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Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers
By Jenny Lawson, Annabel Charles, Trish Kreft
Critical Publishing LtdCopyright © 2015 Annabel Charles, Trish Kreft and Jenny Lawson
All rights reserved.
Preparation and planning: your career path into teaching
If you are interested in becoming a teacher, visit the Get Into Teaching website at www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching.
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Register with Get Into Teaching for personalised support and advice.
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ROUTES INTO TEACHING
To achieve qualified teacher status (QTS), some form of teacher training has to be completed. Initial teacher training (ITT) routes depend on what age range you want to teach, whether you want to specialise in any particular subject(s), any previous experience and your existing qualifications.
Whichever route is taken, ITT includes an element of academic study, at least 24 weeks in at least two schools gaining practical classroom experience, and assessment by classroom observation.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU NEED TO ENTER ITT?
Required qualifications depend on the age group you want to teach: primary or secondary.
If you don't have a degree and want to teach mathematics, computing, physics, chemistry, languages or design and technology, the ITT provider may offer you a subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) course as part of the selection process.
Bursaries may also be available for these SKE courses, depending on the length of the course.
Find out more about SKE – search for the SKE course directory.
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Classroom experience is also recommended and will strengthen your application.
If you hope to teach a secondary subject, the School Experience Programme (SEP), run by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), offers placements providing opportunities to observe teaching and pastoral work, to talk to teachers and to plan and deliver part or all of a lesson.
If you are interested in teaching at primary level, one way to gain classroom experience is to organise it yourself though local contacts, or by using the EduBase portal, which lists all educational establishments in England and Wales.
Go to the EduBase portal and identify all schools within a 25-mile radius of your home.
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The Get Into Teaching website at www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching offers good advice on how to secure classroom experience.
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WHAT QUALITIES DO I NEED?
* A deep understanding of and enthusiasm for your own subject.
* A positive attitude towards working with children.
* Advanced communication and interpersonal skills.
* Energy, enthusiasm and patience.CHAPTER 2
The Professional Skills Tests
Gaining a pass in the Professional Skills Tests is a prerequisite if you want to embark on Initial Teacher Training (ITT); the tests have to be taken – and passed – ahead of the start of ITT.
Details of candidates' bookings, the number of attempts and scores are recorded on a computerised online booking system and this information is made available to ITT providers. ITT providers may then use the results of the tests to inform their decisions as to which applicants are to be offered a place on an ITT course.
Failing to pass first time can adversely affect your prospects of gaining a place on an ITT course.
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This is the recommended process:
* Book a test appointment at a nearby test centre.
* Submit an ITT application.
* Prepare for the tests.
* Take the tests.
* Attend the ITT interview with test results.
There are a limited number of places on ITT courses so try to pass the Professional Skills Tests first time, and – to avoid disappointment – to schedule them well ahead of the start of your ITT course.
Passing the tests first time is the least expensive and quickest route. So, success is essential, and the key to success is in the preparation for the tests.
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WHO HAS TO TAKE THE TESTS?
All applicants for ITT courses, including early years ITT courses, are required to pass the Professional Skills Tests before commencing their course.
Applicants who haven't passed the tests, even if offered a conditional place, will not be allowed to start their course.
BOOKING THE TEST
The appointments for the Professional Skills Tests are booked through learndirect. First, you need to register with learndirect. All contact with learndirect is via email, so you need a valid email address.
The information you enter on the registration forms online must match the documents you will present as proof of ID at the test centre. If they don't match, you will not be permitted to take the test on that occasion.
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Having registered, you can access your details, book tests, manage your appointments and view any results.
Having booked a test appointment, you may cancel or reschedule, provided you give at least three working days' notice.
If you are unwell, think ahead to your test booking and consider rescheduling.
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WHERE TO TAKE THE TESTS AND WHAT TO EXPECT
Tests are taken at a test centre.
When booking the tests, choose the most convenient test centre for you.
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The visit will be for approximately 90 minutes, or longer if you have requested – and been granted – additional test time.
The test centre will have a waiting area with drinking water available, free of charge, plus toilet facilities that you can use before or after the test.
On arrival, you will be given an information sheet to read, which explains the procedure.
A copy of the information sheet is available for download from the Department for Education (DfE) website at www.education.gov.uk/sta/professional.
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The next step is validation. Your identity will be checked against the details provided when you registered for the test. Forms of identification and evidence as specified on the registration form must be provided.
If you fail to provide all that is required, you will not be permitted to take the test. The fee for the test is forfeited and another date will need to be booked. Since there is a deadline for the test, this could jeopardise your prospects of starting the ITT course.
