Study Techniques and Tips
Studying for any test can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Read our tried and tested techniques from successful students who have already passed their Life in the UK test.
For people preparing for the Life in the UK Test there are some simple methods and tips that can help make the task much more simple. The test is not designed to be straightforward, but with a sensible plan and application you can help achieve the result you want.
If you are able to find a study partner then this can help motivate and assist your learning. Get friends and family to test you on revision questions and vocabulary. Regular use and discussion of the materials will help keep your mind alert and will give you an idea as to how much you really know – you should expect some specific questions on facts or statistics given in the book, as well as more general questions.
We do understand that studying may not be that simple, however. This is why we have put together the below advice to help you in your preparations.
The first step
Studying is not a natural skill for most people. This means that you have to work at it. It can seem like there is too much for you to do, especially with all of the other things you have to do in your life. So it may sound simple, but the first thing to do is to pick up the study materials and have a look at what you have to learn. Knowing how much there is to do is the first step towards doing it.
Planning your time
One of the best things you can do to help yourself prepare is plan your study and give yourself time to cover all of the material. We often receive feedback from people who have only started studying a day or two before the test, or who have only taken practice tests and not read the study materials, who are surprised that they failed.
To stop this happening to you make an achievable schedule for your studies before you begin and stick to it. For instance, if you start two weeks before the test you can read one chapter a day. You can then use four days to review the material, focusing on any sections that you are unsure of. You can use the remaining time to take practice tests. The advantage of a schedule like this is that you can also take a couple of days off if you feel like you need a break. See the section on stress below!
The above is just a suggested schedule and will not work for everyone. You may have a job with a shift pattern, or a lot of family commitments that makes this impossible. You should carefully consider how much time you can give up to studying and plan around your prior commitments.
Keeping your time free
Once you have made your plan you should make sure that your friends and family are aware of it, and respect it. You should ask your friends and family not to disturb you whilst you are studying. This can be easier said than done, especially if you have young children! However, the test is a very important step for you and your family should try and help you as much as possible.
Ways of studying
Everyone learns best in a different way, and you will know better than anyone else what works best for you. Some key techniques are useful for every person.
Take notes – Take notes as you read the materials. Whilst the materials are already organised and written out the process of taking notes helps you to remember things. It can be worth making your own notes about complicated topics in a way that is easy for you to understand, as the explanation given in the books may not be the most natural for you.
Work with someone else – In the same way that taking notes helps, explaining them to someone else also helps you to remember. If you can clearly remember and explain the topics in the book then you understand them for the test.
Also, if you have someone who is able to help you then they can test you on facts and figures once you have finished a section. This can be more productive than just taking practice tests as the dialogue will be more memorable than just reading something.
Record yourself – This may sound strange, but if you have a smartphone, or a computer and a microphone, then you can record yourself reading the materials and then listen to them whilst working, traveling or doing other things. If you can cope with the sound of your own voice, this is another way of studying the material!
Your working environment
You should make sure that you work in a well lit and ventilated area. Reading in poor light can give you headaches and make it harder to take in information. Fresh air will also help keep you alert and able to focus. You should also try and study away from distractions such as phones and televisions.
Have something to drink with you as well, or perhaps a snack, if you think you are likely to get hungry or thirsty. It is surprising how much time can be spent making tea instead of studying!
It is very important to avoid getting stressed when studying. If you try and study when you are stressed you will achieve very little, other than making yourself more stressed! It can be all too easy to read a page several times and not understand it – this is often because you are stressed, and not because the page is too difficult to understand.
If you are finding it difficult to concentrate, or can feel yourself getting stressed then take a break – have a cup of tea, take a quick walk, do something relaxing. You should find it a lot easier to focus afterwards.
You should also try and avoid studying straight after work, a long journey, having done lots of housework, or any other prolonged activity. You should always give yourself time to take a break after something like this so you can face the next task refreshed.
Once you have been through the study materials you should consider taking some practice tests. Practice tests can be found in the back of the Life in the UK Test: Study Guide, or on the CD ROM if you have bought that version. You can also subscribe to online tests on this website – online tests – which will let you take as many as you want. The full practice tests are randomly drawn from a bank of over 1500 questions and will help you prepare for the experience of the exam as well as test your knowledge.
You should make a note of the questions you get wrong and which chapters they come from. If you do this then you can focus your revision on the chapters which you have found difficult and make your efforts more productive.
One the day of the exam there is no ‘right’ way to prepare, or one set of things to do, to make sure you are prepared. There are some things that everyone can do to help themselves though, and they are:
- Get a good night’s sleep before the test
- Make sure you have had something to eat and drink beforehand
- Check where the test centre is the day before and give yourself plenty of time to get there
- Don’t panic! 45 minutes is enough time to read each question carefully.