Ask Tes Institute: how to prepare for numeracy and literacy Professional skills tests

Ask Tes Institute: how to prepare for numeracy and literacy Professional skills tests

Regardless of the route you choose to take, to train to be a teacher - it is compulsory for all trainees to complete the combined numeracy and literacy professional skills test prior to their teacher training programme. The first attempt is free and can be completed once an offer of ITT has been accepted, failing that you are allowed two further tries before incurring a 24-month wait to re-sit – so it is certainly worth trying a few different practise tests.

The Professional skills tests comprise of both a numeracy test (mental and written arithmetic) and a literacy test, and the below information will help guide your preparation and ensure a successful result.

Numerical Skills

You have 48 minutes to complete the maths element of the test which is made up of two sections:

Section one: mental arithmetic is delivered via headphones and consists of 12 questions, each one being read twice.

Section two: written arithmetic focuses on graphs and charts and is made up of 16 questions that expect you to identify trends correctly, make comparisons in order to draw conclusions and interpret information accurately. You may use an off-screen calculator to make calculations.

There are many examples of the numeracy test online to help you practise, with some of the key places to look including:

  • The Department of Education online practise tests (DfE) 
  • This DfE information sheet giving specifics about the exam
  • This YouTube video, which gives tips to make solving mental arithmetic equations a breeze! 


Literacy Test

You have 45 minutes to complete the literacy test, which is made up of four components: an audio based Spelling section, a Punctuation exercise, a Grammar and a Comprehension section.

To practise for the literacy test we recommend taking a look through the resources below:

Booking your skills test

When you feel sufficiently well prepared, the test can be taken at your nearest learndirect centre - remember of course that if a test is difficult this is reflected in the pass mark, so don’t be disheartened if it has been particularly hard. All that remains to be said is good luck and once you have passed the test you will be able to proceed onto your teaching training course!