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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Skills for Life qualifications

If you want to improve your reading, writing, numeracy or information and communication technology skills, or want to show the skills you already have, a Skills for Life qualification could be for you.

Skills for Life: what they are

Skills for Life qualifications are designed to help you develop the skills you use in everyday life, such as reading, writing or maths. They can also help you boost your CV or move on to further study.

You can take a Skills for Life qualification if you:

  • are over 16 years of age
  • have left compulsory full-time education
  • do not have an up-to-date English or maths qualification at level 2 on the National Qualifications Framework (such as a GCSE)

In some cases, schools can also offer Skills for Life qualifications for 14 to 16 year olds.

As well as 'Skills for Life', you may have also heard people talking about 'Basic Skills'. The two terms mean the same thing, and refer to the same qualifications.

Subjects available

Skills for Life Certificates are available in:

  • adult literacy
  • adult numeracy
  • information and communications technology (ICT)

There is also a Skills for Life qualification in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Where and when you can take them

Skills for Life qualifications are offered on a regular basis, so you can take one whenever you are ready.

You can take them in your own learning centre, a local test centre, or in some cases at a driving test centre.

Study at a level to suit you

Skills for Life Certificates are available at a level of learning to suit you. The levels are:

  • entry level (three entry levels to choose from)
  • level 1
  • level 2

The Skills for Life Certificate in ICT is available at entry level only.

The different levels refer to the National Qualifications Framework. The framework shows how different types of qualifications compare, in terms of the demands they place on learners.

Find a course near you

You can look for Skills for Life courses near you online.

How you are assessed

The type of test or task you take, and how it is assessed, will depend on which level of qualification you choose.

Entry levels

At the three entry levels, Skills for Life qualifications consist of tasks assessed by your learning centre, college or school.

Levels 1 and 2

At levels 1 and 2, you'll take National Basic Skills tests. You can take the test on paper or on screen using a computer.

The tests consist of 40 multiple choice questions. For each question, you choose from four possible answers. You have one hour to complete the literacy test and one hour 15 minutes for the numeracy test.

These are the same tests that are taken for level 1 and level 2 Key Skills qualifications in Application of Number and Communications.


Skills for Life Certificates are marked as either a pass or fail.

Take a mini test online

To find out which level of Skills for Life qualification might be right for you, follow the link below and try a mini test online.

If you don't pass

If you don't pass, you can take the test again. In fact, you can take it as many times as you like until you do pass. However, each time you take it you'll be asked a different set of questions.

Where they can lead

Skills for Life qualifications are based on national standards, so everyone, including potential employers, can see what you're capable of. They can:

  • give you more confidence in your own abilities
  • show what you have achieved in your learning programme
  • boost your CV
  • help you get onto other courses such as NVQs

Find out more

To find out more about Skills for Life qualifications, you can:

  • visit the Move On website
  • phone the Get On helpline: 0800 66 0800 (lines are open from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm, seven days a week)
  • visit your local further education college

You can also find more information in the 'Improving your English, maths and IT' section.

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