*This is a guest post by Adrian Beckett, maths tutor extraordinaire*

## A background to the QTS Skills Test

The The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) Numeracy Skills Test is a scary test that all trainee teachers in the UK have to pass before applying for any teacher training course, even if they want to train to teach 5 year olds. Budding teachers dread it. Passing the test can mean the difference between pursuing their dream of becoming a teacher and NOT. Our goal at Adrian Beckett Tutors is to enthuse these intrepid teachers with our passion for Maths.

So what’s this test all about? And if I’m a parent why should I read on?.

It’s a test that has 2 sections: mental arithmetic and interpreting and using statistical information. In the mental maths section, you have 18 seconds to answer a spoken question. Many adults find this very difficult to do. You should read on if you’d like to improve your mental maths or if you are a trainee teacher and need to pass this test.

What does Adrian Beckett and his gang of Maths tutors (www.adrianbeckett.co.uk) want?

I WANT YOU TO FEEL CONFIDENT ABOUT MATHS.

In this post, I’m going to give teachers and parents alike, strategies for rocking at Mental Maths. The strategies I’ll give you are based on the way children learn maths intuitively at primary/elementary school.

## How to Learn the Times Tables

Over and over, children are told to learn their times tables by memory. Look – don’t get me wrong, you need to know your times tables quickly but when you are starting out – memorizing is not the answer. Faced with 100 facts to learn, it can be overwhelming.

**The 2’s** – I bet you know these because you know how to double and half numbers.

**The 10’s** – add a zero. E.g 7 x 10 = 70. Easy. Right!

**The 5’s**. You know your 10’s. E.g 8 x 10 = 80 so 8 x 5 is half of 80 = 40

**The 3’s.** If you are going to memorize any timestables, memorise this one.

**The 4’s.** Double 2 is 4 so if you have 4 x 8. Do 2 x 8 = 16. Double it. You have your answer. You could also use building blocks

**The 9’s.** e.g 8 x 9. Swich it – 9 x 8. So 10 x 8 = 80 and take away 8 = 72.

For the rest of the times tables, use building blocks. 6, 7 and 8 are the hardest timestables and when you are panicking, having some sort of support can be reassuring. Memorisation is no good for those panicky moments.

Check this slide out to see what I mean. Your building blocks are the 5 and 10 times tables.

If you want to do 6 x7, do 5 x 7 = 35 and then add one 7 because you’ve done 5 sevens but you need 6 sevens. 35 + 7 = 42.

If you want to do 9 x 7, do 10 x 7 = 70 and then subtract 7 = 63

If you want to do 8 x 7, do 5 x 7 = 35 and add 3 x 7 = 21 and then add the two, 35 + 21 = 56. Ok, that’s not so easy you might like to memorise this one.

Another trick is to remember the square numbers.

6 x 6 = 36

7 x 7 = 49

8 x 8 = 64

If you want to know 7 x 6 then you have 36 and add 6 = 42.

Some people find songs and rhymes such as I was sick and sick on the floor, 8 x 8 is 64. You can try this too.

If you’re interested in reading more please about how to become a mental maths whizz and pass the UK trainee teacher numeracy test, go here: TDA QTS Skills Test Tutor . See you on the other side!

*Adrian Beckett and his band of London Maths Tutors offer maths tuition for students and workshops for maths teachers. They also blog about maths learning for chikdren and adults, those all important maths exams and dyscalculia at www.adrianbeckett.co.uk/blog*