Obscure questions stump PR applicants

Are you smarter than a PR seeker?


  • What was the code name for the U.S. naval base that was here from 1942-45?


  • Which institution in Cayman houses an animatronic doll?


  • What year did Cayman High School open?


  • At one point, Cayman packaged and exported what food item?


  • Who was the first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly?


  • Which Cayman fiddler appeared on the Grand Ole Opry?


  • Which poet represented Cayman at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London?


  • What year was Cayman Airways established?


  • In traditional houses, what was the name of the beam that was also used as a shelf?


  • What does kraal mean?

From turtle soup and famous fiddlers to obscure navy code names and the ingredients of heavy cake – the range of questions being posed to people seeking permanent residency has left some applicants wondering, “Are we being set up to fail?” 

Some foreign workers say they revised diligently on Cayman’s constitutional and political system but were confounded by obscure questions on the culture and history test. 

Currently, those seeking permanent residency are asked 20 questions about Cayman as part of the application process, with each correct answer worth one point toward the total required. Under reforms introduced by the current government, there will soon be 40 questions on the test, worth half a point each. 

Some of those who have taken the test believe the questions are unfair and say they were blind-sided by posers on quaint periods of the islands’ history, such as the brief period in 1915 when a turtle soup canning factory was in operation. 

Some of the more obscure questions, supplied to the Caymanian Compass by people who have taken the test, included the code name of the U.S. naval base that was here in the 1940s, the name of the poet who represented Cayman in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, and the type of beams that doubled as a shelf used in traditional Cayman houses. 

One person who took the test last month said he felt like he was being tripped up by trick questions. 

“While there were some questions in my test that could adequately gauge a person’s knowledge of important facts in Cayman’s history and culture, there were too many that I would consider very unfair, dealing with what seem like irrelevant or little-known facts that would prove incredibly difficult to study for.  

“I think the test should cover what Immigration says it covers – history, traditions, customs, heritage and culture – without seemingly trying to trip people up on impossible minutiae,” said the PR applicant. 

Another applicant said she had expected to be examined on significant periods of Cayman’s history, constitutional and political system. 

“Instead the test is predominated by questions so obscure and petty as to be risible. Will Cayman be a better place, for example, if permanent residents know which institution has a particular animatronic doll?” 

The applicant said she had put the questions to Caymanian friends, who had been equally clueless on many of the answers. 

The Compass took to the streets on Wednesday to pose five multiple choice questions from the test to born and bred Caymanians and current permanent resident holders. Of the 10 people interviewed, one person got three correct, the others got two or one, and many admitted they were guessing. 

No one was able to correctly identify the code name of the naval base. A handful knew that Radley Gourzong was the fiddler who appeared at the Grand Ole Opry. 

Lorna Bush, who has been involved in promoting cultural programs in the Cayman Islands, reviewed a selection of sample questions for the Compass and said she felt they needed to be revised. 

“For something as important as this, the questions should have more relevancy and in every case should have a clearly defined answer that can be referenced from a reliable source.” Roy Bodden, president of the University College of the Cayman Islands and author of several books on Cayman’s history, said he did not think the questions were too difficult. 

“I see nothing wrong with the questions. As someone who lived as an expatriate in another country, I find no significant level of difficulty between the questions asked for Cayman status and those required for citizenship in the United States or Canada. I will, however, grant that finding the information sources on Cayman may be a bit more daunting, but then these things are not meant to be easy,” he said. 

One distinction between the Cayman test and the U.S. test is that all the possible questions and answers for the U.S. test are available to applicants online to revise before they sit the exam. Applicants are asked 10 from a bank of 100 possible questions about the country’s history and constitution. 

Ms. Bush said she felt applicants in Cayman should have a similar opportunity to study possible questions. She said they should get a booklet on Cayman’s history covering all the potential questions and answers covered in the test – similar to the Road Code book for people taking the islands’ driving test. 

“The idea should be that we want those people who qualify to apply, to actually learn about Cayman,” she said. “It really shouldn’t be like an obstacle course trying to get the person knocked over before they are even given a chance.” 

Ms. Bush, speaking in a personal capacity, said the questions, as currently framed, are not sensible and many could have more than one answer. She believes they should be revamped using the expertise of the National Trust, Cayman National Cultural Foundation and others. 

