Numeracy skills

Numeracy is the ability to work with numbers, including the use of mathematical formula, such as multiplication, division, ratios and percentages.

Employers often look for an ability to reason with numerical data such as being able to compile statistical data in various formats, and analyse, interpret and present the data in a clear way. Numerical skills increasingly involve using online tools and software effectively, such as using Excel.

Activities where you could develop numeracy skills

Projects and assignments on many degree programmes can be a good way to develop numeracy skills. Similarly completing projects or research for an employer during an internship or placement can provide opportunities to develop skills using Excel and other data analysis tools.

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How is numeracy assessed in recruitment?

Assessing numerical reasoning skills is popular with graduate employers – particularly for leadership positions and those in the engineering and financial sectors. They are often assessed using online numerical reasoning tests which you can be asked to complete before an interview, or during an assessment centre. You can practice these for free using practice tests sites like Graduates First. To find out how to access free tests and other support materials use our webpages on Psychometric Testing.

On occasions, numeracy may be assessed at interview, for example a deliberately vague question to see if you can think things through laterally – for example “How many tennis balls are there in the UK?” Similarly, a question requiring mental arithmetic may be asked at an interview for a trading position in the banking sector or as part of officer selection for the armed forces.