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QTS skills tests

What are the QTS skills tests?

Muslim Student Teaching Primary

Before you can be recommended for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) you will have to pass skills tests in literacy and numeracy. These skills tests cover the core skills that teachers need to fulfil their wider professional role in schools. For more information about the skills tests, see the NCTL website.

Students starting in 2015

If you're starting your degree after 1 July 2013, you will be required to pass the skills test before you start your course. Once you have submitted your course application form, you will be eligible to book the skills test via the Department of Education website.

Please note that the skills tests are only valid for three years prior to registering for the course.

Students who started in 2012

If you started your degree on 1 September 2012, you will be able to take the skills test at any point during your training. Please note that you're only allowed three attempts at passing the test, after which you will have to wait two years before taking the test again.

Practice skills tests

Literacy and numeracy practice tests are available on practice.skillstestbooking.com.

If you have not registered previously, click on initial registration and enter the required details including the activation key– jhULiqgX . This will enable you to:

  • Take the practice tests
  • View your previous results for the practice tests you have taken
  • Pause the test so that it can be resumed later.

To ensure that you are thoroughly prepared for the skills test, please make use of the NCTL professional skills test information.

Frequently asked questions: General
Frequently asked questions: registering, booking and taking the tests

Changes to Skills Test provider

From 1 December 2014, the provider of the Skills Tests will change from Pearson VUE to LearnDirect. If you plan to take your test after Monday 1 December, you can book online.

Changes to the literacy test

On 28 February 2014, the punctuation section was temporarily removed from the literary test, however it will be re-introduced from 1 December 2014. For more information about why it has been amended, visit the Department for Education website.

Five steps to skills test success

As a teacher training applicant, you must pass both the numeracy and literacy skills tests before you can join a teacher training programme, regardless of your results at GCSE. The deadline to pass is 31 July 2015, however before you dive into the test, take a look at these steps below.

1. Understand the rules and don’t panic!

Remember that all candidates are restricted to only three attempts at each test. If you fail on the third attempt at one or both tests, you will not be able to retake the tests for two years and therefore will not be able to register on an Initial Teacher Training programme until then.

The QTS skills tests assess basic literacy and numeracy skills that you will have already acquired. Both tests are set at approximately GCSE grade C level and should not present any difficulties to the majority of candidates.

Apprehension about the tests is often due to a lack of understanding of the structure and content of the tests and the fact that in some areas you won’t have made use of those skills for some time. It is therefore vitally important you practice and prepare sufficiently.

You should aim to have passed both tests by 31 July 2015 (for entry in September 2015).

2. Try a practice test

Don’t rush to book for the tests unless you are fully prepared. Use the practice tests on the Department for Education website to familiarise yourself with the format and topics.

Working through the online sample tests will enable you to identify any shortfall in your numeracy and literacy skills and become familiar with structure of the questions you will face in the actual tests.

The pass mark for both tests is currently set at 63% so the practice tests will allow you to identify how you measure against the pass mark and the areas you will need to develop further before booking the actual tests.

3. Review your weak areas

Now that you have had a go at some of the practice tests, you’ll have a sense of whether you are confident enough to go ahead with booking an actual test or whether you ought to prepare further.

If you found any test questions particularly difficult, take a look at our list of resources and review the topic.

You can also book on one of our face-to-face numeracy or literacy support workshops. These free sessions are delivered by the university’s Maths and English Language specialist tutors at our campuses in Carlisle, Lancaster and London.

4. Book your tests online

How to book

You can book your tests online. Tests should be booked at least 24 hours in advance; please note that tests cannot be booked for the same day.

You should be aware that Pearsons Test Centres can experience peaks of demand, so you may not always be able to book tests on a date of your choice. Many of the test centres administer other tests such as the driving theory test and the summer period can often be very busy with booking. Plan ahead to ensure you have time to practice and prepare, take the tests and allow for possible resits.

Special arrangements

If you have previously required special arrangements in a test or public exam, you can request the same for the professional skills tests for trainee teachers.

There are different versions of the tests to cater for different needs. Evidence must be available to support any request for adaptations, including the following:

  • 25 and 50 per cent extra time versions
  • on-screen spelling questions in literacy tests
  • on-screen mental arithmetic questions in numeracy tests
  • paper-based tests (including larger print format)

Evidence required

Requests for 25 per cent extra time do not require an application form or evidence to be submitted, although the NCTL reserves the right to request proof that candidates require special arrangements.

For special arrangements beyond 25 per cent extra time, an application form and evidence, in the form of a medical report, SENCO or educational psychologist’s report, is required.

Booking special arrangements tests

When registering online for the skills tests, you must state that you require special arrangements when prompted.

You can only book a test with special arrangements by contacting the skills test helpline.

Note: Do not book a standard test online first.

Skills test helpline: Special arrangements team

The helpline is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.

Telephone: 0845 450 8867 or Email: special.arrangements@pearson.com

5. On the day of the test, come prepared and keep calm

Arrive at the test centre at least 15 minutes before your appointment.

