A student using a Calculator

Basic Maths Test – Preparation Guide And Sample Questions

It is now common practice for employers to use a range of aptitude tests as part of their application and hiring processes. These tests may include verbal reasoning, personality assessments, literacy and situational judgement tests.

However, an important part of selecting the perfect candidate for many roles will be to assess basic skills in mathematics.

Take the Basic Maths Practice Test to improve your score.

These maths tests will primarily assess your level of knowledge and understanding of four key areas — namely addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — as well as the ability to measure amounts and sizes.

A candidate’s overall capabilities and intelligence may also be measured using these tests. The tests are pitched around the level of an average secondary school maths student — 16 years of age — and can also include calculation of averages, fractions and basic algebra.

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Why Do I Need Basic Maths Skills Competence?

Good basic maths skills can provide you with a distinct advantage in both your work and private life. The ability to calculate financial transactions is something many of us do on a daily basis when working out our bills, taxes, salaries, insurance payments and other personal expenses.

In fact, we all use maths automatically, and probably more than we realise in our everyday lives. Calculating measurements during food preparation, using the time to plan special dates or events, paying bills, setting and keeping to a budget when food shopping and much more.

The ability to perform mental calculations easily, accurately and efficiently can really help you to thrive and do well in your chosen role.

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There are many workplace roles that will require you to demonstrate good basic maths skills, and these could include:

  • Education
  • Financial Sector roles – banking is a prime example where maths skills would be important
  • Retail – calculating price changes, totals and exchanging money or weighing produce
  • Healthcare jobs – measurement of pharmaceuticals or measuring height and weight
  • Jobs involving mechanics and mechanical engineering – problem-solving, measurement and diagnostics to fix issues
  • Technicians and Electricians

Companies that may require you to sit a basic maths skills test include BBC, Google, Amazon, NHS, and Deloitte. But this list is definitely not exhaustive, and many organisations, large and small, may also require you to demonstrate your basic maths ability through some form of an assessment test.

Other organisations that will ask you to sit such a test include the police, QTS and the Royal Navy.

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Who Provides the Maths Skills Tests?

Kenexa, SHL and the Algonquin College are among the leading maths test providers, but there will be many others. It is a good idea to try and find out which maths test provider your new prospective employer uses so that you can get a notion of the style and format of the test.

What Is the Format of a Basic Maths Test?

Student writing maths solution on a white paper

No matter which test provider you are exposed to, they will all use a similar format and process for their maths skills assessment.

In general, the tests will have time allocated to each question which is usually set somewhere between 45 seconds and 2 minutes. The questions will differ between providers, and the employer may also include some bespoke questions relevant to your new role or the organisation’s requirements.

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What Is a Basic Maths Test?

In this article, we will explore the different types of numeracy tests that you may encounter, which will also help you to be adequately prepared and know what to expect. The resource packs at Job Test Prep are an excellent way to make sure you are well-practised before you sit your test.

Numerical Literacy Tests

These tests are also known as basic maths tests or basic numeracy tests. They will assess your ability to carry out simple calculations along with your ability to understand basic mathematical concepts.

Numerical literacy refers to one’s ability to perform simple arithmetic in everyday situations such as a trip to the grocery store or when calculating household bills. For these basic calculations, you will need a firm grasp of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

In the numerical literacy tests, the main elements of maths covered are the four basic operations, fractions and decimals, rounding numbers, finding averages and basic geometry.

Sample Question –
0.59 + 1.35

Choose the correct answer a. 1.95 b. 1.94 c. 1.89 d. 2.19 e.1.93

Whilst this question may seem fairly straightforward, it is important to note that you will not be allowed to use a calculator, and you will commonly be given a strict time frame in which to answer; usually around 20 seconds.

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Number Series Tests

These questions are not technically numeracy questions, although they are categorized as such. In this test, you will be given a series of numbers or fractions that are arranged in a particular order.

You will be asked to work out what the relationship between the numbers is and then use this pattern to calculate missing or subsequent numbers in the series.

Positions in IT, technical roles or cabin crew particularly favour these assessments, as do IBM, IPAT, and Onetest’s cognitive ability test.

Word Problems

An important part of a basic numeracy test will be the section dedicated to solving word problems. You will be given one to four statements containing mathematical information, and it will be your task to calculate the correct answer and either choose from a given choice of possible answers or type your own answer into the box provided.

Sample question:

Jon invests money into a bank of shares that have a projected accumulated increase in value of 4.5% per year. If Jon has invested £120, how much will his shares be worth in four years’ time?

You will then either choose the answer from four given answers or calculate and write your own answer.

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Calculation Tests

All calculation tests are very similar in nature. However, different companies will use slightly different formats for their tests. Job Test Prep is able to provide you with two practice tests that will follow the format of cut-e and SHL both of which have distinctly different format styles.

