All primary school-aged children are expected to know their times tables up to 12 x 12 by heart. In fact, they are expected to have mastered their times tables by the end of Year 4.
Until now, there had been no formal measure to judge whether children in England had learnt their times tables or not – with a formal judgement only somewhat made from a child’s Year 6 Maths SATs performance. So, the idea is for the Multiplication Tables Check to be taken towards the end of Year 4 to make sure children are meeting the benchmark of memorising their times tables up to 12 x 12 before moving up to Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5 and Year 6).
From the 2019/20 academic year onwards, all state-funded maintained schools and academies (including free schools) in England will be required to administer an online multiplication tables check (MTC) to year 4 pupils.
The national curriculum specifies that pupils should be taught to recall the multiplication tables up to and including 12 × 12 by the end of year 4.
The purpose of the MTC is to determine whether pupils can recall their times tables fluently, which is essential for future success in mathematics. It will help schools to identify pupils who have not yet mastered their times tables, so that additional support can be provided.
Schools will have a 3-week window to administer the MTC. Teachers will have the flexibility to administer the check to individual pupils, small groups or a whole class at the same time.
The Multiplication Tables Check has been described as “an online, on-screen digital assessment" – meaning the children will take the test on a desktop computer, laptop or tablet (such as an iPad) at school.
The times tables test will be timed, with the entire assessment lasting approximately 5 minutes in total. The children will be set a handful of practice questions to begin with – mostly from the one times table. Following the practice questions, the test itself will comprise of 25 questions, all formatted, for example, as 2 x 5 = with the child required to input the product or result, which in the example we’ve provided would mean inputting the answer 10.
Children will be given six seconds to answer each of the questions, with a three second blank gap between each question.
The questions will be randomly selected by the testing programme from 121 different options, ranging from 2 x 2 = up to 12 x 12. The test’s software has been programmed to show children more questions from the 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 times tables, as these are trickier times tables focused on more in Years 3 and 4. (The 2s, 5s and 10s are more of a focus in Years 1 and 2.)
Each child’s result will be passed on to their school, and the Deptment for Education will create a report on overall results across all schools in England to measure whether national times tables results improve over the coming years.
It is understood that most schools will not tell children their results or that parents will be informed either (but the DfE have yet to issue any advice to date).
One thing is for sure though – a school’s results will not be published in any public way, nor will they be used in informing any type of league or performance table.
No child will fail the times tables test as no pass mark has been set. It is also important to note that all children will be tested on is their times tables knowledge – with no problem solving skills being assessed and not even a single division question being asked!
Children in Year 4 will only be asked times tables questions, like 3 x 3 = 9.
We would recommend a number of strategies to support your child in the run-up to and after the times tables test including: