Skills Tests – How NOT to fail them!

First the good news – the DfE announced in July 2019, that applicants for teacher training starting in Sep 2020 will no longer have to complete the Skills Tests in Numeracy & Literacy. But the bad news is that trainees looking to start in Sep 2019, DO STILL HAVE TO pass them both. Sorry!

However, last year’s changes to Skills Tests was excellent news, so although you do still have to pass them for this year,  you do now get 3 FREE attempts and no ‘lock-out’ for 2-years if you do fail the 3rd test any more.

Also since the 2018 changes, if you had failed a 3rd test sometime over the past few years and were ‘locked-out’, you no longer have to wait for 2-years and so can reapply and start taking tests again now. If this is YOU, we’d love to hear from you ASAP about reapplying for next year.

So clearly we’d like you all to pass the Skills Tests as soon as possible and preferably not have to pay for a test, so we’d rather you were properly prepared to take and pass them , hopefully first time, so please read this carefully:

Firstly it’s important that you take the right documents when attending the Skills Test centers. Anyone that doesn’t follow the process (below) might be turned away, and may lose their first free attempt at taking the Skills Tests.

Booking the skills tests:

You can book your Skills Tests once you have submitted your application. You can book in advance of this, as long as your application is submitted before you attend the test centre.

You can complete a fully interactive online test before you attend – simply follow the instructions on the page and use this activation key: jhULiqgX

What you need to bring:

    • Two forms of identification – a primary ID such as a passport, and a secondary ID (e.g. a debit card). More information can be found on the STA Website
    • You also need to bring proof of your teacher training application – e.g.:
    • a welcome email from UCAS Teacher Training;
    • correspondence from your school or university provider;
    • a copy of your completed UCAS Teacher Training application form;
  • confirmation of, or an invitation to, an interview from your school or university.

For more information please visit:

We run coaching sessions for applicants who have been offered a place to train with us, but other organisations also offer helpful advice or on-line guidance, such as TES – Get help preparing for the Professional Skills Tests – Register for FREE on-line sessions.

So, once you know what you’re taking with you, please consider that:

In our experience, many applicants take the first one without any real preparation thinking “how hard can it be?” and are then surprised by the test and fail it. Then they do some practice tests, but think we need them to pass the tests ASAP, so re-book without really taking the time they need to be ready to pass and so fail again, perhaps just by an odd mark.

So, be one of those who doesn’t take it lightly, be very well prepared for your first attempts and you’ll more than likely pass them both first time. But if not, make sure that you are totally ready for the 2nd attempt and then you’ll not be putting yourself under the pressure of having to take it for a 3rd time, even if you can now go back for a 4th or 5th etc. as after the 3rd test you will have to pay.

Almost everyone passes by the 3rd attempt, very few fail and most pass 1st or 2nd time.

Take and pass the ‘easier’ of the two first. If Maths is your ‘thing’ do that one and then take the literacy later on. If English is your strength, do that one first then take the numeracy later.

Don’t book to take them both on the same day just to save travel time and costs – it could put you under too much pressure and end up costing you far more in the long run!

For applicants offered places with us, we run coaching & support events in the Spring & Summer Term, so there’s no mad rush having to take them just yet.

And . . . you might want to go to one or more the following – other websites & services can be found from a simple Google search (other search engines are also available!), but these have been recommended by some of our former trainees:

Numeracy Ready & How to pass the Numeracy test (Quote ‘NST20’ for a Discount)

FREE online sessions (TES)

How to pass the Literacy test

Literacy Skills Test (spellings)

Creative Openings (Numeracy & Literacy support)

QTS Skills Tests

Good luck with your Skills Tests this summer!

We’re really looking forward to deleting this post and never having to mention Skills Tests ever again after September 2019!!

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7 thoughts on “Skills Tests – How NOT to fail them!”

  1. I highly recommend looking at the practice tests, just to give some insight into the requirements for passing. I passed both tests first time but I am pretty sure that I would have failed the numeracy test given I passed my GCSE over 30 years ago. I had to do the prep beforehand.

    It’s free to look.


  2. I recommend ‘ numeracy ready’ to help you prepare. The 4 free tests that you get with the skills test are great, but you begin to learn the responses rather than understand them. Also YouTube clips on strategies for quick mental maths. I passed both tests first time, after being sure I would fail the numeracy one. As a very late applicant, I only had a couple of weeks to prepare, so it is possible.

    Good Luck!

  3. I’m on my last attempt for maths after failing by one mark on my second attempt. I am slowly losing hope. are there any materials which could help me or any advice from people who passed on the third attempt.
    I found the second attempt much much harder so it has put me off going in the third attempt.
    Any help please ?

    1. Alina – We’re sorry that you are now facing your 3rd attempt, but try not to worry as the majority do pass within 3 goes, but yes, sadly not all do.

      The only real advice that we can give you is to not rush into the 3rd attempt. Take time to really find out which areas you’re not as good at and seek help (on-line resources like ‘Numeracy Ready’, YouTube, various books etc.) and speak to any schools that you’re working with, as they all have numeracy specialists who might be able to help you. Then really make sure that you’re confident about taking the test – give yourself time on the day so that you’re not rushing about and plan something as a reward for yourself for when you’ve passed . . . and you will.

      I know it’s easy to say, but you only missed by one mark, so with confidence you’ll pass next time, if you’ve prepared well and you won’t even be booking the test until you’re ready.

      I’ll not wish you luck as it needs you to be prepared, confident, focused and positive, not lucky.

      It can be done and you WILL do it!

    1. Hi, i just wanted some tips for my numeracy skills tests… I have passed my literacy but i am struggling with maths.. maybe due to nerves on the day.. any advice?

      1. Hello,

        Sorry for the delay responding.

        Most people have one of the two which they have more trouble with than the other, but since the change last year from only having 3 attempts, we haven’t had anyone who didn’t pass both tests in the end, so we’re sure that you will too.

        We would always say to do whatever practice tests you can and even look at some you can buy to give you better feedback on what you need to focus on to pass the real tests. We have a blog ‘How not to fail your skills tests’ which gives some advice and a few links to resources.

        We put on free coaching sessions for anyone that we’ve offered a place to and extend the training to other local providers to also send their trainees and these are always seen to be useful, so look out for providers offering support.

        The DfE have also done some free on-line Q&A sessions so go to:

        You’ve done the right thing by sitting the one that you’re stronger at first, so you have some idea of the process and test centre etc. so hopefully you’ll pass the numeracy if you’re as well prepared.

        The key is preparation

        Best wishes

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