University of Essex Numeracy and Literacy Test

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University of Essex Numeracy and Literacy Test

University of Essex Numeracy and Literacy Test

Numeracy test and modules


If you’re a student in one of the following departments and don’t have A-level or AS-level Mathematics then you’ll have to take our online numeracy test in your first week:

  • School of Biological Sciences
  • School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering
  • Department of Economics
  • Essex Business School
  • Department of Psychology


These modules run in the Autumn and Spring terms. You’ll be registered on an appropriate module depending on the results of your test. The purpose of these modules is to prepare you for the advanced mathematical and statistical material that will form part of your degree.

The modules aren’t formally assessed. You’ll be asked to take another informal test at the end of the module. Your first and final test results and a record of your attendance will be sent to your department.

Literacy and numeracy training

Working within the health and social care sector, NHS organisations or otherwise, you will be expected to have at least a basic level of literacy and numeracy. Working with service users and within a team of health and social care professionals you will need strong verbal and written communication skills and often the ability to calculate measurements and dosages.

Preparing for interviews

When you successfully gain an interview for one of our courses, particularly those leading to a career within the NHS, you will be expected to take a literacy and numeracy test as part of the process. To prepare for this you can find a lot of information online to support your revision and preparation for the interview day.

Nursing and AHPs

Nurses and AHPs need strong numeracy and literacy skills to register with their regulatory body and to practise safely as registered healthcare professionals. We, therefore, need to ensure that you will cope with the literacy and numeracy demands of our pre-registration degrees and those expected of a practising health professional.

  • Literacy

    The literacy test will assess your reading and writing skills. A variety of questions will cover the following areas:


    • Spelling
    • Grammar and syntax
    • Presenting information in a logical sequence
    • Vocabulary
    • Punctuation
    • Common prefixes
    • Free writing


    • Proofreading
    • Comprehension
    • Fact or opinion
  • Numeracy

    The numeracy test will assess your ability to apply number, to use measurements and to handle data. Calculators can be used. You will be given a total of 45 minutes in which to complete both tests. Question topics will include:


    • Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
    • Fractions, decimals and percentages – calculations, conversions and equivalencies


    • Time, weight, distance, volume, money, conversion of units

    Handling data

    • Extracting information from tables, diagrams, charts or graphs
  • Resources

    Literacy and numeracy practice tests



    Mobile Apps

    There are a number of apps that can help you to develop your literacy and numeracy skills. The following are all free to use. In-app purchases are possible, but are neither required nor endorsed by the University of Essex, and the University cannot answer any queries relating to their use.

    • Elevate
    • Learndirect

Karen Hudson – Literacy and numeracy for BSc Nurses

Karen Hudson -“Students can expect a lot of support with numeracy or literacy” Karen is a Literacy and Numeracy Tutor at the School of Health and Human Science and helps to ensure all Nursing students improve and become confident in these skills. Find out how Karen really helps to make nursing at the University of Essex a unique experience.

What happens if I don’t pass the tests?

You must achieve a minimum score of 10/15 in both tests and be successful at interview to be offered a place on the course. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to contact our admissions office who will be able to provide more detailed feedback.

Who can I talk to about access arrangements?

If you have a documented educational need, then you may be entitled to specific access arrangements for the literacy and numeracy tests. If you think that this applies to you, please contact us as soon as possible.

Contact us

For all programmes contact the relevant administrator (see the programme pages or the administrator staff profiles)

Tests and assessments

Practice psychometric and personality tests

Psychometric tests look at skills like logic, numeracy, technical ability, literacy, verbal reasoning, inductive or deductive reasoning, spatial or diagrammatic reasoning, situational judgement, motivation and personality. Some employers provide practice tests, but many don’t.

Online resources offering free practice tests and guides

Assessment centres

Larger organisations often consider a number of candidates together using a range of tasks, such as psychometric tests, group challenges, role play, presentations, in-tray/e-tray exercises and interviews.

Assessment centres are carefully designed to see which candidates fit the role and the organisation, so they may be considering your personality, your approach to solving problems and dealing with situations, leadership potential and overall ability to work in a team, and your commercial awareness, as well as further testing your skills and abilities.

  • Top tips to prepare

    • Refer back to the person specification for the role to review what the employer is looking for
    • Review your application and/or CV
    • Practice psychometric tests through our website
    • Research the employer, so you know all about them and what they do
    • Research their sector for broader understanding of their industry
    • Book an appointment with one of our careers advisers for help!
  • At the assessment centre

    Social events

    Sometimes there will be a social gathering the night before, where you meet the other candidates and employees from the organisation. You’re unlikely to be formally assessed during the evening, but first impressions count. Think about how you interact with others and how you behave – and don’t drink too much!


    Prepare as you would for an interview: dress and behave professionally, be punctual and bear in mind that everyone you meet on the day may be asked what they thought of you.

    Other candidates

    Don’t treat the other candidates as competition. The assessors may be impressed by all of you or none of you on the day. Getting on well with others and demonstrating the ability to work in a team will make the best impression.

Online assessment centre preparation tool

We provide our students with an online assessment centre preparation tool (restricted to Essex users only). This will help you prepare to stand out at assessment centres and includes information about the assessment centres run by several well-known companies.

External resources


This video was produced by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).