Numeracy Skills Tips – QPSea Practice Tests


The Numeracy Skills assessment is about solving mathematic questions that are presented as situations using; words, diagrams, charts, tables etc.

You will be expected to have an understanding of how to work out:

  • Percentages
  • Rates of change and ratios
  • Applying formulas (which are provided in the questions), eg, to work out areas and volumes
  • Accurately reading  data from tables and charts

For the exam, a basic online calculator will be provided as well as a sheet of A4 paper to work on. Note: when I sat my exam, they only provided one sheet of paper. You could ask for more, but that would take time as the attendants are walking around a large room. Best to write small!

Exam Tips

  • As always, the clock is working against you. Because the numerical skills questions are visual based, I recommend reading the question first before scanning the information. Why? Some questions present information that isn’t relevant so you lose time reading it. Better to hunt for the information you actually need.
  • Some calculations are easier and quicker than others. If you know what you are good at and not good at, ie, I’m slow at working out ratios, I will skip that question to find an easier one and come back to it if I have time.
  • Do you have an answering strategy? What I mean by that is, what steps do to take to approach answering each question? I recommend a simple 3 step process:
    Step 1: Read and understand the question
    Before looking at the information presented, read and re-read the question if necessary to find out what you are looking for. The exam questions are set up in such a way that the answer of the first question isn’t useful for answering any follow up questions. So read one question at a time.
    Step 2: Identify relevant information
    Quickly scan the information presented, focusing in on only the relevant pieces of information required.
    Step 3: Work out the answer
    Work on your calculations. Check the answer twice if uncertain.

How to Answer Numeracy Questions

Let’s take a look answering some questions by breaking them down. Because there are different methods to solving mathematical problems, just note that I will be using my methods, which doesn’t mean its the best.

The followings questions are all sourced from the Numerical Skills Practice Exams found on this website. All of these questions have been created by myself and are similar to the actual exam.

Questions #1-2

Ryan has purchased a new pool and needs to make sure it has the correct levels of chlorine.

Question #1: Ryan had some left over chlorine. How many more litres of chlorine does Ryan need to ensure he has the right amount for his large-sized pool?

Step 1: Read and understand the question

After reading the first question, we need to work out how many more litres of chlorine are needed for a large swimming pool.

Step 2: Identify relevant information

Looking at the bucket, we see we have 6.5L of chlorine and looking at the table, we need a total of 30L of chlorine for a large sized swimming pool

Notice the top sentence sets the context for the questions but provides nothing relevant for the answers.

Step 3: Work out the answer

30 minus 6.5 = 23.5L

Repeat the same steps for the next question.

Question #2: Jane works at the local swimming pool where the 50m pool is twice as large as the largest residential pool. She currently has some left over 6 L buckets, all full of chlorine (shown below). How many more litres of chlorine does Jane need for her pool?

Step 1: We need to work out how much chlorine Jane already has and how much chlorine her local swimming pool requires, which is 2x the amount of the largest residential pool.

Step 2: Jane already has 8x (6L) buckets. The largest residential pool is extra large, which requires 45L. The swimming pool require twice this much.

Step 3: 8 x 6 (L) buckets = 48L
45L (for an extra large pool) x 2 = 90L
The difference = 90 – 48 = 42L

Questions #3-5

Tim is looking to make some changes with his expenses in order to save more money. The possible changes include:

Question #3: If Tim decided to implement all of the above changes, how much money would he save per year?

Step 1: Read and understand the question

We need to add up all the savings in the year.

Step 2: Identify relevant information

Looking at the chart, it’s pretty simple as all the yearly savings are on the one column.

Step 3: Work out the answer

240 + 295 + 55 + 320 = 910

Question #4: If Tim replaced his heater with the more efficient one, how many years would it take for the savings to equal the cost of the heater?

A   Between 3-4 years
B   Between 4-5 years
C   Between 5-6 years
D  Between 6-7 years
E   Between 7-8 years

Step 1: How many years of savings will it take to total the initial investment of the heater.

Step 2: The initial investment is 2250 and the savings per year is 295.

Step 3: 2250 / 295 = 7.6 years. Looking at the answers, the answer is E.

Question #5: Which of the four changes provides the highest proportion of savings?

A   Make own coffee instead of buying
B   Install more efficient heater
C   Install LEDs light globes
D   Change to pre-paid phone  

Step 1: This question is asking us to work out the best ratio of savings, which means the highest proportion.

Step 2: To work it out, we need to divide the savings by the initial investment for each item.

But do we need to work out all of them? Looking at the four options, a couple can be disregarded by doing a quick calculation in your head,  saving you time.

For example, the heater savings is 295 with an initial investment of 2250. To make it simple and to work out a rough % ratio , divide 200 / 2000 = 10%. The actual answer is 13% but looking at some of the other ratio’s on the table, its clear the heater savings ratio isn’t going to be good compared to the coffee and phone.

You can also apply this method to the LED lights. 25 / 75 is 1/3 or 33%.

Step 3: Savings ratio of the hand made coffee = 240 / 450 x 100 = 53%

Savings ratio for the change to pre-paid phone = 320 / 650 x 100 = 49%

The hand made coffee has the highest savings ratio so the answer is A.

Questions #6-7

Monica is re-tiling her swimming pool and has five half-full boxes of tiles in her garage.

Question #6: What is the total square metres (m²) of Side D of Monica’s swimming pool?

Step 1: Read and understand the question

Remember how to work out the area of a shape? I know, it’s like algebra and went straight into the ‘recycling bin’ after all the exams again. Length multiplied by height is the formula we need here.

Step 2: Identify relevant information

Looking at the diagram, the height = 2.2m and the length = 4.6m.

Step 3: Work out answer

2.2 x 4.6 = 10.12m²

Question #7: She is asked to re-tile the local swimming pool too, which is 518 square metres (m²) in total. One box of tiles covers 14m² and each box contains 60 tiles. How many tiles does Monica need altogether?

Step 1: This question requires several calculations. We need to work out how many tiles does Monica need to cover the total area of the pool.

Step 2: Identify relevant information

Total pool area = 518m². One box of 60 tiles covers 14m².

Step 3: Work out the answer

How many 14m² goes into 518?

518 / 14 = 37.

37 boxes of 60 tiles is 37 x 60 = 2220

Wanting More Numeracy Practice Questions?

If you find the Numeracy Skills section of the exam difficult, I recommend identifying those areas you are struggling with and practice on them as much as you can. 

Download the numeracy practice tests and go through them once or twice a week. Look online for other numerical-based questions and if need be, look for an online tutor to assist.

Good luck with the prep!

For further QPSea Tips:
Abstract Reasoning
Written Assessment
Literacy Skills