Dyscalculia Centre introduces free, preliminary test for dyscalculia
The Dyscalculia Centre has for a number of years now run an online diagnostic test for dyscalculia. Now we have introduced an additional free test which you can download and use at home and which we are hoping may be of interest in some cases.
Our long-established diagnostic test involves many in-depth questions which between them establish not only if the individual taking the test is likely to be dyscalculic, but also where the particular problems in understanding elements of maths exist within the individual’s brain.
Of course, this test is not the equivalent of a full report from an educational psychologist, but for a very modest price it is able to give both an indication of where problems arise (and thus where the emphasis should be placed on future teaching) and provide suitable teaching materials that allows specialist tuition of the individual to begin at once.
However we have often had requests, both from teachers and from adults who themselves feel they may be suffering from dyscalculia, for a simple test which gives a straightforward answer to the question, “Is it likely that I am dyscalculic?”
As a result we have introduced a very straightforward test which seeks to answer that question. It is a test that takes a short amount of time to complete, and it gives the answer.
As such it is not a diagnosis, but is simply an indication for those who seek nothing more than an indication.
If you feel that you might have dyscalculia, or if you feel that a person you know might have dyscalculia, you may find this test can help you.
I must stress however that it is very straightforward, and unlike the main Dyscalculia Test on this website it does not come with support materials and the like which you can use to help you to improve your maths.
On the other hand, if you feel that you would like to engage in a preliminary test, without cost, before you proceed to our diagnostic test, this may be of help to you.
To download the introductory test please click here.
You will find a wide range of articles about dyscalculia linked from the home page of our website.
Undertaking the Dyscalculia Test
You should read this page before taking the test, or working with someone else who is taking the test.
1: Taking the test
This test can be taken by anyone over the age of 8. However we do suggest that all children aged 11 and under should have a supportive adult sitting with them while taking the test, and indeed, unless it causes difficulty or resentment, everyone under 16 should have a supportive adult at hand.
It should also be noted that some people who have dyscalculia also have dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and both conditions can make it difficult for these people to take the test.
For an individual taking the test but who has reading difficulties for any reason, there is no harm at all in having another person read out the questions - providing that is all that individual does. Clearly, reading the question and then offering support or help will invalidate the test.
There is also no harm in doing the test in stages if the individual taking the test loses focus or concentration after a while.
Finally, if you, or the person you are working with, finds that you go through three or four questions to which the answers are not known, it is much better to move on to the next question quickly than the spend a while trying to work out answers to questions that you cause you problems.
2: What is in the test
Part one of the test (questions 1 to 30) deals with your attitude towards maths, how you feel about maths, and how you experience maths. You do need to complete this whole part of the test.
Part two of the test (questions 31 to 97) deals with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, shapes, fractions, decimals and time. It should not take more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
3: Using Calculators, Pen and Paper
Calculators and other devices that can work out mathematical answers are not permitted at all in the test. You can work out answers on paper or using your fingers, but you must not look answers up or get help.
If you are working with a child you should stop the child continuing if at any time the child is distressed or losing a willingness to continue with the test. The test can be paused and you can return at any time.
4: The age of the child: a note to parents
It is possible that a child might not be able to answer certain questions because the child has not studied that element of maths in class.
The questions here cover addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, percentages, fractions, shapes, and time. If, for example, the child has not covered percentages, fractions and shapes, then the test should be delayed until these topics have been covered at a rudimentary level.
The Reports Page
This page of the Dyscalculia Centre website provides information on the Report that is sent to those people who undertake the Dyscalculia Centre’s Test.
The Dyscalculia Centre test starts by asking the person taking the test to give their own opinion on their abilities within and reaction to maths in the area of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, shapes, and time.
The test then asks the individual to answer a range of questions in those same areas. The questions not only ask for an answer to a standard question such as 8 x 7 = but also seeks to explore the essence of number through more unusual questions.
We compare the results of the two parts of the test and also note the individual's age and time taken to do the test. From this we draw conclusions as to whether the individual is...
a) probably suffering from short term memory issues and thus unable to deal with many maths problems as they are not able to hold numbers in their head for long enough to complete a calculation
b) lacking in a fundamental understanding of what numbers mean and how the basics of maths work
c) solving maths issues through their own strategies which get around their own problems caused by dyscalculia - this can be revealed, for example, through the time taken to do the test
d) lacking an understanding of a specific area of maths-related work. For example, an individual may have managed, through hard work and the development of their own strategies, to cope with basic division, but becomes completely lost with fractions, due to a lack of understanding of the nature of maths at this point. Some are able to calculate issues such as "what is 25% of 95?" without having the slightest notion of what the question means.
