Mastering the BKSB Assessment: A Complete Preparation Guide

Ace your Basic and Key Skills Builder Test.

Is it your ambition to advance your qualifications and advance your career by furthering your education and training? Are you applying for an apprenticeship or for a place at a college in the UK or Australia? Are you seeking to advance your career opportunities? Is there a particular job on your wish list?

Take the BKSB Practice Test to improve your score.

If any of these sound like you, you are likely to encounter the BKSB assessment on your career journey.

BKSB assessment

What is the BKSB Assessment?

The BKSB Test stands for the Basic and Key Skills Builder Test. The initial BKSB Assessment is a placement test to assess your readiness for a place at college or on an apprenticeship. The second assessment, taken two years later, is to determine if there are gaps in your learning at that point.

The function of the test is to determine if you are reaching the Reformed Skills Standard. These are a set of standards set up to ensure that all students get the opportunity to learn and develop and give them an opportunity for career success.

Read on for more information on the BKSB assessment and the resources that will help you prepare for it.

What is on the BKSB Test?

Initial assessment

The first BSKB test assesses Math, English, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The tests are untimed as they focus on your skills level rather than on the speed at which you can do something.

The purpose of the test is to determine if you have the skills necessary to start a college course, begin an apprenticeship, or take a job in the workplace.

When you apply for a place at college or on an apprenticeship, your scores on the test will be reviewed to determine your suitability. For work placements, the test results will alert the employer about whether you have the skills needed for the job.

Diagnostic assessment

The second BSKB test is diagnostic. It measures how your skills have improved since the initial test and diagnoses what areas you still need to improve on. If gaps are identified in your skillset, then resources to improve on this can be put in place.

Already employers of apprentices are being funded to provide those resources to their apprentices, something that shows how seriously developing key skills is being taken.

The diagnostic test can be administered to workplace employees if an employer needs to determine if the workforce has the skills necessary for a job, to people taking apprenticeships and to students to assess their progress.

Who uses the BKSB?

Colleges, universities, and apprenticeship providers all use the tests to get a measure of the skills of incoming and current students.

Workplaces that use the tests when recruiting staff include:

  • Harvey Nichols
  • Halford
  • Mercedes Benz
  • The Military

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Is the BKSB hard?

The test is an assessment of how far you have come in building the key skills you may need for further advancement in a job or on a training course.

For the person who has worked diligently at building up their skills, it should not present too many difficulties. However, there is the obvious challenge of having to do a test and matching your knowledge to the questions posed.

However, in a world that encourages us to take career progression seriously, the test is challenging. Its results can impact how much further we can progress as well as impacting on our confidence in our own abilities. Add the factor that the skills you are being tested on are ones you will use throughout your life, and the significance of the test becomes obvious.

For both personal and professional reasons, it is a test we need to prepare for.

How can I prepare for the BKSB assessment?

BKSB logo

To prepare for the BKSB, it is advisable to get your preparation resources from a reputable test preparation company.

For this, we recommend Job Test Prep. With their many years of experience in preparing candidates for tests, you can depend on the accuracy of the information they give you as well as the test preparation resources they provide you with.

Recognising the importance of practice in preparing for a test, they supply you with sample tests papers modelled on the real tests.

The tests come in a test prep pack with detailed explanations of questions and answers and a means of checking your scores as you complete the tests. You also get helpful guides and video tutorials to make your preparation more thorough.

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What format does the test take?

Both tests, the initial and diagnostic, assess the extent to which you have gathered the skills you need in English, Maths, and ICT.

BKSB English test

The English exam can be taken either online or on paper. You can expect questions to be largely in multiple-choice format.

The test assesses your language skills and you can expect to be tested on:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Vocabulary
  • Structuring sentences
  • Putting sentences in the correct order

Some of these questions may be in sentences where you are asked to correct errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.

You can also be given a passage to read and multiple-choice comprehension questions to answer on it.

Some of the questions may ask you to extract information from the passage or to decide what conclusions the writer has drawn. Or you may be asked what the main point of the passage is.

This test is focused on the information contained in the passage, and you have to restrict your answers to the passage presented to you.

Test yourself with this sample English question:

Sample question: Choose the correct words to fill the blanks

1. Colorful and _____ outfits were worn by carnival participants in the main parade crossing the capital city.
A. Dull B. Flamboyant C. Indolent D. Somber
2. The main goal here is to test the ____ of this ____.
A. seriousness, proposal B. seriuosnes, proposal D. seriousnes, proposals

BKSB Math test

This, again, can be an online test or be presented in paper format. You can expect basic Maths principles to be tested here.

You will need to revisit the skills you learned to date and prepare for word problems also. Try your skills with the following word problem.

Sample word problem:

Chris has had three surprise birthday parties over the course of his life.
The first surprise party was for his 28th birthday.
The next one was x years later.
The third party was 3x years later for his 60th birthday.

How old was Chris at his second surprise party?

  1. 35
  2. 36
  3. 37
  4. 48

Here’s another example question:

1. Mike owns a collection of toy cars. 3/8 of the cars are green and the rest are pink.
What is the ratio of green to pink cars?
A. 3:5 B. 3:8 C. 5:8 D. 8:5
2. Janet bought a packet of Smarties in the supermarket for £2. Lucy bought the same packet of smarties in the kiosk for £2.40. Lucy paid ______ more than Janet.
A.25% B.20% C.15% D.10%

Doing sample tests will help you bring to mind all those things that you may have forgotten. It will also train you to focus on the question at hand and hone your skills in answering Maths questions.


The ICT test is a recognition of the role technology plays in information and communication in today’s world.

Expect questions along the lines of:

  • Safe use of passwords
  • Dealing with social media
  • Internet usage
  • Computer skills you have gained to date

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Doing your preparation for the BKSB

In an ideal world, you would be doing your preparation all the time. However, if you are like most of us and the exam has silently crept up on you, taking an organised approach to your work will help you get ready on time.

Try taking the following steps:

  1. Equip yourself with a test prep pack. That will ensure your preparation is focused on the task at hand, and you won’t need to waste time searching for other resources.
  2. Draw up a timetable and make sure you stick to it.
  3. Divide your study time into manageable chunks of time. Plan on doing 50 minutes of work followed by 10-minute breaks. Build in 30 or so minutes at the end of each day for revision. Working like this, you are making the best use of your brain’s learning power
  4. Make sure you get adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise while you are preparing. Your brain will thank you for it by working more efficiently.
  5. Leave the day before the test free for last-minute reviews and some rest and relaxation. Being tired or stressed doing the test will sabotage your best efforts.

Use your sample papers

This will ensure:

  1. You become familiar with the test and the style of questioning.
  2. An increase in confidence, which will in turn improve your performance.
  3. You can check your scores on each test you take. This will help you monitor your progress and tackle areas where you make mistakes quickly. Failing to correct mistakes as they occur will allow them to become a habit, and they will return when doing the real tests.
  4. You can face the tests knowing there are no unpleasant surprises waiting for you.

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And finally…

By working like this, you are not only preparing for a test. You are honing those essential key skills that you will call on again and again in the future.

If the BKSB is on your to-do list, you will find all the resources you need to ace it here.

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Written by Elizabeth O Mahony

With 25+ years’ experience as a teacher and state examinations corrector, Elizabeth now writes for the education and careers industry. Her experience preparing students for examinations and running an academy for supplementary education give her invaluable insights into what it takes for job seekers and graduates to succeed in assessments.