What Are Numeracy Tests and What Do They Cover?

By Colin Beveridge

Numeracy is the maths the average person needs to stay out of trouble. Unless you’re doing something pretty technical, you probably don’t have much need for algebra, trigonometry or calculus in your daily life – but you may well need to be able to work out lengths and volumes, percentages, or to interpret graphs.

So, numeracy is about useful maths skills that you could conceivably need to use at work, at home or anywhere else, and those skills are usually the ones that numeracy tests cover.

Numeracy test questions tend to break down into four broad categories (although sometimes the questions bleed across the boundaries):

  • Whole number arithmetic is about being able to deal with adding, taking away, multiplying and dividing. This is really the basis for all of the other categories, so knowing your number facts and methods really pays off.

  • Fractions, decimals, percentages and friends are about working with the slightly more awkward but still useful sums.

  • Measures, space and shape are used to talk about the world, whether you’re describing how long a journey should take or how warm it is.

  • Graphs and statistics come up all the time: at work, in the news, in adverts and so on. You only need to know a few basic types of graph and statistic for a numeracy test.