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Detailed Guide to the Criteria Basic Skills Assessment: with Tips

Detailed Guide to the Criteria Basic Skills Assessment: with Tips

Updated November 20, 2023

By Laura Bevis
Laura Bevis

What Is the Criteria Basic Skills Assessment Test?

Tests are a very common way of measuring a candidate’s skills for a particular role.

The Criteria basic skills test is slightly different from other related tests in that it measures the individual’s readiness for a job, assessing whether they could be trained further if they secured the role.

The basic skills assessment test measures this through testing your English skills, which cover grammar, spelling and language skills, and basic math skills test.

It offers a quick way to assess the readiness of candidates in a range of careers, such as:

  • Administrative roles
  • Customer service positions
  • Clerical
  • Data entry
  • Secretarial

How Is the Basic Skills Test Scored?

The scoring determines the next steps for the candidate if they get through to the next round or end their journey for this role at this stage.

Each person is given a raw score and a percentile ranking.

The raw score is the actual amount of questions the individual answers correctly. If a person’s score is below 28, they have failed the test.

The percentile ranking indicates how the person has scored compared to their peers who have also taken the test.

If their percentile is 60, it means that the individual has scored better than 60% of the group to which the test was given.

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Example Questions for the Basic Skills Exam

It is always good when preparing for a test to understand the type of questions that will be asked.

The Basic Skills exam is divided into eight categories. Here we look at those areas and example questions in each one.


This section assesses a candidate’s knowledge of words and general vocabulary.

Example Question

Which word below gives the meaning of the word 'excruciating'?

a) Agonizing
b) Pain
c) Immense
d) Excitable

Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation

This section assesses basic grammar and punctuation skills.

Example Question

Please state which sentence is written correctly.

a) Would you like to come for dinner with Louise and Nancy?
b) Do you want dinner with Louise and Nancy?
c) Would you like to come for dinner with Louise and Nancy
d) Louise and Nancy are having dinner too if you want?

Sentence Completion

This section measures understanding of sentences and the relationship between words.

Example Question

Please fill in the gap from the choice of words:

Yoga has become _________ more popular over the years.

a) Increasing
b) Increasingly
c) More increased
d) Very

Meaning Word in Context

This category of the test requires the individual to show their understanding of words.

Example Question

Choose the right word to complete the sentence that describes what is going on.

Gary’s favorite famous football team losing was a ___ to him.

a) Loss
b) Disappointment
c) Relief
d) Good thing

Reading Ability

Example Question

’The school has three main school rules, these are: wear your school uniform, be kind to everyone, try your best at all times. If the rules are broken, students will face detention. Five detentions result in suspension. We ask parents and carers to support children in sticking to the rules.’

From the passage above, please answer the question below:

Which of the following would mean a child had broken the rules?

a) Sally helped her friend with her math
b) David wore his tracksuit to school when it was cold
c) Leila couldn’t answer all the questions in science but tried her best
d) Mike brought his own lunch to school

Mathematical Word Problems

Example Question

The school has three classes each year, and there are four years. Each class has two teachers.

How many teachers are there in total?

a) 22
b) 24
c) 12
d) 32

Basic Maths Skills Assessment

Example Question

There are 12 cookies in the jar. Isabella and Dylan eat two thirds in total.

How many cookies did they eat?

a) 6
b) 9
c) 12
d) 8

Criteria Basic Skills Assessment Test: Detailed Guide with Tips
Criteria Basic Skills Assessment Test: Detailed Guide with Tips

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Why Do Companies Use the Basic Skills Test?

Companies often use tests to measure how an individual would perform in a particular role, and the basic skills test is ideal for employers to use in administrative and secretarial roles.

If they are competent in these areas, they are going to be better at the role, and there is evidence to prove it.

A sample of associates at a market research firm found that those who passed the test performed about 75% better.

Another study found that there was a .27 correlation between the Basic Skill test score and the job’s performance.

How Is the Basic Skills Test Formatted?

The Basic Skills Test is 20 minutes long and has 40 questions with multiple-choice answer options.

This gives candidates just 30 seconds to answer each question, so time is tight, and preparation is needed to ensure the best score for the individual.

How to Prepare for the Basic Skills Test

Leading on from the last section, it is important to prepare for the basic skills exam. Questions need to be read, understood and answered very quickly.

The score will determine whether the individual is taken through to the next stage of the recruitment process, so good preparation gives a better chance of getting that all-important high score.

Here are our top tips for preparing:

Step 1. Take a Basic Skills Assessment Test Practice

There are a number of basic skills assessment practice tests online for free.

By completing a range of these tests, individuals can practice doing the test under the tight time limit, get a great understanding of the questions and topics, and practice areas of struggle.

Step 2. Revise

When doing the practice tests, candidates will be able to get an understanding of areas to revise. Practicing quick mental calculations will help.

