1. (170) Which of the statements below about the United Kingdom's population is FALSE?
Answer: (D) Britain faces a population explosion with the arrival of increasing numbers of immigrants.
Explanation: Britain is both a popular destination for immigrants and a country from which many people emigrate, in particular to European countries like France and Spain (often to retire), and the Commonwealth or USA, consequently its population is rising fairly slowly. In 2006, official statistics revealed that 5.5 million Britons now live permanently abroad. Nonetheless, the Population of the UK has risen from 58m to 60m since 2001 due to immigration and the increased birth rate. Between 2004 and 2006, 600,000 people immigrated to the UK from central and eastern Europe alone for work (source Wikipedia).The number of people in the UK who were born overseas has doubled since 1951 to 8.3 per cent of the population - nearly 5 million residents.
2. (70) Which exam do school students in England and Wales take at the age of 16?
Answer: (B) GCSE
Explanation: GCSE = General Certificate of Secondary Education, Students take this at 16, when students can choose to leave school, if they want, or continue to take AS and A Levels (Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced Levels, taken at ages 17 and 18 respectively) necessary for entry to higher education (e.g. university).
A Bachelor of Arts (BA), is the basic degree in humanities subjects (e.g. English, History, Geography) given by a university in England or Wales. It normally corresponds to three years of study. Students of sciences take: Bachelors of Science (B.Sc); of Engineering (B.Eng); of Education (B.Ed); etc.
SAT = Standardised Assessment Tests. Test imposed by the DES on school students at the ages of 7,11 and 14, to monitor their, and their teacher's/school's, progress.
(see Storry et al 2003: 75-79)
3. (140) Which of the below is NOT usually a type of fee-paying school?
Answer: (A) State School
Explanation: A State School is part of the State (national) system and is thus free. A Private School is a fee paying independent (non-State) school. Public schools in the UK (everywhere else the term 'public' is used to mean a normal State funded, non-fee paying, school) were set up in medieval times as charities to provide education for the poor - a role they have long since renounced. Ironically, these Public Schools (Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Westminster, Rugby, Shrewsbury etc.) are the elite of the Independent schools and are more prestigious than private schools. Boarding Schools are those in which students live during term-time. These are normally single sex (boys or girls) and fee-paying (i.e. Independent: either Public or Private).
4. (100) Which of the below is the UK's second city in terms of population?
Answer: (D) Birmingham
Explanation: Birmingham in the Midlands of England is often referred to as Britain's "second city" (See Storry et al 2003: 50), a title meaning that it is second in importance to the capital London. The population in 2001 of Birmingham and its surrounding conurbation (the metropolitan county of the West Midlands) was 2,628m (compared to Greater London's 7,268m).
Glasgow in the south west of Scotland is known as Scotland's second city (the capital being Edinburgh). In fact, it is the largest city in Scotland. In 2001, Glasgow and its conurbation had a population of 1,590m.
Manchester in the north west of England has often disputed Birmingham's claim to be second city. In 2001 the population of Manchester's conurbation (Greater Manchester) was 2,596m. According to a recent BBC survey (February 2007), 48% of people in Britain regard Manchester as second only in importance to London compared to 40% for Birmingham.
Oxford, historically one of the largest cities in England and seat of one of the world's most important universities, is today relatively modest in size and no longer one of the major British cities. In 2001, its population was 134,248.
(See Storry et al. 2003: 51 - figure for Oxford from Wikipedia)
5. (20) Which of the counties below was created in 1975 when the ancient boundaries of British counties were redrawn?
Answer: (B) Powys
Explanation: Powys, in central Wales, covers the old counties of Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, and most of Breconshire. (see Storry et al 2003: 54 and map p. 38).
Fife is the one county in Scotland which, because of public protest, was not renamed as a region in the 1975 reform. (see Storry et al. 2003: 55 and map p. 38).
Lancashire and Kent are traditional counties and still exist. Lancashire borders onto the east of Yorkshire (its ancient rival). It lost a great deal of its territory and population to the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester in the south, and to Cumbria in the north.
Kent is an old Anglo-Saxon (Jute) Kingdom to the south east of London. It is the part of Britain closest to the mainland of Europe. It was relatively unaltered in 1975.
6. (90) The most famous Scottish universities differ from those in England and Wales in that:
Answer: (B) degree courses last four years. The basic degree in humanities is a Master's Degree not a Bachelor's.
Explanation: The so-called ancient universities of Scotland (i.e. St Andrew's, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh) are among the oldest in Europe, and the World. They are internationally renowned. Scotland's education system has remained separate form that of England and Wales. At the four ancient universities of Scotland and at Dundee, a basic degree lasts four years - the first year being a general foundation year - and leads, in a Humanities course, directly to a Master's Degree.
