My degree is in English, so applying to be a maths teacher was probably an odd choice. I’d worked as a teaching assistant for ten years so I was fairly up to date with the curriculum, but it was 18 years since I’d done my A levels, and I mostly worked with lower ability students, so my maths knowledge was pretty rusty. I undertook a 24-week Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course at the same time as working 3 days a week in a school as a teaching assistant… and living through lockdown. It was gruelling, and we didn’t manage to cover the entire A level syllabus, and I was so exhausted that when I tried to revise the extra content in my own time, I started seeing double. So, I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to pass the mathematics test that I was required to take as part of my Assessment for the Maths Scholarships, and just focused on my last SKE assignment.

Nonetheless, on the day of the mathematics test I was SO nervous! Because of Covid-19 it was a one-hour online test and because it’s hard to write maths symbols, it used a programme I was unfamiliar with. I was worried that a) I would run out of time, b) I would write the symbols wrong and c) I wouldn’t actually understand the questions!

Turns out I was worried for nothing. One hour was long enough for me to answer all the questions and check them twice (just as well, as in my nerves I had made some very silly mistakes) and the programme it used showed me exactly what I was writing as it would normally appear, so that if I had put my brackets in the wrong place I could address it.

There was a nice mix of questions. Some of them required a good deal of working out and others none at all – you either knew it or you didn’t. The questions were really clear too – no trick questions and none of the long wordy questions that catch out so many GCSE students.

It’s easy to say and almost impossible to do – but my advice is to try not to worry about the mathematics test. Just focus on being secure in the knowledge that you have and remember to check your answers so you can pick up on any silly mistakes. If you’re like me there might be a lot of them!

By Naomi Pendleton