From all of this we draw a conclusion as to whether the individual is dyscalculic, and we give our view on this in the report.
The report, which generally runs to five or six pages of A4 also includes recommendations of activities that the individual might do with a friend, assistant teacher, parent, etc, to help develop the STM/LTM interface. We then also forward a set of activities which can take a month or two, which again can be undertaken with a parent or assistant teacher or friend. These are based around the work that we believe that the individual needs in order to make progress.
The activities we provide are multi-sensory and do not reflect the classic methods of teaching maths, but are geared around the particular approach we believe is needed by the individual to help overcome the problem.
As the above makes clear, we are not so much measuring the individual’s ability in maths, but rather looking for clear indications of the genetic disability dyscalculia. A dyscalculic person may well be able to undertake maths calculations, just as a dyslexic person can learn how to spell complex words which may be spelled wrongly by a non-dyslexic person - because they have been supported in this, or because they have evolved their own approaches. We seek to understand exactly what is going on, and then provide suitable materials to help the individual progress further.
Thus the results should not be seen in the context of a set of maths tests based against the national average and hence normed against these averages, for such an analysis does not indicate dyscalculia (given that an individual might be poor at maths for all sorts of reasons). We aim to find the areas of difficulty that the individual has, and to supply materials that help them overcome these problems.
A typical report might note (in extract) for example that in the first part of the test the individual reported a large number of worries and concerns that he/he has with maths. We present these by area, with specific examples. The areas include focus issues, finding specific elements with maths very difficult (eg problems with times tables, not understanding "odd" and "even", sequencing issues, the use of strategies, anxiety over maths, trouble working with time. We then examine how this relates to the actual answers given, and how in turn this relates to the deeper knowledge of maths. This helps us find if there are patches of knowledge where maths has successfully be learned mechanically, rather than in regards to the underlying logic of maths.
For example (and this is just one example - we don't draw deep conclusions on just one example of course) we have the question
¼ + ¼ + ¼ + ¼ =
The answer 1 is obviously correct. 4/4 as an answer tells us that the individual knows the mechanism of adding fractions but is not translating this into meaning in the real world. 1/16 suggests that there is some grasp that not everything is added in fractions, but a complete confusion as to what is going on. And so on.
This leads back to the most fundamental point. A person might be very poor at maths because of dyscalculia or because of poor teaching, missed schooling, parental attitude ("I was never any good at maths and it never did me any harm") etc etc. We are looking to differentiate the cause of the problem, rather than simply say, "this person is in the bottom quartile for his/her age". Having done that, we then offer materials and methods for putting the matter right. In doing this we do, as you mention, highlight the strengths and weaknesses, and offer materials relevant to the weaknesses.
Tony Attwood C.Ed., B.A., M.Phil (Lond), F.Inst.A.M.
The Dyscalculia Test - parents
I’m worried about my child’s maths. How can I find out what’s wrong?
People who have difficulty in remembering numbers or with adding up, multiplying, fractions, etc, have a significant disadvantage in life.
Such people not only have problems in passing maths exams at school, but they also often have difficulty with handling money, telling the time, using a calculator, and checking their online banking.
These people may have dyscalculia - a genetic disorder. It cannot be cured but once diagnosed it is possible to help children with dyscalculia by teaching them maths in a different way.
There are two types of tests for dyscalculia: screening tests and a diagnostic tests.
Screening tests can tell you that it is possible that your child has dyscalculia but they don’t tell you where the problem is, so they don’t help in finding a solution.
Diagnostic tests include the “screening” but go much further - they tell you if it is very likely that your child is dyscalculic, and where the exact problem lies. A good diagnostic test will also tell you if there are any associated issues or problems, and how you can help your child.
On this page what we talk about is a diagnostic test. After a child has taken it, we review the results, and consider not only dyscalculia but also whether there are any related problems, and then we provide the materials to help your child overcome the problem.
Do I need my child to see an educational psychologist?
