Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Essentials of Numeracy?

National Numeracy has worked with employers, unions, charities and maths experts to define the Essentials of Numeracy. These are the skills and attitudes that everyone needs in order to use numbers and data to make good decisions at work and at home.

The Essentials includes being able to understand percentages, manage your money and schedule a journey. It does not include the bits of school maths that you don't often use in daily life, like algebra and trigonometry.

The Challenge Check-Up lets you find out whether you have a good grasp of the Essentials of Numeracy. If you do, then you can get a certificate or badge as evidence. If you haven't got your Essentials yet, then there are resources to enable you to work towards getting them.

Registering for the Challenge via an organisation, employer or college

If you are taking the Challenge through an organisation, employer or college, you should have been given a link to follow to register for the Challenge. If so, you must use this so that you are part of the group for that organisation.

If you are taking the Challenge as an individual participant, please use the main website address.

Why can't I get the Challenge Online to work?

If you experience technical difficulties using the Challenge, please email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In order to help resolve the problem quickly, please provide us with the following information in your email:

  • The device and web browser you are using, preferably including the version of the browser
  • Whether you have just started the Challenge or are returning to it
  • If the problem is specific to a question, ideally provide a screenshot, or at least describe the question
  • What happened just before the problem occurred

When I view my wrong answers, the options highlighted are the answers I gave, why have I been marked wrong?

The answers highlighted in red are actually a reminder of the answer you gave, not the correct answer.

Can I see the correct answers?

We do not display the correct answers.

The reason for this is that the Challenge Check-Up is purely designed to work out the level of numeracy you are working at, and your strengths and weaknesses within that. To maintain its integrity as an assessment, we can’t allow the ‘right answers’ to be in circulation. We understand that people want to know which questions they get wrong, so we show this, without providing explanation. The learning resources area of the Challenge explains the workings of each area of numeracy.

If you want to know the answer to, or explanation behind, a specific question we are happy to take queries by email, you can contact us on

The number of questions I answered wrong doesn’t match my score, why is this?

Your final score is not a raw score, nor is it a percentage. The questions are weighted based on the level they are, giving you a scaled score for each area of numeracy. Therefore, for example, if your score is 50, it does not necessarily mean half of your answers were incorrect.

Who can use the Challenge Online?

The Challenge is aimed at adults (16+). You can register as an individual, or you can sign up as part of an organisation, college or workplace to provide the Challenge to staff, students, or clients.

Is the Challenge suitable if I have a learning difficulty?

We recommend that you speak to someone at your local college who can help you find the learning options that best suit your needs. Have a look at our guide to learning elsewhere.

Or take a look at some of our these links:

Can I use the Challenge on my Smartphone/Tablet?

Yes, the Challenge Online is fully functional on phones, desktop or laptop computers and tablets.

How do I find out more about the Challenge and National Numeracy?

Find out more about the Challenge.

Find out more about National Numeracy.

I'm partially sighted, is there an option for audio in the Challenge?

If you are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled we recommend Microsoft's 'Window-Eyes' screen reader which can be downloaded here. The screen reader can be downloaded for free by those who have a licensed version of Office 2010 and is compatible with Windows PCs.

I don't like learning on a screen, can I print out the learning resources?

Yes, you can print resources where appropriate.

Does it cost anything to take the Challenge Online?

There is no charge to use The Challenge.

Why are there so many questions when you register?

We have worked hard to keep registration questions to a minimum. Your name is needed for your certificate or digital badge, and your email address so that we can send you your results. Other details are purely so that we can look at numeracy across the UK by age and gender, which is useful as we campaign to improve national provision.

Will I receive a recognised qualification when I complete the Challenge Online?

Once you score 80 or more on the Challenge Check-Up you can print a certificate or claim a digital badge to show that you have the Essentials of Numeracy. This is not an accredited qualification, but an informal way to demonstrate that you have the core numeracy skills needed in daily life and the workplace. We are working to get the Essentials of Numeracy recognised by as many employers as possible.

If you have completed the Challenge and would like to gain a formal qualification, take a look at our guide to learning elsewhere.

Can I use the Challenge as preparation for my maths GCSE or Functional Skills course?

Yes the Challenge is helpful for working towards these qualifications. While some of the content of the Essentials is equivalent to GCSE level, we do not cover all GCSE topics. The Challenge should therefore not be used as the only preparation for GCSE, but can be a useful addition or revision tool.

How long will it take to complete the Challenge Online?

The time taken to complete your individual Challenge will vary according to how many topics you need to work on and what your personal goals are within the Challenge. The Challenge Check-Up takes most people twenty to forty minutes. This is then followed by bite-size chunks of learning and assessment which should take around half an hour each. The full course can be completed at your own pace across days or weeks and your progress is saved every time you log out or close the window.

If I start a college course can I still use the Challenge at home?

Of course! Use the Challenge in whichever way supports you best.

Can I choose just one (or a few) topics to concentrate on?

Once you have taken the Check-Up, the Challenge will guide you to learning resources on the topics that you most need to focus on, but will also allow you to look at resources in other topics too.

If I finish the Challenge and want to keep learning, what are my options?

The Challenge Online is designed so that you can continue to learn even once you have the Essentials of Numeracy. We also have a Learn Elsewhere page which contains information and options such as continuing your learning online or college courses.

Still stuck?

If none of the above answers your question, contact us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively you can call 01273 900298.