If you have applied for an initial teacher training degree or PGCE in Early Years, Primary or Secondary Education for September 2019 entry, you will need to pass national Professional Skills Tests in literacy and numeracy as part of the admissions process, in line with Government policy.
The Professional Skills Tests enable you to demonstrate that you have the basic levels of literacy and numeracy required to teach to a national standard. The tests do not assess either your knowledge of the curriculum or how to teach.
The key to passing the tests is plenty of preparation and practice. On these pages we’ll explain the format of the tests, how to prepare, how to book and what to do if you need to resit.
Please note, the Professional Skills Tests will be replaced at the end of this recruitment cycle. Details of the replacement for the tests are still to be announced, however they will be benchmarked against a defined set of English and Mathematics skills that students will be expected to have by the end of the course (rather than at the point of entry).
- About The Tests – find out in more detail what the literacy and numeracy tests will involve;
- Preparation and Support – complete online practice tests and benefit from free support sessions;
- How to Book – discover how to register with learndirect and book the Professional Skills Tests at your preferred test centre;
- Sitting The Tests – find out what to expect on the day, how you’ll receive your results and what to do if you need to resit either test.
About The Tests
What does the literacy test involve?
Each literacy test will have a maximum score of between 45-49 marks. There are four distinct sections within each test.
- Spelling is worth 10 marks and comprises of a ten-word spelling test which you will listen to via the headphones provided. A non-audio, multiple-choice format is available for the hearing impaired. The words tested are those which you could reasonably be expected to use in the role of a teacher;
- Punctuation carries 15 marks and tests your ability to understand and apply punctuation rules by inserting essential punctuation into a piece of writing;
- Grammar is worth 10-12 marks and tests your ability to identify text that doesn’t conform to correct grammatical practice. The aim is to distinguish between text which makes sense and clearly conveys its intended meaning and text that does not. You will not be tested on your knowledge of grammatical terms but on your knowledge of how to use grammar correctly;
- Comprehension carries 10-12 marks and presents you with extracts from websites and national newspapers, as well as documents published by schools and governing bodies. You will be asked to identify the key points, distinguish between facts and opinions, and make inferences and deductions as you re-work, organise and re-structure this information.
You will have a total of 45 minutes to complete the literacy test.
Further information about the literacy tests is available on the Department for Education website.
What does the numeracy test involve?
Each numeracy test contains 28 questions, consisting of 12 mental arithmetic questions and 16 written arithmetic or written data questions. There is also a practice question which will not be scored. All of the questions carry one mark regardless of the number of responses required.
- Mental Arithmetic Questions take the format of an audio test which you will listen to via the headphones provided. You will be played each question twice. Each answer must be provided within a fixed time limit of 18 seconds. You are not allowed to use a calculator but will be given some paper in case you wish to make notes;
- Written Arithmetic/Written Data Questions feature longer questions with accompanying graphs or diagrams. You will be asked to identify trends, make comparisons and interpret information accurately. An on-screen, four-function calculator is available to assist you.
You will have a total of 48 minutes to complete the numeracy test.
Further information about the numeracy tests is available on the Department for Education website.
At what level are the tests set?
The length of the tests and questions are appropriate for key skills level 2/3.
You should note, however, that the tests do not replace any GCSE entry requirements. Equivalency programmes and standalone tests are available for GCSE English, GCSE Mathematics and GCSE Science if required.
You may also be asked to complete literacy and numeracy exercises at interview. Any such tasks are independent of the Professional Skills Tests.
Preparation and Support
Interactive practice tests are available on the Department for Education website. You can register to access the practice tests at practice.skillstestbooking.com. Click the link marked ‘Initial Registration’ at the bottom of the page to begin the registration process.
You are strongly advised to practise the tests to familiarise yourself with the functionality of the system and the format and presentation of the questions. The practice tests also provide an opportunity to revise the different content areas. You should try all of the practice tests several times until you can pass them comfortably.
- BOND, B., 2017. Getting Into Teaching Training: Passing Your Skills Tests and Succeeding in Your Application. Third edition. California: Achieving QTS Series, Learning Matters Ltd;
- GOWERS, E., 2004. The Complete Plain Words. Third revised edition. Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher;
- JOHNSON, J and BOND, B., 2018. Passing the Literacy Skills Test. Fifth edition. California: Achieving QTS Series, Learning Matters Ltd.
- MEDWELL, J, WRAY, D and MOORE, G., 2017. Primary English: Knowledge and Understanding. Eighth edition. California: Learning Matters Ltd;
- PATMORE, M., 2018. Passing the Numeracy Skills Test. Seventh edition. California: Achieving QTS Series, Learning Matters Ltd.
- PECK, J. and COYLE, M., 2012. The Student’s Guide to Writing: Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling. Third edition. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Department for Education: Literacy Skills Test Guide | Numeracy Skills Test Guide
- Assessment Centre HQ: Literacy Skills Test Guide | Numeracy Skills Test Guide
- BBC Skillswise: English | Maths
- HowToBecome.com: Passing the Literacy Skills test: Difficult Spellings
- QTSSkillsTests.com: Numeracy Skills Test Resources and Topic Guides
Lots of videos with advice and tips on completing the Professional Skills Tests can also be found on You Tube.
How to Book
You can register with learndirect and book your tests at skillstestbooking.com up to three months in advance of your preferred test date(s). Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis so early booking is advised.
It is not necessary to have applied for an initial teacher training programme in order to book the Professional Skills Tests but you must have submitted your application prior to sitting the tests.
During the registration process, it is essential that you use your legal name and date of birth, ensuring this matches the details on your UCAS application and the personal identification you will be asked to bring to the test centre.
All correspondence will be sent via email so it is essential that you provide a valid email address. You can manage your appointments online at www.skillstestbooking.com. A minimum of three working days’ notice is required if you want to cancel or reschedule a test date.
We recommend that you should make at least one attempt to pass the tests by 30th June. This will help you assess whether you need to attend any support sessions and give you time for further revision if you don’t pass the tests first time around.
It’s important that you assess when you are ready to sit the tests and don’t rush into too many attempts too soon.
You will need to have passed both Professional Skills Tests before 31st August prior to starting your initial teacher training degree or PGCE in September.
During the booking process, you will be asked to input your postcode or a place name and will then be shown the five nearest test centres.
You can also download a list of approved test centres from the Department for Education website.
Sitting The Tests
Prior to the day of your test(s), make sure that you know the location of the test centre and how long it will take to get there. You should ensure that you arrive in plenty of time in order to complete the registration process.
You must provide two forms of identification (one primary and one secondary) as well as evidence of your initial teacher training application. You will not be allowed to take either test without them.
The ID presented must exactly match the details you entered during the registration process. A list of accepted primary and secondary ID can be found on the Department for Education website.
The skills tests are computer marked. Once you have finished a test, you will be provided with a printed score report which will confirm whether you have passed.
Edge Hill University can access your results, see how many attempts you have had, the scores achieved and your overall results. You do not need to contact us with your results.
Skills test passes remain valid for three years from the date of the test(s) you passed.
You can attempt each test up to three times free of charge. Further attempts are possible but will incur a charge of £19.25 per subject, per attempt.
It is no longer the case that you must wait a minimum of two years from the date of a third failed attempt before it is possible to try again.
After a minimum of 48 hours since your previous attempt, you will be able to log into your account on skillstestbooking.com and book a resit.