The only way to be absolutely certain about whether a person has dyscalculia or not, is to have a one-to-one session with a psychologist who specialises in dyscalculia. The cost is normally around £350 - seven times as much as the cost of our on-line test.
If you need an educational psychologist who specialises in dyscalculia you will be able to find your nearest one via Google. However please do note that educational psychologists do not normally provide teaching materials to help your child overcome his/her dyscalculia. Their job is to give a detailed professional opinion of why the individual is failing to learn maths as might be expected.
Should I have my child undertake the test and then give the results to the school?
We would always suggest that if your thinking is that the school is not doing enough for your child, you should talk with the school first, and see what they think. While many schools have welcomed seeing our report on a child at the school, a small number have rejected the report, perhaps feeling that it undermines their own assessment of the situation. And that of course is understandable. No one likes to be told they are wrong!
It is also important to note that an online test cannot be as definitive as a psychologist's test, and nor can it contain all the data and information that can be gained by a person doing a one-to-one test. What we are giving is an opinion without seeing the individual, and if we believe dyscalculia is the cause of the individual's problems, we provide some teaching materials that can help.
So if your intention is to present the results of our test to the school, in order to tell the school that they have got to take action, that may not get the result you hope for. It can be better to talk to the special needs teacher first, and if the school is responsive and you then feel it could be helpful, offer to have the test undertaken at your expense.
Who the test is for
The test is designed for children aged eight upwards.
Below there are details of what to do when you are ready to take the test. Please note you will need a debit or credit card to pay for the test before your son or daughter starts. You should also have a pen or pencil and paper ready for your child in case he/she wants to work things out as we go along.
When you are ready for your child to take the test…
We suggest that you stay with your child while the test is being taken. If your child has reading difficulties there is no harm at all in you reading the questions to your child - but please don’t provide any mathematical help.
You can also pause the test at any time to give your child a break, and then come back to it later. And do tell your child that there is nothing to worry about if some of the questions can’t be answered. The test is here to find out how we can help your child - not to pass judgement.
If your child becomes distressed or loses a willingness to continue with the test, pause the test. You can return at any time. If your child does not wish to continue, even after a pause, send the test to us as far as it has been completed.
Calculators and other devices that can work out mathematical answers are not permitted at all in the test. Your child can, however, work out answers on paper or using fingers, but must not look answers up or get help.
The test costs £49.95 when undertaken by a parent and this price includes the delivery to you of the resources that we feel will help your child overcome his/her dyscalculia.
Starting the diagnostic test
To proceed with the test please either:
1. forward a cheque made payable to Websites and Blogs Ltd for £49.95 to 1 Oathill Close, Brixworth NorthamptonNN6 9BE. Please enclose your email address and we will email you back with instructions for the test, and this will then allow you to move onto the test itself.
2. go to our on-line shop where you can pay via PayPal or credit card.
If you would like to know more about dyscalculia before having your child take the diagnostic test, please click here for further information about dyscalculia.
We do however recommend that you email as we do not always have people available who can help with specific issues on the phone.
A recent unsolicited testimonial
Here is one of the testimonials that we receive from time to time.
"I would like to say I am really impressed with the report and activities and think the procedure is very good value. Thank you so much, I am so pleased we did the test with you and have something to discuss at school where for two years they have been shouting at him for not being able to do 'simple sums' or making him feel frustrated for having to keep 'going back to basics'. We are both very grateful."
The Dyscalculia Test - teachers
The Dyscalculia Test prepared by the Dyscalculia Centre
The Dyscalculia Test is available on-line. Once you (or a child with whom you are working) has taken the test you will receive a report from one of the Centre’s educationalists on that person’s understanding of maths and whether it is likely that that person has dyscalculia. This report will come by email and will be with you in approximately 48 hours.
You will also receive a free copy of a set of materials that is appropriate to the individual’s needs and which can be used to help the individual overcome his/her mathematical problems.
If we find that the individual has no specific mathematical problems at the level at which the test is constructed you will still get a brief report, but no support materials. We will refund half the fee you have paid.
Before you take the test we strongly advise you to read the following two articles.
The test is conducted on-line, and you will be sent a link to the test so that you may undertake it in your own time once you have signed in.
The fee is £59.95 for a single test or £49.95 for a test if three are booked in at one time. Where three tests are booked together there is no time limit on when the tests are taken, and thus you might use the test at once for one student and then use a second test for another student a term or two later.