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Skills Tests - Advice

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by gh194380, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. gh194380

    gh194380 New commenter

    Hi All,

    I have my skills tests at the end of this month and I'm just wondering if any of you have any general advice that may help me?

    Which textbooks would you recommend/avoid?
    Was there anything that you 'tripped up on'?

    Thanks :)
  2. alla_ova

    alla_ova Occasional commenter

    Try online tests, it helps a lot! Good Luck!
  3. ah3069

    ah3069 Occasional commenter

    Remember there is an on screen calculator for the maths, I didn't, it'll make it a lot less work!
  4. Topsyt

    Topsyt New commenter

    HI GH,

    I took and passed both of the tests this weekend and would agree with the advice above.

    Take the on line tests as often as you can to prepare for the style and format on the day.

    For numeracy read up on whisker graphs and the other presentational formats. They are straightforward but easy to misunderstand.

    The 12 timed questions are easy to be tripped up on but try to stay calm, look for number patterns e.g 84 as a fraction of 105 = 0.8. The questions aren't particularly hard, but you do have to think quickly.

    On literacy practice spellings you have difficulty with, particularly those with double consonants.

    Above all read or listen to the questions carefully to make sure you are answering what is being asked. This is where I found the practice tests helpful as they highlighted some silly mistakes I made by not reading the question properly.

    The books recommended to me on a University open day were:
    Passing the Numeracy Skills Test. By Mark Patmore
    Passing the Literacy Skills Test. By Jim Johnson

    I got both and found them helpfully in giving an overview and guidance on each area and then lots more questions to practice.
  5. Findlotte

    Findlotte Established commenter

    For literacy, there's a great pack online which gives you free spelling lists, punctuation and grammar tests and comprehension to print and work through (http://www.steveslearning.com/resources.htm) link on the right hand side, you'll need to register.

    There's also the 8 free tests on the .gov website.

    For numeracy, there's certain thing you have to just "know" for example the conversions between percentage, fractions and decimals. (1/8 = 0.125 = 12.5%), your times tables. Multiplying decimals. Ratios. how to read graphs and written data. Most people struggle with the mental arithmetic as it's timed, again there are free videos on youtube which talk you through how to do actual test papers. I bought Professional skills test for ITT (Chris Tyreman) which explained techniques in both numeracy and literacy and had loads of practice questions too.
  6. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    In addition to the fabulous above advice, really embed it by using literacy and numeracy every day in practical situations. In my job at the time I was doing my tests, there were always opportunities to do mental/ paper maths. Also at the gym, working out percentage improvements etc. And reading a quality newspaper every day, noting spellings and phrasings, digging deep to improve comprehension of the story at hand.

    By the time you get to the test, it's just second nature :) good luck!
  7. Snoopy1975

    Snoopy1975 New commenter

    The Mark Patmore book is fantastic and really helped me, as did learning various number facts including the fractions, decimals and percentages conversions. You must know your times tables inside out and do the practice tests over and over. Don't be disheartened initially - keep at it. Good luck!
  8. gh194380

    gh194380 New commenter

    Thanks for all your replies! I've bought a few books and I'm also going to a course at my university a few days before each test - at a cost of £150 I'll add.
  9. frank134

    frank134 New commenter

  10. andergib

    andergib New commenter


    I recently took both my literacy and numeracy test. I can highly recommend this website for the numeracy, numeracyready.co.uk.

    I failed my literacy by one mark and I am absolutely gutted. I traveled from Gibraltar to Madrid to take the test and there are no more scheduled test dates in Madrid. Literacy is my strongest and I must admit the spellings at the beginning put me off, as none of them were on my practise list. Then during the reading exercise I had problems with my mouse. I couldn't scroll up and down when reading through the passage and then I had problems dragging and dropping the answers. I asked the women to come over and help me, but in hindsight I should have asked to retake the test on another PC. I had already wasted a lot of time and become completely distracted by this stage. The reading task I have always been very good out so this was my opportunity to get my marks back and I am sure this problem cost me a few. I have sent an email asking if they would waiver one mark for problems I had in the test, but I haven't heard anything yet. Has anyone else appealed under these circumstances and been awarded an extra mark?
  11. Grefintec

    Grefintec New commenter

    I but a short animation together about the actual test experience. I took my tests before Christmas and the centre wasn't how I imagined it would be. I also have a video with mental arithmetic tips on my channel too. Good luck!
  12. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    Good luck!
  13. TheGentleman

    TheGentleman Occasional commenter

    Don't stress too much about them.