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If all the necessary paperwork is in order, the test supervisor will allocate a locker key. Everything – apart from your primary form of ID and the locker key – has to be put into the locker for the duration of the test. This includes mobile phones and other electronic devices and personal items such as outdoor clothing, money, food and drink.
Eating and smoking is not permitted in the test room. No paperwork other than the primary ID is allowed in the test room: no pens, dictionaries, revision notes or books.
If you intend to retain any head covering, the test supervisor may ask you to remove the head covering so that you can be searched to ensure you have not secreted a Bluetooth device on your person. This can be done in a private area if you prefer, and this option should be requested during the validation stage.
Only once all your belongings are securely locked away, and the test supervisor is content that you have nothing that could be used to help you in the test, will you be escorted to the test room. Other candidates will already be midway through their tests, so silence must be observed on entering the room, and throughout the test.
Each candidate is allocated a workstation. Your primary ID will be checked again, and the supervisor will ensure the workstation is set up for the test you have booked. You can then start!
When you have completed the test, you should return to the locker to collect your personal belongings and then return the locker key to reception.
You will be asked to complete a short customer satisfaction survey; this is optional but feedback is always appreciated.
The test result is only available during this visit to the test centre, so you will need to wait until it is available. All tests are computer marked and a printed score report is provided.
There is no certificate; this printed score report is your proof that you have passed (or not!). Keep it safe.
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If you leave the test centre without collecting the score report, you will have to rebook and pay for another test.
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Test results are also uploaded to your account on the booking system within 48 hours of the test. If you don't pass the test you will have to wait until the result is uploaded before you can book a re-sit.
NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS
You are only allowed three attempts, and then have to wait two years (24 months from the date of the second resit) before you are allowed to try again.
The first attempt at each test is free of charge. If the first test is rescheduled, it is still free of charge. The second and any subsequent tests are not free of charge. Currently, the price is £19.25 per test.
Payment is by credit/debit card at the time of booking. Provided sufficient notice is given, fees for cancelled appointments are refunded, and the monies should be received within ten working days.
FOR HOW LONG ARE THE TESTS VALID?
Test passes remain valid for three years. If you apply for an ITT course which starts after the end of the three-year period you have to re-sit the test(s).
In accordance with the Equalities Act 2010, special arrangements may be requested if you have a documented medical condition or disability that would adversely affect your performance in the test.
* Extra time may be granted for those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
* A modified version of the literacy test may be given to candidates with a hearing impairment. The audio spelling test is replaced by an onscreen multiple-choice format.
* A modified version of the numeracy test may be given to candidates with a hearing impairment. The audio mental arithmetic test is supplemented by onscreen multiple-choice format questions.
* Candidates with physical disabilities may be given extra time. They may be allowed to bring specialist equipment with them to the test centre.
* Candidates with visual impairment may be allocated a larger monitor screen and/or large-print hard copies of the test. They may also be allocated more time.
* Candidates for whom English is not their first language may request extra time and/or the option to listen to an audio version of the question, to accompany the onscreen instructions.
Full details of what is possible are given on the DfE website.
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If you require special arrangements to be made, you have to request these and provide proof of your physical/educational circumstances.
Facilities vary from test centre to test centre. The majority of test centres are fully accessible but if you require special facilities you should check beforehand that the test centre you have requested will be suitable.
Some special arrangements can be made via the online booking system; for some an application form has to be completed. A response should be received within ten working days but more complex applications can take longer.
PREPARATION FOR THE TEST
Apart from making sure you understand the theory on which you will be tested, before taking the real tests, it's important to take the online practice tests.
Details of the current technical requirements to gain access to the tests are provided on the DfE website. Most operating systems and browsers are supported.
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Completing the practice questions and the practice papers provided in this book will reassure you that you can answer the questions correctly and earn marks, but it cannot prepare you fully for the onscreen tests.
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The online tests provide essential experience and practice in using the navigational features of the test, including how to:
* enter an answer;
* use the calculator;
* edit an answer;
* flag a question – so you can remember to go back to it, if you have time;
* proceed to the next question;
* end the test, if you have finished before the time runs out.
Entering an answer can be done via the keyboard, by dragging the answer or one or more ticks into place, or clicking on the answer. Full instructions are always given onscreen.
Doing the online tests also familiarises you with other features.
* A clock shows how much time has elapsed.
* A question track shows which questions you have answered so far – clicking on a question number allows you to go back to that question.
Note that there is a 'Help' button in the practice tests, and a 'Pause' button. Neither is available in the real tests!
The onscreen test facility checks your answers, gives a total score and reports on which questions you answered incorrectly, together with the expected answer. In the numeracy tests, there is also an option to work through a question using step-by-step support. The 'Show me' option gives the correct working so you can see where you went wrong.
