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Functional Skills

How to Pass Functional Skills Exam | Math, English & ICT


Lead Academy

12 Mins Read

Functional Skills are the essential core skills of a person that enables them to solve real-life problems in their personal and professional lives. For instance, there are 3 dominant Functional Skills are there and these are basic Maths, ICT or English skills.

This blog provides a comprehensive idea about Functional Skills and how to pass
Functional Skills exams.

Functional Skills Exam

The UK Government introduced Functional Skills qualifications to enhance the skills of students of England in the topics of ICT, Numeracy, and Literacy. To achieve these qualifications, a student needs to sit for Functional Skills examinations on Maths, ICT and English and pass them accordingly. There are 5 levels of the Functional Skills exam. These levels are Entry Level 1-3, Level 1 and Level 2. We will focus on two distinctive levels which are:

  • Level 1 and
  • Level 2

Level 1:

Level 1 is equivalent to the learners of the literacy level of age 5 to 7. According to GCSE grades, level 1equallent to grades D-G.

Level 2:
Learners with a literacy level of 7 to 9 are categorised as Level 2. Level 2 falls in the GCSE grade of A-C.

Functional Skills Pass Rate

To know how to pass Functional Skills exams, we need to look through some Functional Skills pass rates beforehand. These stats can give us an overview of the current situation of the students related to the Functional Skill subjects.

We are analysing the datasheet from Pearson to evaluate the Functional Skills pass rate of

  1. Maths
  2. English and
  3. ICT

The overall pass rate of Functional Skills of students in the year 2020/21 is given below:

After carefully going through these statistics, it is very evident that many students are struggling to pass these examinations. Most of the time, it is seen that the students who are taking the Functional Skills exam for the second time after failing the first tend to fail again.

So, it is very much essential to go through rigorous learning, revisions and practice.

A boy is attentively doing maths on an exercise paper

How to Pass in Maths

Maths is one of the core subjects of Functional Skills qualification. Without a basic understanding and mastery of the fundamental mathematical concepts, a student will fail to solve any real-world problems related to maths. He will be unable to pursue higher education as maths is the core part of many disciplines of higher education.

Let us see what the topics that are focused on during the Maths Functional Skill are.


The syllabus of the Maths Functional Skills exam for both level 1 and level 2 is divided into 3 similar sections. But the contents inside these 3 sections vary in difficulty level as the level increases from 1 to 2. These 3 sections are:

  • Using the numbers and number system- whole numbers, fractions, decimals and percentages.
  • Using common measures, shape and space.
  • Handling information and data.

There are several contents clustered in these sections mentioned above. During the examination, these topics are presented in two separate booklets based on the use of a calculator. The time allotted for the non-calculator part is 25 minutes and the calculator part is 1 hour and 30 mins.

Now, the question arises, how to pass Functional Skills in maths? The answer to this question is easy because to pass, we need to follow a simple 3 step routine. These are

  1. Practice the past papers.
  2. Review and follow the suggestions and utilise the resources
  3. Stay in touch with the tips and tricks.

Past Papers

To get an idea of the question pattern, and the type of questions, there is no better place than to look into the past papers. A student can overview the questions and practice accordingly. This will help him to get an idea about how to pass Functional Skills of math by practising the topics that comes frequently in the exams. There are various boards to look out for when searching for past papers.

With a slight variation, most of the questions of the exam bodies are the same.

The notable boards whose past papers are worth practising are:- Edexcel, City of Guilds, NCFE, AQA, Open Awards, Highfield Qualifications and Pass Functional Skills.

Suggestions and Resources

To know how to pass Functional Skills in maths, a student can look for various resources as well both online and offline. Schools can provide a learner with a wide range of classroom resources and suggestions. For example, schools can conduct various assessments and take mock tests. A private home tutor can also provide gear up a student in maths by taking various tests.

Moreover, a wide number of online providers can also provide a huge number of suggestions and resources. These are Edexcel, City of Guilds, Pearson and many more.

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Tips and Tricks

A learner needs to work out a range of topics in a limited amount of time while they are sitting for the Functional Skills maths exam. These topics are graphs, charts, diagrams, and calculations which are both mental as well as done by calculators. So, a number of tips and tricks can give the examinee the required edge to crunch the paper in time.

Some of these tips that might help a student to pass are

  • Proper allotment of time.
  • Show proper and correct workout.
  • Keep calculators ready on the go.
  • Don’t stress on hard questions.
  • Keep a fresh mind always.
  • Practice like there is no tomorrow.

A little girl is enjoying reading a children's picture book by Dr Seuss

How to Pass in English

The Fundamental Skills qualification examination of English is very much important. This is important because passing this will improve the English skills of a student as well as assist him in work and life.

English paper is divided into 3 parts. 1. Writing and 2. Reading and 3. Speaking, Listening and Communicating. A learner needs to pass in all of the parts in order to pass overall in English.


Similar to maths, the syllabus of the English subject for the Functional Skill qualification exam is quite similar for both levels 1 and 2. But the content varies as well as difficulties increase as we move from Level 1 to 2. A short overview of the entire syllabus is given below

  1. Speaking, Listening and Communicating: Different forms of speaking, listening, and communication activities should be practised by students. Simple narratives, facts, and directions, as well as short remarks, explanations, conversations, questions, and exchanges, are all included.
  2. Reading: Students should practice reading various forms of texts such as descriptions, short narratives etc.
  3. Writing: Writing includes practising the writing of different types of texts such as short, simple messages and notes.

All these 3 sections contain a variety of related subtopics.

Past Papers

Past papers can provide a lot of insights about how to pass Functional Skills exams in the English subject. There are various online providers like Pearson, City of Guilds, NCFE that has a huge collection of papers from various boards. A learner can practice certain skills by going through these papers. Other than these, there are also many offline papers found in bookstores.

