A Guide for How to Pass the QTS Skills Test in 2023
Updated November 20, 2023
For those aspiring to become a teacher in England, QTS Skills Tests are one of the most important milestones to pass.
While not all schools require their prospective teachers to take this test, you may be asked to do so and need to prepare for it accordingly.
Here is a comprehensive guide on the QTS Skills Tests and a few examples of questions you can expect on this assessment.
Let’s get started!
The QTS Skills Test was developed by the Department for Education in 2008. Passing the test enables candidates to obtain the Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
Similar to the PGCE maths and English test, the purpose of this test is for prospective teachers to demonstrate their ability to complete various teaching-related professional tasks. This professional skills test is for trainee teachers.
Candidates take this test after obtaining an undergraduate degree and completing a teacher training program.
As of April 2020, the test has ceased to be mandatory in all schools. However, state-funded schools and other special schools still require candidates to take QTS Skills Tests.
If you're applying for a teaching job, you might be asked to pass this test beforehand.
If you've finished your training program in England, you'll be automatically recommended to take the QTS Skills Tests. If you've earned your degree in another country, you'll need to apply for the QTS.
The QTS Skills exam tests two types of skills:
These are assessed in two different tests, and each of these has subcategories too.
The form of questions you have on QTS numeracy and literacy skills tests will depend on the skills the questions are meant to test.
The testing is in digital form, with some questions appearing only in written form, while others are presented as part of an audio test.
Below, you'll find both test formats broken down into subcategories based on these skills.
The QTS maths test has 28 questions, which you'll have to answer within 48 minutes.
The questions on the QTS maths test are divided into two sections:
- Mental arithmetic
- Written arithmetic and data
This part has 12 questions, which you'll receive in audio form. You'll need to prepare headphones for this part.
You'll need to answer the question by calculating the solution in your head. You can’t use a calculator for this part.
Mental arithmetic tests assess your aptitude for solving basic arithmetic problems using:
- The four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
This part of the maths QTS Skills Test has 16 questions, which you'll receive in written form.
You'll be presented with tables, graphs and other collections of data.
To answer the questions, you'll need to understand, apply and correctly interpret the data that's in front of you.
You may also need to contrast, compare and identify patterns in the data presented to you.
You'll have access to an on-screen calculator.
Problems you'll be asked to solve test your ability to use arithmetic functions like:
- Ranges and similar formats to mental arithmetic
For this part, you'll also need to activate your critical thinking abilities.
These will allow you to filter out irrelevant details on the complex graphs and interpret only information relevant to the question.
In addition, you'll also need to ensure you're doing precise calculations in a timely manner.
The QTS literacy skills test has 45 to 49 questions, which you'll need to answer within 45 to 49 minutes, depending on the number of questions you have.
The QTS English test is split into four subcategories, with each carrying a different number of questions:
- Spelling (10)
- Punctuation (15)
- Grammar (10 to 12)
- Comprehension (10 to 12)
In the spelling part of the QTS English test, you'll be presented with 10 sentences, which you'll hear in audio form.
You'll hear each sentence twice, and they'll also appear on the screen.
Here, you might be asked to spell certain words you hear in the sentences correctly.
Alternatively, you may be asked to complete a sentence with a word you'll find spelled in several different ways in the possible solutions. You'll need to identify the correct solution.
On the other hand, you may be asked to spell the word out in the clear space provided under the question.
Either way, the words your spelling skills will be tested on are ones you'll use in your day-to-day life as a teacher, so don’t worry too much about the QTS literacy skills test.
In this section of the QTS literacy test, you'll be presented with a text consisting of 150 to 200 words.
It contains a number of punctuation errors. This number typically corresponds to the number of questions you'll need to answer, as the purpose of this part is to test your punctuation skills. You won't have to rewrite the text.
Instead, you'll be asked to read it and replace the incorrect punctuation with the correct ones by answering the question below. Written communication is a fundamental part of a teacher's job.
You'll need to be precise when handling written texts and have great editorial skills for communication and student work.
This section assesses your aptitude in identifying the differences between grammatically correct and incorrect texts.
You'll be presented with incomplete passages and possible solutions for them.
Some of the answers contain grammatical errors, and you'll be asked to complete the sentences using the grammatically correct version of the solution.
Once again, the skills you're tested on in this section are essential for day-to-day communication in your professional teaching career.
The comprehension part of the exam measures your ability to read and understand written information, typically an official-style text.
You'll be presented with complex passages you'll need to analyze and questions related to each text.
You'll need to identify the main points of the text, draw correct deductions and inferences, distinguish between facts and opinions and perform similar tasks that prove your comprehension skills.
You'll demonstrate these by answering the follow-up questions correctly.
You'll find plenty of sample tests online for QTS Skills Test practice.
However, to help you get started, here are a few examples of the questions you may expect on both parts of the QTS Skills Test.
In a class of 40 students, 50% gained level 4, 30% level 5, 15% level 6 and 5% level 7.
How many students achieved level 5 or above?
Underline and circle the correct spelling:
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To pass the numeracy skill test, you'll need to correctly answer at least 63% of the 28 questions.
This means at least 18 or more correct answers on the two parts of the numeracy test. To pass the literacy tests, you must provide accurate answers to 60% to 65% of the 45 to 49 questions.
Having less than 29 correct answers on all four parts of the literacy test combined means you've failed the test.
If this happens, you'll have two more attempts to pass it free of charge.
If you fail all three sits, you can still make further attempts even within a year, but you'll be charged for each of them.
The school you've applied for may also reserve the right to hire candidates who passed the tests with fewer attempts.
In addition, the results of the candidates applying for the same positions are always compared to each other.
Due to this, if you want to be successful it's not enough to achieve the passing score.
To compete with other candidates, you should aim to score more than 90% on both tests.
