Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students

Prior to graduation, all initial teacher education students are expected to sit the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students (the test) to demonstrate that they have been assessed as being in the top 30 per cent of the adult population for personal literacy and numeracy. The test is an online assessment that examines aspects of an individual’s personal literacy and numeracy skills.

Between 2016 and 2019, over 80,000 individuals have attempted one or both components of the test.

The tables below shows the number of new candidates attempting each component of the test one or more times and the percentage meeting the standard each year.

Literacy percentages

Year Total test candidates % met the standard
2016 first time candidates 13,083 95.2%
2017 first time candidates 23,387 92.0%
2018 first time candidates 22,061 90.5%
2019 first time candidates 20,670 91.7%

Numeracy percentages

Year Total test candidates % met the standard
2016 first time candidates 13,084 94.2%
2017 first time candidates 23,465 92.3%
2018 first time candidates 22,007 90.0%
2019 first time candidates 20,702 90.7%

2020 results are expected to be available around May/June 2021.

The test requirement

Enhancing the capability of teachers is vital to raising the overall quality of Australia’s school system and lifting student outcomes. Action to improve the quality of teachers in Australian schools must begin when teachers are first prepared for the profession.

For teachers, strong personal literacy and numeracy skills form an essential part of the attributes and skills needed to be effective in the classroom. They are also necessary to foster the development of these critical, fundamental skills in students, providing the building blocks for future learning.

The requirement that all initial teacher education students possess personal literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the adult population has been in place since 2011 when the Accreditation of initial teacher education programs in Australia: Standards and Procedures were agreed. In 2015, all education ministers agreed that from 1 July 2016 the test would be used as the means to demonstrate students have achieved this standard.

This test, for the first time, provides a nationally consistent way to measure aspects of an individual’s personal literacy and numeracy capabilities, which can be reasonably assessed in an online environment.

The test standard of literacy and numeracy achievement equivalent to the top 30 per cent of the Australian adult population was empirically validated in 2017 with reference to the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. The test has been developed with reference to the Australian Core Skills Framework, the key measure for the Australian Government’s Skills for Education and Employment Programme. The test has been created in consultation with teacher educators from the higher education sector and represents literacy and numeracy tasks and contexts that can reasonably be expected to be within the professional experience of teachers.

Any initial teacher education student undertaking a qualification that enables them to gain registration to teach in a school setting is expected to meet the standard of the test prior to graduation. There are no exemptions or alternative assessments to the test requirement.Some states and territories also require prospective teachers to meet the test standard before registration or employment as a teacher.

Although higher education providers have the option of using the test as a pre-entry requirement for their initial teacher education programs, none have elected to do so.

Sitting the test

The test has two components, a literacy component and a numeracy component. Each component of the test consists of 65 questions, for a total of 130 test questions. The standard resit allowance affords students up to three opportunities to demonstrate that they meet the standard in each component (literacy and numeracy) of the test. Students should discuss options with their higher education provider if they do not meet the standard after three attempts.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is the test administrator and is responsible for delivering the test in selected testing centres and through an invigilated online environment (remote proctoring).

The test is available in set windows throughout the year. Key dates for the test windows, and the locations in which the test is offered in each window, are published on the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students page of the ACER Teaching website.

Students are required to register to sit the test on the ACER website and pay the test fee at the time of registration. The test fee is $98 per component, or $196 for both components.

More information about the test is available on the ACER Teaching website. Full size practice tests are available on the ACER website, as well as retired test items, practice questions and a Described Proficiency Scale which describes the skills assessed by the test and how candidates’ achievement of the standard required by the test is determined.

If you have further queries in relation to the administration of the test, ACER can be contacted at