For the reading section, going over simple grammar and punctuation skills is recommended.

Step 3. Read

By reading as much as possible will help with vocabulary skills, which is a big part of the test, so it will help hugely.

Step 4. Look After Your Well-Being

If a person is tired from cramming in revision or has not eaten breakfast or lunch, it will have a negative impact on performance in the test, so please ensure a good night’s sleep and plenty of food and water before the test.

Frequently Asked Questions

The basic skills tests measure the core English and math skills of a person to see if they are ready for training or to take on a certain role.

It tests vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, math and reading skills.

Basic skills tests vary in difficulty, depending on the test and the individual. They assess foundational knowledge in areas like math, reading, writing, and critical thinking.

For those with a good grasp of these skills, passing may not be difficult. However, those with knowledge gaps or lack of practice may find them more challenging.

Preparation is key, including studying and reviewing the relevant content. Difficulty can be subjective, as strengths and weaknesses differ. With proper preparation and a strong foundation, most individuals can pass basic skills tests.

You can practice for a skills assessment by completing many practice exams online. This will help with practicing under time and understanding the topic of questions.

It is also good to review math and English skills and ensure you have had a good sleep.

The purpose of the basic skills test is to show if a person is ready for a certain job role, commonly in admin, clerical or customer service roles.

Research shows that those who get the next scores perform 75% better in their job.

The basic skills exam is timed. It is 20 minutes long. With 40 questions, this gives just 30 seconds to answer each question.

To pass a basic skills test, it is essential to take a systematic approach. First, become familiar with the test format and content, understanding the sections and question types.

Assess your strengths and weaknesses to identify areas that require more practice. Review the relevant material, such as math concepts, grammar rules, and critical thinking strategies.

Regularly practice with sample questions and timed mock tests to improve your speed and accuracy. Additionally, consider utilizing additional resources like textbooks and online tutorials.

During the actual test, manage your time effectively and stay calm and focused. Review your answers if time allows, and trust in your preparation.

Finally, reflect on your performance to identify areas for improvement and adjust your study plan accordingly. With dedication and a strategic approach, passing a basic skills test is achievable.

There are several resources available for practice questions for basic skills tests.

Online platforms such as educational websites, test preparation websites, and even official testing websites often offer free or paid practice materials.

Additionally, libraries, bookstores, and educational institutions may have books or study guides specifically designed for basic skills test preparation.

Utilizing these resources can help you familiarize yourself with the test format and types of questions, allowing you to practice and improve your skills before taking the actual test.

The number of questions on a basic skills test can vary depending on the specific test and the institution or organization administering it.

Typically, basic skills tests consist of multiple sections, each containing a set number of questions.

The total number of questions can range anywhere from 50 to 150 or more, depending on the test.

It is important to check the guidelines or information provided by the testing authority to determine the exact number of questions for the particular basic skills test you will be taking.

The retake policy for basic skills tests varies depending on the testing organization or institution.

Some tests may allow you to retake the exam after a specific waiting period, while others may have limitations on the number of retakes or require additional steps before retaking.

It is crucial to check the policies and guidelines provided by the testing authority to understand their retake policy. Understanding the specific requirements will help you determine if and when you can retake the basic skills test.

The definition of a 'good' score on a basic skills test can vary depending on the test's purpose and the institution or organization using the scores for evaluation.

Generally, a good score on a basic skills test would indicate a solid understanding of the fundamental skills being assessed.

It is essential to refer to the score interpretation guidelines provided by the testing authority or consult with the relevant institution to understand what score range they consider satisfactory or competitive.

Remember, the interpretation of a good score can differ based on the context and the specific requirements of the test.

After taking a basic skills test, the next step depends on the purpose of the test. If the test was part of an academic or employment application process, the institution or employer will typically provide further instructions on what actions to take.

This may include waiting for the test results, attending an interview or evaluation, or proceeding to the next phase of the application process.

If the test was for personal assessment, you can review your results, identify areas for improvement, and develop a plan to strengthen your skills.

It is important to follow any instructions or guidance provided by the relevant institution or organization to proceed accordingly.

Complete guides for basic skills tests can be found in various places such as JobTestPrep.

Educational bookstores often have study guides or test prep books specifically tailored to basic skills tests.

Online platforms, including educational websites and test preparation websites like JobTestPrep, may offer comprehensive guides or courses that cover all the sections and topics commonly included in basic skills tests.

Libraries and educational institutions may also have resources available for borrowing or reference. When searching for a complete guide, look for reputable sources that are up-to-date and align with the specific requirements of the basic skills test you will be taking.

Final Thoughts

The Basic Skills Test is a small but important test to measure someone’s skills for an entry-level job role.

Research shows that the higher scorers perform better in their role, so it is important to revise and prepare for the test to ensure you do the best you can.

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