What is the QTS Numeracy Skills Test?
The QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) Numeracy Skills Test is a requirement if you wish to work in teaching in the UK, at any level. Good numeracy skills are essential for effective teaching, and this is why so much emphasis is placed on completion of the numeracy skills test.
The test is not a measure of your ability to teach. It is an assessment of whether your numerical skills are sufficient to work in a teaching role.
The test takes approximately 48 minutes to complete and is usually taken on a computer. The first attempt at the test is free, but any subsequent re-takes incur a fee. The questions are divided into two distinct sections. The first will evaluate your abilities in mental arithmetic and the second will assess your skills in written arithmetic and data analysis.
Where Will You Sit the Test?
Sections of the QTS Numeracy Skills Test
Let’s examine in detail how the two sections of the numeracy skills test are different.
Section 1: Mental Arithmetic
The 12 questions in this section are audio-based and read out to you, so you will need to use a set of headphones (these are provided for you). The first question is for practice only and will not contribute to your overall mark. Each of the other 12 questions is worth one mark.
The aim of this section is to identify how well you can do mental calculations using a pen and paper. Consequently using a calculator is forbidden.
Before sitting the test, it’s worth brushing up your your skills in these areas:
- Decimals, percentages and fractions
- Measurements such as area, volume, money and distance
- The basics of addition, multiplication, subtraction and division
Each question will be read out to you twice and you will need to carry out the necessary calculations and then enter your answer within 18 seconds. It is a very short space of time so optimum speed is the key to success in this test.
One thing to also bear in mind: when you sit this test you will be compared with other candidates in terms of time taken to answer each question. Though you should avoid the urge to be as fast as possible: accuracy over speed is always preferable.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you find the prospect of this test particularly daunting, there are several things that you can do to refine your technique and enhance your numerical skills. The best way that you can improve on any skill is to practice. Complete as many practice tests as you can because they bring a number of benefits.
Firstly, they allow you to familiarise yourself with the format of the test. This will not only boost your confidence but also enhance your competence. Being relaxed can have a significant bearing on your success.
Secondly, practice tests typically provide explanations at the end to indicate which questions you answered correctly and incorrectly. This feedback will help you to understand any areas where you went wrong, so you can focus on your weaker areas.
Practice as often as you can, typically for around half an hour a day, for two weeks before your actual numeracy skills test.
Section 2: Written Numerical Data
The questions within the second section of the test are delivered in a different format. Rather than being read out to you, they are displayed on a screen. You will have a total of 36 minutes to answer all 16 questions in this part.
This section will aim to evaluate a number of key skills including:
- Comparing information and reaching conclusions
- Identifying patterns and trends
- Interpreting written numerical data
In this section you can use a calculator to help you work out your answers. Using graphs, tables and charts, you will be assessed on the following areas of numeracy:
- Fractions, Decimals and Percentages
- Ratio and Proportions
- Measurement such as area and distance
- Averages including median, mean and mode
To prepare for this section, familiarise yourself with reading and interpreting data. Note also that the format of the questions can vary. As an example, question one may be multiple choice, while question two may require you to type in your answer. Sometimes this type of test can prove more challenging because you have to adapt your technique to address the style of the question.
Sample Question: Mental Arithmetic
A school is hoping to revise the school day to enhance the quality of learning. Each school day comprises 5 sessions of 60 minutes each, a morning break of 15 minutes and lunchtime of 30 minutes.
Question: If the school starts at 08:40 what time will the school day finish? Provide your answers using the 24-hour clock.
Answer: To work this question out you would need to multiply each 60 minute session by 5 to reach 5 hours. You would then need to add a 15-minute morning break and the 30-minute lunch break. The total school day would last 5 hours 45 minutes. So the school day would finish at 14:25.
Sample Question: Numerical Data
Question: A class raised £30 for charity by collecting 20p coins. How many 20p coins were collected?
Answer: To work out this question you would need to divide £30.00 by £0.20 to reach the answer of 150 x 20p coins.
Key Tips For Taking The Test
When the question is read out in Part 1, note down the key pieces of information, but don’t panic if you miss something. The question will be repeated. As soon as you have the required information start working on your answer, and if possible begin working on your answer while the question is being read out the second time. If you cannot answer the question, provide a suitable answer and try to clear your head in preparation for the next question. It is not a requirement to get every question right.
Follow the instructions for the test very carefully. Some questions may state that you should provide your answer to the nearest whole number, while another may require you to use the 24 hour clock. Don’t lose marks by failing to understand the question.
In Part 2, the on-screen section of the test, monitor your time carefully. Try to answer the easiest questions first. You can always return to any that you still need to complete at the end of the test. Don’t spend too long on each question.
Read each of the statements thoroughly, and ensure that you are providing the correct answers rather than providing what you think they are asking.
Once the test is complete you will receive a printout of your results, which will indicate whether you have passed or failed.
Key Tips For Practice Beforehand
It is strongly recommended that you refresh your skills on the key areas of numeracy, focusing on your weakest areas.
It would also be beneficial to review glossaries of numerical terms. Although you won’t be tested on these definitions, they may help you prepare for the test.
Accessing practice tests online will allow you to accustom yourself to the format of the test and revise different areas.
When answering the questions it is important to understand:
- Numbers cannot be entered in written form. For example the number 2 cannot be written in the test as two.
- Not to include anything other than your answer in the answer box.
- Decimals should be entered using the full stop for the decimal point.
- You don’t need to include units such as % if this has already been supplied.
- Speed and accuracy are essential in this test.
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