Explanation: Gloucestershire is a county in south western England (see picture in Storry et al. 2002: 49). 'Shire' is a common ending for counties, normally when it is named after the county town (e.g. Gloucester for Gloucestershire, but Canterbury for Kent)
Northern Ireland is a province of the United Kingdom on the island of Ireland. It is made up of the six counties of Ireland which did not join the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland or Eire) in 1922.
Liverpool is a city and port in North West England.
The Isle of Man is a crown dependency (autonomous part of the UK) in the Irish Sea halfway between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
(See map in Storry et al. 2003: 38)
8. (120) Which of the below is NOT a specific category of school in the British compulsory education system?
Answer: (D) Language school
Explanation: A Language School is typically a private institution not providing compulsory education across the whole curriculum to children between the ages of 5 and 16 (18).
A Faith School is a school run by a religious group (e.g. The Anglican or Catholic Church, the Jewish, Hindu or Muslim community). It is officially recognised, but is not be part of the State system although it may be state-supported (i.e. receiving state funds to pay for buildings etc.). Part of he curriculum will reflect the religious beliefs of the school governors and most of the students will be of that same faith. (See Storry et al. 2003: 77)
A State School is a school run as part of the State (i.e. national) System and funded through the Department for Education and Skills DES (the ministry of education), either directly or via the Local Education Authority LEA).
An Independent School is recognised by the DES but is funded privately. Most students are fee-paying and, within reason, the school can choose who goes there or not and has more freedom in choosing the kind of curriculum to follow.
9. (50) What are England, Wales and Scotland, together with small adjacent islands, collectively known as?
Answer: (C) Great Britain
Explanation: The term 'United Kingdom' covers Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
'British Isles' covers Great Britain and Ireland.
'Great Britain' covers the island of Britain and adjacent islands (e.g. Isle of Man, Isle of Wight, The Shetlands), but not Northern Ireland, which is on the island of Ireland. (Ireland and Great Britain, together are usually called the "British Isles", although some in Ireland object to this term because Ireland is not British. Suggested alternatives have included 'the Isles', 'the Islands of the North Atlantic", or most simply: "Great Britain and Ireland")
'Britain' is only the island itself: England, Scotland and Wales, but not any of the small islands around it.
10. (30) Who or what in the United Kingdom is said to "reign but not rule"?
Answer: (B) The Queen
Explanation: The Queen has supreme authority in the UK and people such as the Prime Minster can act only on her authority, not their own. However sovereignty in the UK lies with the "Queen in Parliament", meaning that the Monarch must act only through Parliament, and Parliament only through the Monarch, the two being mutually dependant. The Queen must take no part in politics or government. If she did, she would lose the support of Parliament, and thus lose constitutional legitimacy. The last monarch to do this was (Catholic) James II. Consequently, certain Government Ministers offered the crown to his distant (Protestant) cousin Princess Mary, whose husband Prince William of Orange and Nassau was a feared Dutch (and Protestant) general. William and Mary took over Britain in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. Before then, Charles I had fought a civil war with Parliament (1642 - 1649), over the issue of who had supreme authority. He lost and was executed and Britain was a commonwealth (a kind of republic) for 11 years under Oliver Cromwell. In the current system, among other things, the Monarch ensures stability and continuity and, in theory at least, prevents powerful figures, like prime ministers, becoming dictators.
11. (10) Which of the below is different from the others?
Answer: (C) Eton College
Explanation: Eton College is a Public School (fee-paying and independent) for boys aged 13-18, founded in 1440 by Henry VI. St Andrew's, the London School of Economics and Queen's College Belfast are all institutions of higher education (universities or university faculties)
The University of St Andrew's in Fife (Scotland) is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. It was set up in 1410-1413. Prince William studied for his degree there.
The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), set up as an independent college in 1895. Since 1900, it has been a faculty of economics within the University of London. It has an international reputation in the social sciences.
Queen's University Belfast, is the oldest university in Northern Ireland, set up in 1845 by Queen Victoria together with Queen's College Galway and Queen's College Cork. The three were joined in 1850 to form the Queen's University of Ireland. In 1908 this was divided into Queen's University Belfast and the National University of Ireland.
12. (160) The "Home Office" in the UK is the ministry responsible for which of the below?
Answer: (A) Internal (British) affairs, immigration and public security.
Explanation: "Home" here means domestic, i.e. national, as opposed to foreign. The Home Office corresponds to the Interior Ministry of many countries. The minister for this department is called the Home Secretary.
The Defence and the Armed Forces (The Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) come under the Ministry of Defence.