Remember to bring with you:

  • Evidence of your application to Initial Teacher Training
  • The test booking confirmation email
  • The two forms of ID requested by the test centre. For more details, visit the Department for Education website.

As you start the test, have writing materials at hand to make notes as necessary. Take time to read through the test instructions. Don’t rush this stage and be clear about what you must do.

Once the test starts, listen to each question carefully and note down important information is helpful to you. Make sure you answer all questions even if you are not confident about the answer; one correct answer can make the difference between a pass and a fail.

The Numeracy test lasts 48 minutes and the Literacy test 45 minutes.

After the test

If you passed both tests, congratulations! You're one step closer to becoming a teacher!

Please email the admissions team at educationadmissions@cumbria.ac.uk so we can check the results on the Pearson’s database and update our records against your application.

  • I failed the first attempt at one or both tests

    You will know from this first attempt how close you were from the pass mark (63%). You will also know which topics presented more of a problem to you and for which you need to do further preparation and practice. Check out again the support resources available online.

    Remember you can also book a place on one of our face to face Numeracy or Literacy support workshop held on our campuses. These are free and delivered by some of the university’s Maths and English Language specialist tutors.

  • I failed one or both tests for the second time

    Don't panic! You still have one more chance to pass the test. As well as undertaking further preparation and practice, before taking your final tests, we strongly recommend that you attend an on-campus support session at the University of Cumbria.

  • I failed one or both tests for the third time

    Don't be discouraged! There are still some options available.

    Undergraduate students

    If you applied for an undergraduate teacher training degree, you can get your first degree in another subject and apply to do a PGCE afterwards. By the time you finish your first degree, you will be able to take the skills test again.

    We have a range of courses centred around working with people available, such as BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work, BA (Hons) Working with Children and Families, BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology and BA (Hons) Social Work, after which you could progress onto a postgraduate route into teacher training.

    Explore our full range of undergraduate courses.

    Postgraduate students

    If you have applied for a PGCE, there are options available to you too, such as MA EducationMA Social Work or Graduate Diploma Youth and Community Work.

    You may also want to talk to one of our careers advisers who can give you impartial advice about your career options. Check our careers page or contact a careers adviser at careers@cumbria.ac.uk.

Skills test support workshops

Trainees Chatting in Professional Development ClassThe university will be running a series of free skills test support workshops and boot camps to applicants in Carlisle, Lancaster and London. If you need to brush up on your numeracy or literacy skills, book a place on one of the sessions.

We recommend that you try out the sample skills tests available and identify the topics where you need further practice or understanding before the session.

Please note: these sessions are open to University of Cumbria applicants only.

More dates will be added soon. Please check this page regularly for updates.

Practice test sessions

If you would like the opportunity to take a mock exam in test conditions, email pete.fishwick@cumbria.ac.uk to book a place. Places are limited, so book early! 


Digital SkillsNCTL Skills Tests: An Introduction
This interactive resource, created by University of Cumbria staff, guides you through the process of registering, booking and preparing for your skills tests.

Digital SkillsSkills@Cumbria QTS skills test resource
This interactive tool, created by University of Cumbria staff, provides all the tips and tricks you will need to pass the QTS skills test.

External websites

Please note: The University of Cumbria is not responsible for the content on external websites. Inclusion of a link does not imply endorsement.  

Department of Education website
On this site, you can find literacy and numeracy practice papers, as well as revision notes for numeracy (areas of numeracy in the side menu).

BBC Skillswise
This adult learning website covers some of the same topics that appear on the QTS skills test.

Adrian Beckett's Maths Tuition
Examples of numeracy skills test questions and their solutions.

Creative Openings
A variety of tips to passing the literacy skills test.

Numeracy Ready
Practice papers and tutorials for the numeracy skills test. The resources on this website are not free.


Patmore, M (2012) Achieving QTS: Passing the Numeracy Skills Test London; Sage

Pearson VUE Test Centre at University of Cumbria

You can book your test online. If you have a learning disability or SpLD and have previously required special arrangements in a test or public exam, you can request the same for the professional skills tests for trainee teachers. See step 4 in the Five Steps to Success section for more details.

Please note that tests need to be booked 24 hours in advance. You cannot book for the same day.

The University of Cumbria operates a Pearson VUE test centre dedicated to NCTL Skills tests. It is located on the Lancaster campus in the Bishops Cross building. Full location and travel details are available at the time of booking a test online.

