As many of us played uncomfortable witness to Diane Abbott’s LBC radio interview over police funding last week, BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme talked about wide spread maths anxiety in the UK: the fear of and therefore avoidance of maths. We discuss what can be done to help to avoid this anxiety when faced with numerical reasoning tests.
Teri Fairchild, Corporate Coach and author of ‘Mentor Me!’ quotes that “53% of a person’s ‘on the job success’ is down to their cognitive ability”. Yet, according to Citizen Maths, many adults confess to experiencing maths anxiety: the fear of and therefore avoidance of maths. Many of our candidates express anxiety over the numerical reasoning part of their ability tests. Is it the test conditions which lead to this stress? Perhaps not, as the same level of concern is less typically expressed about the verbal reasoning test. Whatever your ability with numbers or how “good you are at maths”, the best strategy to overcome this anxiety is to practise. Personally speaking, one of my biggest challenges with numerical reasoning is the conversion of one measurement to another and which led me to score particularly badly the last time I was tested in this area. Luckily, I have found a free, online course which is helping me to overcome this! For anyone facing ability tests which take you outside of your comfort zone, here are a few pointers:
1) Read the instructions carefully!
This may seem obvious but it is easy to risk your score simply because you may have missed something crucial to the test which was in the instructions. Prepare in advance anything you may need such as reading glasses and screen size.
2) Manage your time
You should work at a speed you are comfortable with. You can get an idea of the speed of the test and your own work rate at answering the questions from the practise tests; the best scores will be achieved through a balance of speed and accuracy. Get used to where the timer appears on the screen so that you can easily check how long you have left. Make sure you can find a time to take the real test when you won’t be interrupted and/or feel rushed.
3) Familiarise yourself with online reading
If you’re not used to reading online, practise! You won’t have the time to print and read the questions in the way you would read your Sunday morning paper. Practise reading anything online such as the news or articles, make sure that you are comfortable with the font size setting and zoom your screen if you need to before you get started.
4) Don’t rush!
Balance your speed and accuracy – generally speaking it’s better not to rush even if you’re running out of time. Your score is likely be higher if you answer one question correctly rather than three questions incorrectly.
5) Practise practise practise!
Above all else, practise. Familiarise yourself with how long the test will take you, the sort of questions you may be asked and then keep practicing and revise any areas which you find to be more difficult.