How to Work with Time-Based Questions on Numeracy Tests

By Colin Beveridge

You need to be a little more careful than usual when a question on a numeracy test asks you to work with a table or graph that’s time-related and may involve:

  • Transport timetables.

  • Table of expected times to complete a task.

  • A distance-time graph.

Common timetable questions are:

  • If you leave somewhere at a given time, when will you arrive at your destination?

  • What’s the last bus you can catch from one place to arrive somewhere else by a certain time?

  • How long does it take to get from Point A to Point B?

Timetables are usually given using the 24-hour clock – be careful not to mix up morning and afternoon times!

When will you get there?

This is an easy, three-step process:

  1. Find the place you’re leaving from on the timetable.

  2. Read across until you find a time as soon as possible after when you want to leave.

  3. Read down the column until you reach the time corresponding to where you’re going. That’s your arrival time.

Arriving on time

Finding the last journey that arrives before a given time is a very similar recipe to the previous one, just a little backwards:

  1. Find your destination on the timetable.

  2. Read across until you find the last time that’s before you want to arrive.

  3. Read up the column until you find the time corresponding to where you’re starting. That’s your departure time.

How long does it take?

Finally, finding how long it takes to travel between two places is just another variation on the theme:

  1. Find a time corresponding to your starting place in the timetable.

  2. Find the time in the same column corresponding to your destination.

  3. Work out the time difference between them.

Be careful when you’re working out a time difference – remember there are 60 minutes in an hour, not 100!