Click to see Test Centre opening times ►

Monday 13:00 – 18:00
Thursday 13:00 – 19:00
Friday 09:00 – 14:00
Some Saturdays (see booking system for availability)

Pearson VUE Test Centre Locations

Central London Pearson Vue Test Centres

Central London Pearson Vue Test Centres
Pearson Professional Centre Address
(3.5 miles from Tower Hamlets)
View map
1st Floor
9 Holyrood Street
Southwark, SE1 2EL
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
London Holborn
(5.4 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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190 High Holborn
London, WC1V 7BH
United Kingdom
Tel: 8007314359
(5.4 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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4th Valentines House
51-69 Ilford Hill
Ilford London, IG1 2DG
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(16.4 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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2nd Floor Crown House
47 Chase Side
Southgate, London, N14 5BP
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(12.2 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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Planwell House
LEFA Business Park, Edgington Way
Sidcup, DA14 5BH
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(15.2 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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Second Floor
Central House
27 Park Street
Croydon, CR0 1YD
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(16.8 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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4th Floor
Drapers Court
Kingston Hall Road
Kingston Upon Thames, KT1 2BQ
United Kingdom 
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(23.3 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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11th Floor,Terminus House
Terminus Street
Harlow, CM20 1XA
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
(22.4 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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1st Floor, Cassiobury House
11-19 Station Rd
Watford, WD17 1AP
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
(22.8 miles from Tower Hamlets)
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Ground floor
Wellington House
4/10 Cowley Road
Uxbridge, UB8 2XW
United Kingdom 
Tel: 0800 731 4359

North West Pearson Vue Test Centres

North West Pearson Vue Test Centres
Pearson Professional Centre Address
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111 Duke Street
Barrow in Furness, LA14 1XA
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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Shop Unit 3 Border Court
Berwick upon Tweed
Berwick, TD15 1DP
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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Darwin Court
Unit 9A Ground Floor
Blackpool Technology Park
Blackpool, FY2 0JN
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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34 Queensbrook
Bolton Technology Exchange
Bolton, BL1 4AY
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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1st Floor Caspian House
61 East Parade
Bradford, BD1 5EP
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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10a Lowther Street
Carlisle, CA3 8DA
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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1 Corbridge House
The Square
Seller Street
Chester, CH1 3AN
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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77 - 79 Whitesands
Unit 3
Dumfries, DG1 2RX
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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45 High Street
Galashiels, TD1 1RY
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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1st Floor Strayside House
27 West Park
Harrogate, HG1 1BJ
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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5th Floor
Ramsden House
New Street
Huddersfield, HD1 2TW
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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Gallery House 1st Floor
The Headrow
Leeds, LS1 5RD
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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3rd Floor
Orleans House
Edmund Street
Liverpool, L3 9NG
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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5th Floor
111 Piccadilly
Greater Manchester, M1 2HY
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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Unit 7
Telford Court
Morpeth, NE61 2DB
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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First Floor
Collingwood House
3 Collingwood Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1JW
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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5A - 6A Whitney Court
Southlink Business Park
Hamilton Street
Oldham, OL4 1DE
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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Ground Floor Norwest Court
Guildhall Street
Preston, PR1 3NU
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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3 Bodfor Street
Rhyl, LL18 1AS
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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Unit 1A Ground Floor ,Sovereign Point
31 The Quays
Salford Quays
Salford, Greater Manchester, M50 3AH
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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Suite 6 Gordon House
3-5 Leicester Street
Southport, PR9 0ER
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
St Helens
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2nd Floor Century House
Hardshaw Street
St Helens, WA10 1QU
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 7314359
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Ground Floor Kingsgate
Wellington Road North
Stockport, SK4 1LW
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359
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56 George Street
Stranraer, DG9 7RH
United Kingdom
Tel: 0161 855 7492
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Ground & Basement
38 - 40 Market Street
Wigan, WN1 1HX
United Kingdom
Tel: 0800 731 4359

European Pearson Vue test centres

Test centres in Europe
Pearson Professional Centre   Address
Frankfurt, Germany  62 Bettinastrasse
4th floor
60325 Frankfurt
Paris, France  3-15 rue Henri Rol-Tanguy
5th Floor
93100 Montreuil
Madrid, Spain  1st floor office B3
28 Calle Hermosilla
28001 Madrid

For all other UK students who do not live in the North West of England or Central London the Pearson VUE Test Centre Locator will help identify the five nearest test centres to your home address.

If you wish to take the skills tests abroad there are Pearson VUE Test Centres in Paris, Madrid and Frankfurt. Further information on this can be found on the Department of Education website.

LearnDirect Test Centres

Test centres near the University of Cumbria
LearnDirect Test Centre Address
PHX Training Ltd - Carlisle
(1.1 miles from Fusehill St)
3-5 Victoria Place, Carlisle, CA1 1ER
Phone: 01228810960
Email: shirley@phxtraining.co.uk
LearnDirect Centres Stratford
(3.4 miles from East India Dock Road)
3 Tramway Avenue, Stratford, E15 4PN
Phone: 0208 534 2626
Email: enquiries.stratford@learndirect-centres.co.uk
LearnDirect Centres Ilford
(7.9 miles from East India Dock Road)
Ilford Chambers, 11 Chapel Road, Ilford, IG1 2AF
Phone: 0208 553 3626
Email: enquiries.ilford@learndirect-centres.co.uk