    English is really easy if you are a native English speaker. I found the actual numeracy test more tricky than the past papers and numeracy ready (which I would recommend (it is subscription) signing up for) online tests that I had taken prior to the test.

    That said, nothing beats doing, so I would focus less on ready books (of which there are many) and more on working through past papers. Numeracy ready is on screen, but one needs to write answers on paper. As I said, these 20 tests were a tad easier than the real thing, but worth considering as it trains your maths brain and adds the timing element.

    I attended a short maths course at my PGCE provider prior to my numeracy test, but found that I left more confused as they suggested alternative methods that basically clouded the water for me.

    I completed my tests inLondon and the centre conditions are pretty poor/basic, with over crowding, small booths, people entering and leaving room during my tests - was a real exam sausage factory. Can be quite off putting.

    That said, the feeling one gets when receiving ones results (albeit after a 20 minute wait in said overcrowded exam centre) makes all the hard work worth it.

    Best of luck.
  14. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    I have my English professional skills test booked for tomorrow as I thought I may as well just get on with it.

    Maths, however, is going to mean a lot of hard work; an hour of practice earlier this evening has left a bit of a dark cloud hanging over me. I always struggled with mental arithmetic and answering things under pressure, but feel I am actually 'okay' at maths. It's just the skill of having to generate an answer under pressure that's my problem. Does anyone else feel slightly cheesed off that about 40% of the time on each question is taken up by the recording of the woman explaining the question?! I listen intently then realise I've only got 20 something seconds to answer! Is it like that in the real thing?

    I know it's just a hoop to jump through but it's certainly one that's raising my levels of worry just now.
  15. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    Well that was a waste of time.

    Traipsed all the way up to the test centre only to be told that the UCAS letter I had brought as 'Evidence of Initial Teacher Training application' was invalid because it did not have my name on it. I've looked back through the 'terms & conditions' (where the lovely man at the test centre so firmly told me that this was clearly explained) and nowhere does it state that my name is critically important. They had already had my passport and driving licence to confirm that I am the extant human being I say I am. Surely UCAS is the most 'official' means of evidencing my ITT application? They seem so uptight about forgeries, yet an email from a teacher which I could easily mock up if I was so inclined is perfectly acceptable?

    So, it'll be £19.25 for me to rebook ...marvellous.

    It's administrative garbage like this that make jumping through these hoops so much harder. :mad::mad::mad:
  16. ard13

    ard13 New commenter

    Hi Balvert hope you've got the admin side of things sorted out. Sounds a bit obvious but the key to the maths is staying calm. In the mental maths section start righting down key info while the question is being read and you will already be starting to solve the problem. Practice practice practice - there is lots of useful stuff online epscially some good youtube videos about techinique in the mental section. Good luck.
  17. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    Hi ard, thanks for the soothing words and the good luck!

    I've got over my initial horror at the maths tests and just decided to buckle down and start practising. An hour or so a day in small chunks is my current 'regime' and it's surprising how quickly my brain is getting into the swing of things. They are still going to be a challenge for me but I'll get there.

    They're great tips - thanks.
  18. balvert

    balvert New commenter

    As I know you've all been tossing and turning every night with my plight on your mind, here's a quick update on my 'complaint'.

    I was expecting to hear back within 10 days but heard nothing (that was 24 days ago). Contacted them today to find that my complaint 'wasn't there' so nobody knew about it. On explaining the situation again, the chap on the phone was 'brutally honest' and said that I had no grounds for complaint so it wasn't worth going ahead. Looking on this as just a hoop to be jumped through, I decided to leave it.

    So, I've booked my next literacy test for tomorrow, coughed up £20 and decided just to get it out of the way.

    I must stress again to everyone: make sure all of your documents have your name on. There is no tolerance of even the slightest mistake. £20 might not seem like a huge amount to many people, but it's more than I think we should pay for this privilege.

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