Henry Muttoo, director of the National Cultural Foundation, said the questions were not too tricky, though he admitted there were a couple he did not know without researching the answers. 

He felt most answers would be available from the museum, the foundation or the National Gallery, but he endorsed the concept of a study guide for applicants.

Answers: Baldpate, the National Museum, 1949, turtle soup, Mary Evelyn Wood, Radley Gourzong, Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette, 1968, cross-piece, the basins/pens where turtles are kept.

* All these questions were supplied to the Caymanian Compass by people who have recently taken the permanent residence history and culture test. The actual test includes multiple choice options. The Immigration Department does not provide samples of potential questions and declined to respond to Compass requests for comment on this story.



  1. It is actually worth looking at the US test questions – http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/blinstst_new.htm

    The major difference between the those questions and the PR test is that in the USA they all relate to significant events in history or factors in the way the country is governed. They also cover matters that any current US citizen should be aware of. That makes them fair tests of a potential citizen’s understanding of the country they wish to live in because they deal with essential information that is common knowledge.

    In contrast the PR test questions seem to have been chosen at random and cover obscure matters that very few Caymanians have knowledge of. That by definition makes it an unfair, discriminatory test and one that sooner or later (and I am betting sooner) is going to land CIG in court.

    As the saying goes – The road to Hell is paved with good intentions corrupted by our fears. In this case the good, and understandable, intention is to weed out unsuitable applicants but that is being corrupted by blatant xenophobia.

  2. I am Caymanian. I had two excellent teachers of Caymanian history growing up-Mrs. Janilee Clifford Ms. Leonora Mendoza Hydes. Neither of those ladies ever taught me about the things on this test. I find Mr. Bodden’s comments ironic, since I used one of his books to help coach a PR applicant last year. She brought a poorly photocopied handout of facts about Cayman, that Immigration had provided her, to her lessons. None of the questions you listed were supplied there. I wonder how many Caymanian children, never mind adults, could pass this test. It’s unreasonable to expect foreigners to be better educated about this country than your own children. It’s another black eye for our education system.

  3. Well I got 4 right, though a couple were educated guesses (turtle soup and National Museum)but I went to school with Nasaria and was very proud of her when she went to represent Cayman and turtles and Cayman are joined at the hip and Kraal has been a word used often in books and pictures of the old days. However ther dates were beyond me, I was close with CAL though. So yeah a bit obscure for the average PR applicant.

  4. When you take US citizenship test,ALL questions are given to you beforehand. On the actual test you get 5-6 of those. No tricks there. Get the questions,find the answers, take the test.
    I agree with David Williams….someone went bananas creating the questions…
    The worst part is how it reflects on the image of Cayman Islands government…inept comes to mind..

  5. This is how it is done in US.
    There are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test, it tests your knowledge of U.S. history and government. During your naturalization interview, you will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. You must answer correctly six (6) of the 10 questions to pass the civics test.
    It tests: Principles of American Democracy; System of Government; Rights and Responsibilities; American History (When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? What movement tried to end racial discrimination?); Integrated Civics (Why does the flag have 13 stripes? When do we celebrate Independence Day? Name one state that borders Mexico).
    The 100 questions are published every year on US citizenship and Immigration services site.

  6. I am applying for PR shortly. Under the current point system for community service, you are awarded 2 points PER YEAR provided you have done more than 35 hours with-in that year. The last three years I have taught a small class at UCCI, amassing 6 points along the way. And a question about a beam that can also hold a cup of tea can hold as much weight as 20 hours of teaching your/maybe our kids? I get 2 of these questions wrong and that just made a year’s teaching null and void. Cheers!

  7. Why don’t they just ask the real question that matters of, How much money are you going to spend here? If you don’t answer that one right you automatically fail anyway. However, if you answer right and get all the others wrong I bet you still pass..

    Question 1: How much money are you going to spend here?
    Question 2: Can I have some of it ?
    Question 3: When can you make the transfer ?

    Answer these three correctly and you’re in there..

  8. That bozo who created these questions, confused citizenship test that should test Principles of Democracy; System of Government; Rights and Responsibilities with JEOPARDY.
    Also, all questions should be published and updated yearly to reflect changes.
    Forgot to mention about US citizenship test- all 100 questions that published on US citizenship and Immigration services site,come with answers. Read,remember and take the test.
    No ambush here.

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