How much time you need to prepare for the QTS Skills Test depends on several factors. Regardless of how much time you need, choose the method that works best for you.
Whether you study for two days straight or an hour a day for several weeks, here are a few pointers on how to prepare for taking the QTS Skills Tests.
How to Prepare for the QTS Skills Test
Start by gathering all the study material you'll need to understand the test format and the purpose of each section and prepare for them.
When you're looking up the guides and practice tests, go over each piece of information carefully.
The various sections may have different question forms. Take note of each question form so you can get used to them.
This way, when it comes time to answer the questions (even when taking practice exams), you'll be able to focus only on understanding the reason behind the questions.
When the time comes to take the actual tests, you'll be able to reproduce this process confidently.
There are plenty of online resources for QTS test practice. Some websites offer free samples, while others have paid-for mock tests.
By practicing with these questions, you'll be able to hone all the skills you need to pass both tests.
It will also help you prepare yourself for the time limit you'll have on the actual exam.
Make sure to time yourself while taking the mock exams to increase your speed and accuracy.
Whether it is with the English part or the QTS maths test practice, it’s never a bad idea to be as prepared as possible.
Most sites that offer sample tests will also have plenty of guidance on what skills you need.
Read them to learn the areas you'll need to refresh your memory in and summarize what you've learned from them. Then apply it in practice.
For example, to improve your literacy skills, you might need to read more.
Alternatively, you might need to consult a lexicon to brush up on your grammar, punctuation and spelling skills.
To improve your skill for answering numeracy questions quickly and accurately, you can practice with basic arithmetic exercises.
You can also work on your times tables and multiplication skills with flashcards and games.
Once you've gained confidence with the practice tests, you'll be ready to take the QTS Skills Tests. Here are a few tips on taking real-time tests.
For both the numeracy and the literacy tests, it's vital to read the questions carefully. For the literacy parts, it's important to read the entire passage before attempting to answer the question.
However, reading the questions will give you a clue on what to look for in the text. This way you'll be able to answer the questions correctly without spending too much time on either one.
Feel free to take notes when reading or listening to the questions. This will help you avoid misinterpreting the information you read and hear.
Some questions, like the mental arithmetic ones, you'll only hear twice, so make sure you record any key information right away. If you've understood the question and are prepared to answer it, you can start working on it as soon as possible.
Not only that, but more often than not, you'll be able to revisit unanswered questions. Answer the questions you understand first. However, having notes about those you don't understand will allow you to go back and find a resolution for the questions you've missed.
For the literacy test, it's also critical to read the questions without making any assumptions outside of what's in front of you. After reading texts, you'll need to answer questions based on what you've read. You should assume any information in front of you is the truth.
Do not consider any outside information that may suggest otherwise. There is no need to consider other information because everything you need to answer the questions will be in the text you're given to analyze.
The QTS Skills Test is a two-part assessment often required from candidates applying for teaching positions.
It allows the candidates to showcase their preparedness to take on professional teaching duties and obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England.
Neither of the QTS tests are inherently hard to pass, but unpreparedness can cause some issues for candidates. To avoid becoming confused and to answer the questions efficiently and correctly, you must make the time and effort to practice diligently.
You can practice taking the QTS Skills Tests on several online sites that offer help with testing, try the ones on JobTestPrep.
There are many well-equipped sites that can help you prepare for the test.
The QTS numeracy test has 28 questions, with the mental arithmetic part having 12 and the written arithmetic and data part having 16 questions respectively.
The QTS literacy test has 45 to 49 questions overall, divided into 10 (spelling), 15 (punctuation), 10 to 12 (grammar) and 10 to 12 (comprehension).
In most state-funded and non-maintained special schools in England, you can't become a teacher without passing the QTS Skills Tests.
However, you may be able to teach in other schools, like free schools, academy schools, independent schools or private schools.
The passing rate for the numeracy test is 63%, whereas for the literacy test, this number is 60% to 65%.
Consequently, you'll fail the exams if you obtain less than 18 points on the numeracy skill tests and less than 29 points on the literacy skill tests.
Both the QTS numeracy and QTS literacy tests are timed. You'll have 48 minutes to complete both sections of the numeracy test and 45 minutes to answer the questions on the literacy test.
Candidates who failed the QTS test can retake it after further preparation.
If you've been unable to attend or you've failed due to other reasons than unpreparedness, most schools will allow you to make up to two additional attempts after your first exam date.
There is no time limit on how long the QTS is valid for.
However, candidates who obtain it must also pass a one-year induction period, which is recommended to start as early as possible after taking the QTS Skills Test.
This allows you to keep your skills sharp and become a full-time teacher after the induction period.
The same sites that provide guidance on preparation will offer plenty of sample questions and mock examinations for the QTS exam. Try the ones on JobTestPrep.
Some have free samples and others are paid-for tests. However, the latter can still be a great investment to help you prepare more confidently.
For the QTS Skills Test, each candidate has one attempt and two additional re-sits, free of charge.
There is a fee for any further attempts to take the test.
The amount varies depending on the school requiring the test and the QTS testing center where you're taking it.
To get Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), you'll need to obtain at least an undergraduate degree.
You'll also need to complete an Initial Teacher Training program based on the age group you plan on teaching.
After this, you'll need to pass the QTS Skills Tests.
The QTS Skills Test assesses candidates' abilities to perform teaching jobs. It's required for those wanting to teach in state-funded schools in England.
The assessment has two main components:
- The literacy test
- The numeracy test
Three attempts to take the test are free, and you'll also have the right to pay for additional retakes.
However, preparing for the test will help you get your Qualified Teacher Status much faster. Feel free to refer to this guide when preparing for your QTS Skills Test.
- Changes to the professional skills test for teachers. (2019)