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On the 14 February 2018, the Department for Education announced changes to the professional skills tests, these changes included: unlimited resits of the tests, with the first three numeracy and literacy attempts free of charge and the removal of the lock-out period that previously prevented candidates who were unsuccessful after three attempts from re-taking tests for two years.
This was an important announcement and change by the Department of Education and welcomed by many. It instantly took pressure away from anyone about to take the test and those planning to take it before September 2018. It also re-opened the door to many that were in the two year lock-out period and allowed them to start revising for the test, with the hope of passing again and re-applying for their teaching place.
So, we all agree that it was a welcome announcement? Well, yes and no! Whilst it indeed takes a lot of pressure off of students attempting to revise the test, it doesn't help those people to actually pass the test. The test hasn't changed and the pass mark is still the same. From this point of view nothing has changed.
As I write this in November 2018, many people continue to fail the test, in fact more people fail now than before the changes. It is simple to see the reason's why. Previously each of the three attempts was something not to be wasted and the test shouldn't be attempted until you are fully prepared and fairly sure of passing (using practice tests to see what score you are getting). Now the test is often taken frivolously with little or no preparation and unsurprisingly this has increased the number of failures.
Let's have a look at what can happen now, when someone has failed their first attempt, compared to what happened previously. Now the temptation is to re-book the test for the following week (even the next day in some cases!) where as previously most students would allow themselves more time to revise and practice (or get help from a tutor). Having unlimited attempts has incentivised many to just 'give it a go'. The only other test that I can compare this too is a driving test. If you fail a driving test you can re-book when you like but I'm sure we would all agree that taking it again a few days later wouldn't be a good idea!
The most successful candidates, that I have seen, are the ones that still approach the test in the same way as before but treat the removal of the 'three tests' rule as a bonus, that helps to alleviate a bit of the pressure. They will usually pass the test in the first three attempts anyway, as they have given themselves the time to improve their weak areas of numeracy and gain confidence at the test.