Foreign Policy and International Relations come under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Commonwealth referring to relations with countries which are members of the Commonwealth of Nations: i.e. mostly ex-British possessions, territories and dominions).
Relations with the European Union also come under the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (whose head is the Foreign Secretary), although there is a specific minister who handles European Union affairs and relations with the rest of Europe: The Minister of State for Europe.
13. (130) Which of the below is NOT generally considered to be a recurrent trait in British society?
Answer: (C) Love of children and centrality of family life.
Explanation: In Britain, family life is much less central than in other countries and children tend to leave home and live on their own as soon as they can. The British have a generally Spartan attitude to children, believing that showing too much affection towards a child is ultimately bad for him or her. This refusal to be sentimental about children can border on intolerance: signs outside shops, restaurants etc, such as "no dogs or children" are still found, although less commonplace nowadays. In a recent UNICEF survey (2007), the UK came bottom out of 21 developed countries in the quality of children's life. The USA came 20th; Italy 8th; the top place going to the Netherlands.
Britons are, for whatever reason, more fond of and sentimental about their pets and animals in general. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA - the first in the world) was set up in 1824 (at a time when children were still employed in dangerous jobs). A corresponding society for children - The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Children (NSPCC) was not founded until 1884.
Generally the British are conservative and respecters of tradition and are unwilling to change anything unless they can be convinced that the reform is an improvement. Having said this, British society in the last twenty years has undergone some of the most profound changes of any in Western Europe.
For Britons, individuality is central, and individual rights and tastes often take precedence over those of the majority. At an extreme, this individualism becomes eccentricity, which is generally tolerated, even celebrated, in British Society, provided that it takes an innocuous form.
Allied to the concept of individualism, is the rejection of authority. People dislike being told what to do by the government or public officials. The general feeling, is that government must be by general consent and people should do things through a sense of public duty rather than obligation. For this reason, a British citizen / subject has fewer obligations towards authority than in many other countries: for example, even now, there is still no obligation for members of the public to carry identification papers or other documentation (but it is current Government policy to introduce a national identity card). Furthermore, things like "residency certificates" do not exist.
(See Storry et al. 2003: 11-12; 21).
14. (110) Which of the below would a typical student in Britain go to from the ages of 5-11?
Answer: (D) Primary School
Explanation: A Primary School is the first stage of compulsory education. It is divided into two sections: Infant (ages 5-7), and Junior (ages 8-11). (See Storry et al. 75-78).
A Nursery School is a pre-school institution (ages 2/3-5). It is not compulsory in England, and often such schools are privately run and very expensive. Places in non-fee paying nursery schools can be hard to qualify for. (See Storry et al. 75-78)
A Secondary School is usually the school a student goes to after primary school from the ages (12-16/18 - see Storry et al. 75-78), although in some areas, separate Middle Schools may exist (ages 8-12 / 9-13).
A High School is a type of secondary school and a name used by some individual institutions. It is an archaic term used by some long-established schools that are now in the State system, although, in the US education system, this is the common term for a secondary school.
Answer: (B) The UK's largest "new town". For many, the symbol of the anonymity of such developments.
Explanation: Milton Keynes is a new town 45 miles/75 km north-west of London (see Storry 2003:60-61). It has 180,000 inhabitants. Rightly or not, it has a reputation for blandness, artificiality and lack of character.
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was a charismatic and brilliant British economist. He was very influential in shaping the economic policies of many Western Governments both before, during and after World War II. Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was a US Economist and Nobel Laureate (1976) who advocated free market capitalism.
Melton Mowbray, for example, is a small market town in Leicestershire which "still suggest[s] the traditions of the English countryside" (see Storry et al 2003:60).
There are a great many "celebrity chefs" on British TV, such as Delia Smith, Aisnley Harriot, and Jamie Oliver (see Storry et al 2003: 280).
16. (40) Which of these parts of the UK is NOT regarded as a traditionally "Celtic" area?
Answer: (D) Yorkshire
Explanation: Yorkshire is in the North West of England. Though originally Celtic (like the rest of the British Isles), the Celts there were displaced by the Anglo-Saxons. It was part of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. From 800 AD, it was an area of many Viking settlements, even a Viking kingdom, Jórvik (periodically from 875-954 AD).
Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall, together with the Scottish Highlands and Islands are all on the western side of Britain in isolated or mountainous areas, where the Celts were not displaced by the Anglo-Saxons, who had started to invade and settle in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
(see map in Storry et al. 2003: 38 - Cornwall is the most south-westerly point of England)
17. (190) Which of the below is the popular name for someone from Liverpool?
