If you want to achieve qualified teacher status in the UK, you need to pass the QTS numeracy and literacy skills tests.
The numeracy skills test is divided into two sections: mental arithmetic and written arithmetic. You must pass both sections to be eligible for qualified teacher status.
Tips for the Mental Arithmetic Section of the QTS Numeracy Skills Test
In the mental arithmetic test, you will listen to questions via headphones and solve them without using a calculator. The test contains 12 questions and each one has an individual time limit, so you need to get used to working quickly. You can jot down notes if they help you solve the questions, but you don’t get extra marks for clearly showing your working. Use these tips to help you succeed in the mental arithmetic assessment:
- Use a timer to practice solving questions quickly.
- Get a friend to ask you questions so you can get used to listening to spoken instructions, rather than reading the questions.
- Practice regularly. Many people find mental arithmetic stressful, so it’s vital to get into the habit of doing it regularly to overcome your fear.
- During the test, you’ll hear each question twice. The first time you hear it, jot down key figures so you have all the information you need to solve the question.
“A class contains 30 students; 25 are boys. What fraction are girls?”
When you hear this question, write down the information: 30 students and 25 boys. Next, you need to work out how many girls are in the class: 30 – 25 = 5. Place 5 over 30 to make a fraction and simplify it to find the answer: 1/6.
Tips for the Written Section of the QTS Numeracy Skills Test
The written section of the QTS assessment contains 16 questions. These questions will appear on the screen and you can move between them by pressing “next” or “previous”. You can solve the questions in any order you like and go back and change your answers if you realise you made a mistake. You are also allowed to use an on-screen calculator to help you.
- Try to spend only two minutes on each question. If you’re still stuck after two minutes, guess an answer and move on, so you have time to finish the rest of the questions.
- Don’t leave any answer fields blank. Many of the questions are multiple choice, so it’s always worth guessing one of the options.
- Read each question twice. It’s very easy to misread the instructions and work out the solution to a different question, which won’t get you any points.
- If you have time left at the end, go back to questions you found difficult and check your working.
- Practice using an on-screen calculator when preparing for the test.
- Practice working with percentages, fractions and decimals, which all feature in the test.
“In a class of 40 students, 50% achieved level 3, 30% level 4, 15% level 5 and 5% level 6. How many students achieved level 4 or above?”
This question is easy to misread. It asks for the number (not the percentage) of students that achieved levels 4, 5, or 6 (not just level 4).
To solve this question, sum the percentages for levels 4, 5 and 6 to make 50%. Multiply 40 by 0.5 to get the answer: 20 students.
Practice Makes Perfect
The more you practice QTS questions, the better your arithmetic skills will be. For more help with starting your career as a teacher, use our interview guide to brush up your skills.