paid
    1947
    True (is obviously the answer they’re looking for, although asking this as a T/F is pretty damn outrageous)
    True
    0.5%
    13
    £50

  8. “After how many months should an adult person receiving unemployment benefit join the New Deal programme?”

    Haven’t got a clue, but one assumes that the people down the DHSS would be able to tell you if it became relevant

    “What percentage of children live with both birth parents?”

    Probably about half.

    “There is concern in Britain over the age at which some young people start drinking. True or false?”

    There exists concern, yes. Personally, I’m quite concerned that they don’t start young enough.

    “A new born baby should be registered with The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths within how many weeks (in England and Wales)?”

    Six, I think

    “What percentage of the population live in Wales?”

    5%?

    “Which is the largest police force?”

    Probably the Met.

    “What Christmas dish is made from suet, dried fruit and spices?”

    Christmas Pudding. Mince Pies.

    “How much maternity leave can women take?”

    As much as they like, but if they take more than a certain amount, they might get sacked. I think the dastardly EU are trying to require them to take at least 6 weeks post-partum.

    “When did the European Union originate?”

    Maastricht? 1937 in Austria? 1918 in Versailles?

    “Compulsory testing gives parents a good indication of their children’s progress. True or false?”

    Obviously false

    “In the Old times The House of Lords was more powerful than The House of Commons. True or false?”

    True

    “What percentage of the UK population is Jewish?”

    Not much, unless you live in Golders Green

    “What is the earliest legal age for a children to do paid work?”

    Zero. Children can work as actors from birth, under somewhat strict conditions for the younger ones.

    “What is the highest denomination bank note in the UK?”

    £50 in general circulation.

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