Answer: (A) A Scouse(r)
Explanation: People from the city and port of Liverpool are called Scouses or Scousers, supposedly from a type of meat and potato stew eaten by sailors called 'lobscouse'. (See Storry et al. 2003:48)
A Geordie is someone from Newcastle and Tyneside in the North East of England on the North Sea, famous as a coal port, supposedly from a type of mining lamp invented by George Stephenson (who also invented the first steam train). (See Storry et al. 2003:48)
A Brummie is someone from Birmingham in the West Midlands (See Storry et al 2003: 50), supposedly from 'Brummagem' the old dialect name for the town.
A Taffy, is someone from Wales from the Welsh first name 'Dafydd' ('David'), cf: 'Jock' for a Scotsman, or 'Paddy' for an Irishman.
Answer: (B) An ancient Welsh annual festival of music, literature and performance (in Welsh).
Explanation: The Royal National Eisteddfod (a barding or poetry competition), dating from 1861, is the main cultural event in Wales and has played a major part in reviving the Welsh language, and nationalism. It lasts a week and is held in a different town or village every year. Much of the ceremony recalls the rituals of the druids. (See Storry et al. 2003: 47; 221)
Notting Hill carnival in London is a mainly - but not exclusively - West Indian three-day street festival. Started in 1959 as an exercise in race relations (as an indoor event held in St Pancreas Town Hall!), it is now the one of the largest street festivals in Europe. In its most successful year, 2002, almost 1.5m people took part (source: Wikipedia).
Since 1836, The Grand National Horse race has been run every year in April at the Aintree Race Course in Liverpool. The prize money is higher than any other race of its kind and it is very popular with sports fans (and people who like to bet) because the result is so hard to predict due to the difficulty of the course (which includes many jumps) and the fact that many horses - or at least their riders - fail to finish.
Since 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival has been held for three weeks in August and performers of all kinds come from all over the world. 10 other festivals take place in Edinburgh at the same time, including the Fringe, which features more avant-garde and unconventional acts. The Edinburgh Fringe is now more popular than the International festival, indeed it is said to be the largest arts festival in the world.
19. (200) Which of the statements about UK universities below is FALSE?
Answer: (C) Any student who leaves school with a leaving (matriculation) certificate has a guaranteed place at university.
Explanation: In the UK, students typically apply to universities in their final year of secondary school through a computerised national system known as the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS - www.ucas.com). Students must complete a single UCAS form which allows them a choice of six universities and courses. The universities then contact students rejecting their application or accepting it, usually conditionally (i.e. on condition that they get the required exam grades in their A Level exams). Students who fail to get into one of the courses they had originally applied for can apply to other universities after they have received their exam results in July or August through the clearing system whereby students who have not found a place can apply for courses on which their are still places available. Many students get into a university this way. (See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UCAS)
For discussion of graduation rate at UK universities see Storry et al p.82)
20. (150) Which of these parts of the UK does NOT have its own legislative assembly?
Answer: (A) England
Explanation: Strange as it may seem, England is the only part of the United Kingdom which is ruled directly from Westminster: the UK Parliament. There is no legislative assembly that covers England alone (nor has there ever been, seeing that in the middle ages Wales was treated as a province of England).
Scotland, once an independent state, had its own unicameral parliament (the Estates of Scotland) until full political Union with England in 1707. This was reinstated, with more limited powers, in 1999 after a referendum on devolution (1997) and is called the "Scottish Parliament". Scotland stills sends representatives to the UK Parliament in Westminster, which retains authority for areas like Defence, Foreign Policy, etc.
Wales, never a sovereign state with its own parliament (since 1282, a principality incorporated into the Kingdom of England), has had a "National Assembly of Wales" since 1999 after a referendum (1997). It has fewer powers than the Scottish Parliament.
After the partition of Ireland in 1921, Northern Ireland was partly governed through a "Parliament of Northern Ireland" and partly through the UK Parliament. In 1972, parliament in Northern Ireland was suspended due to "the troubles" and direct rule from Westminster was imposed. In 1998, as part of the peace accords, the "Northern Ireland Assembly", with a new voting system, was set up. Since then there have been frequent suspensions due to the inability of political parties to form executives. Currently, there is direct rule from Westminster, but elections to the Assembly were held in 1998 and 2003 and 2007. There have been repeated attempts, backed by the British and Irish Governments and the European Union, to devolve power to Belfast. After the 2007 elections a historic power-sharing agreement was reached between the old enemies DUP and Sinn Fein. Consequently, devolution returned to Northern Ireland on 8th May 2007 and the Assembley sat again. (For general details on the countries / provinces of the UK and devolution, see Storry et al. 2003: 37-48)