Are Teaching Certification Tests Too Hard?

Are Teaching Certification Tests Too Hard?

Education December 17, 2014 / By Rachael Matthews
Are Teaching Certification Tests Too Hard?

As the popularity of a teaching profession increases, have the tests for entry become too strenuous?

Before you can be recommended for qualified teacher status in England, you need to pass a number of skills tests that cover things like literacy and numeracy. You need to pass these skills before you start your teaching course. Once you've passed these skills tests and undergone your training can you start to apply for teaching jobs through a site such as

More than 86% of students pass the literacy test and 81% pass the numeracy test on their first try. Even if you don't get it first time around, you're allowed to take the test twice more. If you don't pass after three attempts then you have to wait two years before taking the test again.

The high pass rates would suggest that the skills tests aren't too hard but that's not to say you shouldn't study. Think back to your GCSEs (General Certification of Secondary Education for those outside of the UK), the skills tests are set at a grade C level in English and Maths. If you got grades higher than this, you shouldn't have too much to worry about.

If those grades do seem high to you, or you're seriously out of practice when it comes to numeracy or literacy, don't panic.

The reason the tests are set at this level is to ensure that the students you eventually teach will be able to get a basic level of knowledge from you. Something you'll no doubt agree is important.

It's possible to take practice tests before the real thing. Even if you're confident that you can pass, you should take the practice tests over on the Department for Education website. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the topics and the format of the test.

The pass mark for both tests is 63%. Once you know your practice test score, you'll be able to ascertain how much work you need to do to be sure you pass.

After taking a practice test, you should be able to work out where your weak areas are. Brush up on these areas and you should be good to go.

It's also important to check what the common mistakes are. There are plenty of resources out there that will guide you through the mistakes that other students often make. This is especially important in maths as making mistakes will help you to learn the correct way of doing something.

It's always best to take a practice test then brush up on the topics you struggled with. Once you feel you understand the questions and the answers, try another practice test. Do this until your test scores are nicely above the 63% pass mark. 

In conclusion, the PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate of Education) skills tests aren't too difficult. If you're worried about passing the tests before commencing your course, make sure you do adequate preparation to make sure you have the basic knowledge and skills to get through it with confidence. If you're nervous then there's every chance you could make a silly mistake.

Basic tutoring in this area might help you to get up to scratch before you start your course. No doubt your GCSEs will all come flooding back quickly enough.


Rachael Matthews has a degree in magazine publishing. Having taught English in the UK and abroad, she is very interested in what could improve the education system. 

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