Professional skills tests

Professional skills tests

The professional skills tests (skills tests) for prospective teachers assess the core skills that teachers need to fulfil their professional role in schools, rather than the subject knowledge needed for teaching. This is to ensure all teachers are competent in numeracy and literacy, regardless of their specialism.

All current and prospective trainee teachers must pass the skills tests in numeracy and literacy before they can be recommended for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS).

Initial teacher training (ITT) providers are responsible for checking that all trainees meet the current ITT entry requirements for the skills tests, before they start the course.

The skills tests:

  • are in addition to the GCSE grade C or grade 4 equivalence entry requirement
  • are set in the context of the professional role of a teacher
  • assess the use of real data and information which teachers are likely to encounter
  • are computerised and can be taken at PSI skills test approved test centres throughout the UK
  • go through a stringent quality assurance procedure
  • are extensively piloted and the performance of each test is regularly monitored

You can find more information about the skills tests in the context of teacher training via the Get into teaching website.

Changes to the arrangements for taking the skills tests

If you are starting ITT in 2019 you must pass the professional skills tests in numeracy and literacy before you begin your teacher training. A new process for assessing numeracy and literacy will be introduced for ITT starting in 2020, and information on this will be made available ahead of the new recruitment cycle.

In February 2018, changes to the arrangements for the skills tests were announced.

• Candidates will have unlimited attempts to achieve a test pass.
• The 2-year lockout period will be removed; candidates previously locked out will be able to book tests for both subjects.
• All candidates will be able to book 3 tests per subject, free of charge. A charge will be applied from the fourth test attempt per subject.

If you have paid for and taken a second or third attempt at a test on or after 24 October 2017 and before 14 February 2018, you will automatically receive a refund for the cost of your test.

Information for candidates taking tests

The Department for Education manages the development of new content for the professional skills tests for trainee teachers. To help us to do this, we are undertaking trials of new questions we plan to use in future tests. It is important that we regularly update our tests and that we trial new questions to make sure that the skills tests remain valid and up-to-date for candidates.

The department is working with PSI, the organisation contracted to deliver the professional skills tests, to run the next trial. Candidates taking the test may be asked to participate in the trial.

If you are a candidate and would like to participate, you may wish to know that:

  • the trial will take no longer than 15 minutes to complete, so can be undertaken whilst your test result is being processed
  • the trial will consist of either literacy or numeracy questions, dependent on the test you took
  • the questions will be in a similar format to the question in your skills test
  • the responses you give to the trial questions will not affect your skills test result
  • your participation will help us to develop new test materials to use in the future

You will be entered into a prize draw to win an iPad as a thank you for your time.

For more information see prize draw terms and conditions (part E).

Getting help

PSI's helpdesk is available from Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

Telephone: 0300 303 9613

Email: and

You can contact the Teaching Information Line on 0800 389 2500 for advice on teacher training more widely, including what’s involved in teacher training; qualification queries; funding options; and arranging school experience. The Teaching Information Line can also help you to check if you’re eligible to receive one-to-one support from a qualified teacher to prepare for the skills tests and get ready for interviews. Alternatively you could visit the Get into Teaching website for more information.