Before gaining access to the tests, you will need to complete an initial registration with learndirect. Full details are provided on the DfE website at www.education.gov.uk/sta/professional, with links to the form that has to be completed.
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Copy the activation key so you can paste it into the registration form. It is an easily mistyped combination of letters, for example jhULiqgX.
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THE LITERACY SKILLS TEST
The purpose of the literacy skills test is to ensure that those embarking on the training for a career in teaching have the requisite reading and writing skills. The literacy test does not mirror what is expected of students of GCSE English, nor does it test the ability to teach English. Teachers are, however, to be sufficiently proficient to be able to guide pupils so that the pupils' written work is of as high a standard as possible.
In their day-to-day work, teachers are expected to read and digest large amounts of written information such as school policy documents, government guidance documents and school syllabuses. Teachers are also expected to express themselves well when writing reports on pupils or letters home to parents, or compiling reports for colleagues.
The literacy test focuses on three aspects: spelling, knowledge of grammar and the ability to comprehend a piece of text about 700 words in length. These three aspects are tested in different ways.
The spelling part of the literacy test is worth ten marks. The words are those that a teacher might meet in everyday working situations and must be able to spell correctly. There is no time limit for this section, but once the 'Next Question' button is pressed, there is no going back.
There are only 36 minutes for the whole test, and later sections may be more time-consuming, with much more to read and digest. Try not to spend much more than ten minutes on the spelling section.
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The spelling test will look like this.
1. The college makes full use of shared training [??] with its partners.
2. The [??] total from Parent Teacher Association fundraising events is now almost £500.
3. To qualify for the swimming gala, it is [??] that we win the next race.
4. Effective [??] between school and parents is essential.
5. Peter needs to have more confidence in his own [??]
6. In assembly, we celebrate the [??] of all our students.
7. Violet was reminded that her continued late arrival was [??].
8. One word is [??] with another when the two have the same meaning.
9. The student's behaviour was completely [??] in the circumstances.
10. The difference in their marks was [??].
To listen to a word you click on the audio icon: [??]. You can listen to it as many times as you like.
Type your spelling of the word in the empty box. You can correct your spelling as many times as you like.
If you have a hearing impairment and requested special arrangements when booking the test, you will be presented with the same list of ten sentences, each with one word missing and then offered four alternative spellings for each.
1. The college makes full use of shared ________ with its partners.
To answer a question, click on your choice and drag it to the position within the sentence where it belongs.
If you are already confident about your spelling ability, try the spelling part of the online test. If you are not so confident, or score less than ten out of ten, you will need to set aside some time learning how to spell the kinds of words that will appear in the test.
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The grammar section of the test is presented as a number of continuous texts, each incorporating some multiple-choice questions. For each multiple-choice question, a piece of text is presented with one part missing and the four options offer alternatives for that missing text.
If it proves difficult to determine what is a question and which are the possible answers, read the whole text through; it may then make more sense!
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In most aspects of the grammar test, only one answer is considered to be correct; all other options are incorrect and should be rejected. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to decide which is the best answer; see for example practice questions 125–128, where the correct answer is the most concise option.
Comprehension is a test of understanding the written word and is assessed using a single piece of complex text (600–700 words).
The comprehension section of the test requires careful reading and understanding of the text, in order to answer the associated questions. The text therefore requires reading at least once, and time needs to be allowed for this, on top of answering the questions.
Excerpted from Success! Passing the Professional Skills Tests for Teachers by Jenny Lawson, Annabel Charles, Trish Kreft. Copyright © 2015 Annabel Charles, Trish Kreft and Jenny Lawson. Excerpted by permission of Critical Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Meet the authors vi
Part 1 Preparation and planning: your career path into teaching 3
Part 2 The Professional Skills Tests 6
Part 3 Literacy skills 17
3.1 Spelling 17
3.2 Grammar 34
3.3 Comprehension 59
3.4 Literacy practice papers 83
Part 4 Numeracy skills 110
4.1 Number 110
4.2 Measure 123
4.3 Statistics 135
4.4 Presentation of data 146
4.5 Algebra 183
4.6 Numeracy practice papers 187
Answers to literacy practice questions 213
Answers to literacy practice papers 217
Answers to numeracy practice questions 220
Answers to numeracy practice papers 223
Show me: solutions to numeracy practice questions 225
Show me: solutions for numeracy practice papers 261
Literacy glossary 278
Numeracy glossary 283
Abbreviations and acronyms 286
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love love loveeeee Jenny Lawson. But dont get this book. $20! Come on people. Check out Furiously Happy and Lets Pretend this Never Happend. Both by Jenny Lawson