Like a lot of people, I was always scared of maths. I hated it at school – somehow those numbers never made as much sense to me as they did to my peers. But because claiming to be bad at maths is seen as something to be proud of in this country – it’s up there with not being able to speak another language – I never really worried about it.

I’d somehow managed to scrape through O level, and somewhere along the way I learnt how to work out a gross profit margin, which was all I needed to do my job, so everything was fine. Until I decided I wanted to retrain as a teacher.

Suddenly I had the prospect of the QTS skills test looming over me. I wasn’t worried about the English and ICT ones, but the maths one filled me with fear. I tried the online practice test and ended up a weeping, soggy mess on my desk. So how did I get from there to where I am now, which is a qualified teacher who

- passed the skills test first time
- has the confidence to teach maths up to Y6
- is able to tutor pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 in maths
- tutors trainee teachers to help them pass the same test

The short answer is practice! The longer answer is more practice and a lot of help, and I began by dividing the test into its two parts: the mental arithmetic section and the traditional pen and paper maths section. I tackled each part separately, and in the next two posts I will explain how.

Related posts: Passing the QTS maths skills test – Part 2, Passing the QTS maths skills test – Part 3