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Professional skills tests - Advice for applicants

To study for a teacher training program in England, you will need to pass the Professional Skills Test.

These test the core skills required for your future teaching role in a school. The focus is on your skills rather than subject knowledge. The test is based in the context of the professional role of a teacher, and will assess the use of real data and information which teachers are likely to encounter in their role.

We strongly encourage candidates to complete the tests prior applying to Middlesex University. However if you have not done so, please complete the tests as soon as possible. Candidates who are invited to interview and attend the interview having successfully completed the tests will be viewed favourably.

Please read the following information carefully. You can also download our infographic for this information on how to prepare and pass the test.

What to expect

Regardless of your specialism, you will be assessed in your competency in numeracy and literacy. The pass mark for each test is 63%, although this may be subject to change year-on-year.

Numeracy test

You will need to complete the two areas of the numeracy skills test, which are a mental arithmetic section and a written section (written arithmetic and written data). You will have 48 minutes to complete the test, which contains 28 questions, made up of 12 mental arithmetic questions and 16 written questions, each worth 1 mark each.

The mental arithmetic section consists of an audio test with timed questions, which assesses your ability to carry out mental calculations in areas such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, time, fractions, decimals, percentages, measurement (money, distance, area and volume) and conversions. You are given 18 seconds to respond to each question. You will not be able to use a calculator but you are able to make jottings.

The written section (written arithmetic and written data) will present written questions to you in a series of on-screen questions. You will be tested on your ability to interpret and use written data to identify trends correctly, make comparisons in order to draw conclusions and interpret information accurately. You will also be tested on solving written arithmetic problems, such as time, money, proportion and ration, range and using simple formulae. You will be able to use an on-screen calculator.

Literacy test

You will need to complete the four areas of the literacy skills test, which are spelling, punctuation, grammar and comprehension. You will have 45 minutes to complete the test, with a total of 41 to 49 marks available (depending on the test).

The spelling section consists of an audio test, containing words you may be expected to use in your role as a teacher. The punctuation section will assess your ability to understand punctuation rules, and you will be asked to insert punctuation into a piece of writing. The grammar section will assess your ability to identify text which does not make grammatical practice, and you will be asked to differentiate between text that clearly conveys an intended meaning against text that does not.

Finally, the comprehension section will assess your ability to identify main points in a text, distinguish between facts and opinions, review facts and key points, make inferences and deduction and evaluate meaning and status. You will be expected to re-work, organise and structure information.

Get prepared

We recommend completing practice tests as this will enable you to identify your areas of strength and areas for development. There are interactive practice tests on the Department for Education website for literacy and numeracy and our Learner Development Unit has produced a video of mental arithmetic tips and tricks specifically for the numeracy test.

You can find a number of independent online resources such as:

There are also a number of books offering advice for passing the tests. Some of the more popular titles include:

  • Passing the Literacy Skills Test (Achieving QTS series) by Jim Johnson
  • Passing the Numeracy Skills Test (Achieving QTS series) by Mark Patmore
  • Pass the QTS Numeracy Skills Test with Ease by Vali Nasser
  • Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers and Getting into ITT by Barker, Bond, Johnson, Patmore and Weiss

If you are applying for BA Primary Education and are currently at school or college, your tutors should be well placed to offer further support and advice.

Finally, come along to an Open Day (undergraduate courses) or Open Evening (postgraduate courses) and talk to our course leaders and admissions teams for personalised guidance.

Booking your test

To register and book your skills tests, please head to the Department for Education website. Please check the availability of dates you would like to attend beforehand, and don't leave it until the last moment, as dates may no longer be available.

The first three attempts at each subject is free of charge. The fourth and any subsequent test will cost £19.25 for each attempt, although this may be subject to change year on year.

The tests are computerised and can be taken at any Pearson VUE test centre in the UK. The nearest test centres to Middlesex University are in Southgate, Holborn, Southwark, Watford and Uxbridge.

Access arrangements

If you have a documented medical condition or disability that may affect your performance, you may be entitled to reasonable adjustments, such as an additional 25% time to complete the test, or a modified test.

Please follow the online instructions when booking your tests. Depending on your need, you may be able to apply directly online, or you may have to fill in an application form.

After your test

Your test is marked by a computer immediately upon completion, and you will be provided with a printed score report on the day. If successful, your result will be valid for three years.

If you were not successful, you can re-sit the test(s) again. There are no limits to the number of attempts you have for each test and can continue to book and sit tests until you have achieved the required pass mark.  Please note that you will need to have passed both the skills tests prior to starting on the PGCE or BA Primary Programme.

If you are holding a conditional offer from Middlesex University, please keep our Admissions team informed of your progress in the test.

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