Our top ten tips for passing the professional skills tests
Picture the scene: you've spent weeks writing, editing, re-writing your ITT application, before finally submitting it. You've then spent another few days planning, editing and re-planning your interview task. You've had the interview, absolutely smashed it (in your humble opinion) and you've been offered a coveted place on an ITT course. Fantastic. Everything's coming together nicely. Your career plans are gradually being ticked off one by one, and you're officially winning at life...
Then the words 'Professional Skills Tests' are uttered and you think to yourself, 'Professional what Tests' ?
It's explained to you that these are basic skills tests in numeracy and literacy and you immediately have a long-supressed flashback to the GCSE exam hall and start to panic. Yes; Professional Skills Tests, also known as QTS skills tests. Whatever route you take to train as a teacher, taking - and passing - these tests will be a conditional part of the offer your ITT provider makes you.
Fear not, however. They're there to ensure a level of competency in Maths and English amongst those who want to become teachers of the next generation, and with a bit of practise (not 'practice') they're nothing to worry about.
Preparation is key; you need to do a bit of revision, even if it's just to help with a strategy for answering questions.
Top Tip 1: Have a go at lots of the online tests or any past test papers you can find online - practise makes perfect! There are plenty available, including on the DfE website. Lots of teachers agree that the practice tests were harder than the real ones, so find comfort in that.
Top Tip 2: Book the tests as soon as you can, don't leave it. Having a date or deadline to work towards is a real motivator.
Top Tip 3: The test can be quite intimidating as it’s timed, but it’s ok to skip a few question if you can’t do it, take a breather and be ready for the next one.
Top Tip 4: You have a piece of paper or whiteboard to write things on - use it! (Vicki, Y3
Top Tip 5: I benefited from looking at YouTube videos. Online there are videos where they show you how to answer the type of questions in real time. They also show you quick ways to find the answer I hadn't considered before.
Top Tip 6: Ask a friend or family member to read the questions from any practise tests out loud to you. This helps with calculating things mentally, or rehearsing answers in your head to check they make sense.
Top Tip 7: There's a great book called 'How to Pass the QTS Numeracy and Literary Skills Test' by Chris Tyreman which is really handy in helping you prepare.
Top Tip 8: If you can, try and keep an eye on the next question coming up, especially in the numeracy test. It just gives you that fraction of a second more to start thinking about the answer.
Top Tip 9: Turn up with plenty of time to spare so you aren't sitting down to start the test when flustered. Also, take at least two pens (just in case on runs out), and remember, you don't need to score 100% to pass, so that takes some of the pressure off.
Top Tip 10: Be the best pupil you can be and make sure that you familiarise yourself with common 'tricky' spelling words and number facts. Chant those times-tables too!
Right, with all that mind, there's really nothing stopping you. Think of it like this: you've got this far, and with a little preparation you're that extra step closer to beginning a career in the best profession in the world.
If you haven't booked your tests yet, go ahead...you've hopefully had some helpful advice on how to master them, after all.
Gipsy Hill Federation Teaching School is based in Lambeth, SE London. We're really keen to share what we know in order to support the professional development of others, and to learn a bit ourselves along the way.
Find out more about us at our website www.ghfteachingschool.london and follow us on twitter @TeachingSchGHF