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Learn more about Numerical Literacy and Basic Numeracy Tests

Are you expecting to take a numeracy test as part of your job application process? There are many different variations of these tests from basic maths tests to difficult numerical computation tests. In this article we will cover these numeracy tests giving you a full picture of what to expect before you come to take them. We will also point you in the right direction so you can practise them yourself.
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Who Takes Basic Maths Tests?

A wide range of jobs require basic numerical computation skills, among which are operational, commercial, customer and administrative staff. There are many companies that require applicants to pass a numeracy test. To name but a few: the Boots literacy and numeracy test, the NHS literacy and numeracy test and the QTS numeracy test for those who wish to get a teachers qualification. Arithmetical fluency and numerical skills that are relevant to workplace tasks include non-calculator and calculator based operations and estimations. This is the reason why so many companies take advantage of technology and administer online numeracy tests.

Numerical Literacy Tests

Also known as basic numeracy tests and basic maths tests, these numeracy tests assess your ability to understand basic mathematical concepts and carry out simple calculations. Although the actual definition of numerical literacy is subject to argument with some claiming it means understanding simply the four basic functions (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and others claiming that anyone who doesn't understand advanced calculus is numerically illiterate, for our purposes we will simply use the following:

Numerical literacy is the ability to understand basic mathematical concepts and carry out simple arithmetic calculations in everyday life situations, in particular arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The most common principles that are examined in these tests are:

  • The four basic operations.
  • Fractions and decimals. Get our free review of decimals.
  • Rounding numbers.
  • Averages.
  • Basic geometry concepts.

For example:

Select the correct answer:

0.58 + 1.29 =

A. 1.77     B. 1.87      C. 1.97      D. 1.57      E. 2.11

For questions of this nature you are generally given a very short amount of time to answer them, normally less than 20 seconds per question and you are not given a calculator to work with.

Number Series Tests

Although these questions are often defined as numeracy test questions, they are not connected in the truest sense. These questions present you with a series of numbers or fractions that have a certain order to them. You have to work out the relationship between the numbers and use this pattern to get the correct answer. These tests are particularly popular with those applying for positions in IT, Cabin Crew and Technical positions. They are also a major constituent of IBM's IPAT proprietary selection test and Onetest's Cognitive Ability Test.

For example:

Number Series Sample Question

In the above example in order to arrive at the correct solution you have to deduce the relationship going on in the sequence. Namely: as each number on the left hand side of the fraction decreases the number on the right hand side increases. This gives us the correct answer. 

There are however, more complicated series questions than this where the relationship is created using mathematical functions as well. See our dedicated page on number series for more detail on these particular tests.

Word Problems

A further type of test in the basic numeracy tests is a test where you have to answer word problems. You are presented with between one and four sentences of information and you have to calculate the correct answer. You may be asked to select the correct answer from a choice of options or you may have to type your answer in a box.

For example:

David has invested money in some shares that have a projected accumulated increase of 3.5% a year. In four years’ time, how much money will David have if he invested £450?





Who is likely to face these tests?

Nowadays, a multitude of nonprofessional and professional positions require basic numeracy skills. These skills serve as evidence for basic education and intelligence, and can greatly affect the chances of getting a job. Whether you are applying for an administrative position, help desk, customer service, sales, or carpentry - basic maths knowledge is a must-have skill. The Royal Navy psychometric test contains a section of numeracy questions, as does the police test.

How can JobTestPrep Help?

Let’s face it. Probably the last time we really used the numeracy skills we learnt in school was… in school. Having rusty or limited numeracy skills reduce your chances of getting a job or making progress within an organisation's hierarchy. Therefore it is highly important to review and practice these concepts until full mastery is reached, until all that rust is banished. Numeracy test performance can definitely be improved through practice and JobTestPrep offers extensive practice packs for basic maths tests and basic numeracy tests as well as numeracy practise tests for every ability level. We hope you have enjoyed this article and we look forward to helping you in your path to success in numeracy tests.

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