Both of these formats will give you a very good insight into the general configuration of a calculation test. By using these resources, you know that you will be well prepared for whatever your test looks like on the day!

SHL Verify Calculation Test

The SHL test is an algebraic test that presents equations with one missing variable. It will be your task to perform the necessary calculations in order to determine the value of the missing variable.

Cut-e Numeracy Test

The cut-e test is sometimes known as the ‘scales eql.’ This assessment is slightly different to the SHL test in that it is more about logical thinking than simple arithmetic.

In a given equation, all of the variables will be missing with only the result and the operators in position. You will be asked to work out which series of numbers would make the equation possible.

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Preparing for Your Basic Maths Skills Test

There is still a certain amount of fear connected to maths in general. Many people will declare that they ‘hate maths’ or that they are ‘hopeless at maths,’ but one good way to fight this fear is to make sure that you practise to the point at which you begin to feel confident and maths becomes less of a scary concept.

Your chances of securing a job or making progress within the hierarchy of an organisation will definitely be improved by a good level of maths competency.

Whichever job you apply for, it will be made clear in the job specification and application details whether a maths test will be a part of the hiring process. The test may be taken at the initial application stage or later on, perhaps after an interview; the timing of the test will depend solely on the organisation’s hiring process.

Typically there will be a minimum pass score on the maths assessment, but employers will also be looking at those individuals who excelled.

As with any job application, and any stage thereof, your best chance of success is adequate and thorough preparation. Here are a few ways in which you can prepare for your maths test: (It is worth noting that you may need to prepare for other parts of the application procedure such as literacy tests, interviews and presentations or group exercises).

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Take Practice Tests

Making sure that you practise taking the maths test in real-time and under exam conditions will ensure that you will be able to approach the real test calmly and confidently. Job Test Prep can provide you with suitable practice tests that will help you to do this.

By doing this, you will have a clearer idea of the types of questions that you may expect and where your own personal strengths and weaknesses lie. Particularly when it comes to completing the test under strict time conditions.

Knowing which areas of maths are covered in the tests will mean that you can have the time to ensure that you have sufficient levels of competence in all of the key areas. Identifying areas of weakness at the practice stage will mean that you can spend extra time revising and refreshing those skills.

Doing a practice test and realising that you have made the most mistakes on algebra questions, for example will mean that you can spend extra time repeating these types of questions. Repeating the tests will also help you to monitor your progress and track improvements in your performance.

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Know the Expectations

Understanding the rules around the test that you will be taking will also help you to remain calm and confident. For example, some tests will allow the use of a calculator and you should be provided with one, especially if you are taking the test at an assessment centre.

However, if it is possible to take your own calculator this may be a good idea as you will be more familiar with the buttons and layout. Make sure that you have checked and renewed the batteries if appropriate.

Make sure that you are fully aware of the time constraints of your particular test and that you are able to track how much time you have left. Practising under timed conditions prior to the test will also relieve any pressure you could feel if taking the test for the first time whilst not having any idea of how long things will take you.

Improve Your Basic Maths Skills

There are several simple ways in which you can begin to improve your basic maths skills even before you come to sit the tests.

  • Practise in everyday life – many of us rely on calculators, phones or other devices to help us with everyday calculations but how about trying to work out your shopping bill mentally as you move around the supermarket?
  • Try solving percentage or fraction problems at work mentally before reaching for your calculator. This will help to improve your mental agility – as with anything, practice makes perfect – and may also highlight any problem areas that you may have.
  • Draw the maths – sometimes just visualising a problem and bringing it from the abstract to concrete can really help you to find the solution. Drawing the problem using really basic diagrams or notations can help you to work step by step and make the answer much clearer.
  • Study aids – There are so many resources available to us nowadays and you can improve your maths using books, online guides, youtube videos, podcasts and apps. Fun games and apps are a great way to brush up on your maths skills where the learning takes place almost subconsciously. The great thing about playing maths games is that they are often based on real-life situations, puzzles or problem-solving.

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In summary

Basic maths skills are a vital part of everyday life as well as being the key to securing your perfect job. Employers use basic maths skills to measure the intelligence and suitability of future employees.

Whilst the tests may initially feel overwhelming, making sure you have prepared and practised will give you the confidence and ability to achieve a good score.

The resources at Job Test Prep are designed to give you peace of mind and take the fear and uncertainty out of your basic maths test so that you ace the test and secure your dream job or career!

Written by Karen Stanley

​​Karen is a former teacher of 20 years and ten times published author. She writes content for educational organisations and businesses, nationally and internationally. She coaches new and budding writers through to publication and is passionate about creativity; she runs creative writing workshops in schools and fostering agencies.