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)