Suggestions and Resources

How to pass the Functional Skills exam in English? This question immediately comes across the minds of the learners when they see the past papers and the syllabus.

Well, the short answer is being well prepared for the exams will help you pass them easily. To take preparation, a student has to read various resources such as classroom resources and online. These resources include mock tests, 10-minute assessments, online assessments etc.

The most reliable online resources are City of Guilds, Edexcel, Pearson etc.

Tips and Tricks

Following a few important tips and tricks can help you to pass the Functional Skills exam in English. These tips and tricks can act as icing on the cake to your preparations. These tips and tricks are:

  • Use the text and paraphrase.
  • Read without prejudice.
  • Give a long enough response.
  • Mark up the question paper. Underline, use highlighters etc.
  • Read the text first carefully.
  • Use bullet points numbered lists.
  • Use headings and subheadings.
  • Don’t write less than the word limit. Avoid writing excess than the word limit.
  • Take care of the use of formal and informal words.
  • Plan before writing.
  • Revise the finished writing multiple times.
  • Practice mock writings at home to increase speed and thinking ability.

A girl working on her laptop, surrounded by a bookshelf and a cup of tea.

How to pass in ICT

Functional Skills in ICT qualification is necessary for the students to have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of computers as well as other ICT related topics. Passing this exam and acquiring this qualification is very much necessary for any learner in this era of tech. Without having the knowledge, skills and qualifications, they will stumble across every step of life because ICT is embedded in every sphere of our lives.


The contents of the syllabus of the Functional Skills ICT exam for levels 1 and 2 are quite different. As usual, the level of difficulty changes as moving on to a higher level. There are 5 main sections on which the ICT syllabus is designed for both levels. These sections are

  1. Interact with ICT for a given purpose.
  2. Follow recommended safe practices.
  3. Find given information from an ICT-based source.
  4. Enter and edit single items of information.
  5. Use ICT-based communication.

Functional Skills ICT Level 1 and Level 2 Past Papers

The past papers give the learners the opportunity to practice a variety of tasks and questions that appear in the Functional Skills ICT exam. Many confusions regarding various sections can also be cleared by practising the past ICT papers. The ICT past papers for both levels 1 and 2 are available both online and offline.

Suggestions and Resources

To do well in the Functional Skills ICT exam, a student needs to practice the resources as well as follow the suggestions. School is the first and reliable resource so a learner needs to learn and sit for the mock assessments, timed assessments of school. Moreover, many great suggestions and resources can be found online such as Pearson, Edexcel, City of Guilds etc.

Tips and Tricks

There are a few tips and tricks on how to pass the Functional Skills ICT exam. These tips and tricks will help a student to ace their exams with ease.

These tips and tricks are:

  • Organise files in proper folders with suitable names.
  • Make efficient internet search to find information.
  • Compose emails correctly with the relevant subject lines.
  • Practice creating digital posters, flyers and documents.
  • Insert, Resize images correctly.
  • Keep yourself updated with online security and safety.
  • Practice immensely.

Online Exam Pass Tips

There are a number of online providers that give Functional Skills examinations. But we should choose trustworthy Ofqual regulated such as Pearson, city of guilds, pass Functional Skills, NCFE, AQA etc.

Sitting for an online exam is greatly different from that of an offline exam. There are a few essential tips that we should keep in mind when choosing to give the qualifications exams online. These are:

  • Maintain a stage, fast, wired internet connection.
  • A good and clear webcam.
  • Have access to a decent headset with a working microphone.
  • Use a good laptop or a desktop computer to take the exam.
  • Always have a backup of power and internet.
  • Choose to give the exam in a quiet environment.

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Online course

To pass Functional Skills examinations of Maths, ICT and English, good preparation is very essential. There are a number of online providers that offer very detailed and designed courses that give thorough instructions about how to pass Functional Skills exams.

There are also a few specific courses that emphasise level 2 of Functional Skills of math and English.

These courses provide video tutorials as well as interactive materials which are a great supplementary source for the preparation of the Functional Skills qualification exam.

Offline Exam Tips

A few tips can help you to do comparatively well when you sit for an offline exam. These are

  • Do a thorough revision before the exam.
  • Don’t stress.
  • Get adequate sleep, don’t stay up all night revising.
  • Manage your time accordingly.
  • Reach early in the exam venue.
  • Keep your stationery perfect.

Students having a good time in a colourful class environment

Offline Courses

There are many institutions and schools throughout the UK that provides various offline courses. These institutions provide many booklets that contain exercises and techniques explaining how to pass Functional Skills exams. They provide many opportunities for assessments such as mock tests, pre-tests etc.

Offline vs Online Which is Better?

Offline vs Online, both of these modes of taking Functional Skills examinations have their own perks as well as disadvantages. First of all, regarding the offline exam, it has many benefits such as the examinee can ask invigilators regarding any question error or confusion. This will prevent the wrong answering of the questions.

This facility cannot be availed during the online examination. Moreover, while sitting for an online examination, there are a lot of possibilities of experiencing unavoidable technical issues.

But, given the pandemic situation currently, people prefer online exams

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

A few FAQs related to how to pass Functional Skills are discussed below:

What is the pass mark for Functional Skills?

The pass marks of Functional Skills vary from subject to subject as well as paper to paper. Pass marks for Maths Level 1 and Level 2 range from 32-37 marks.

Pass marks for English reading  Level 1 range from 14-16 marks, writing ranges from 21-23 marks. Level 2 reading ranges from 13-15 marks and writing ranges from 21-23 marks. Pass marks for ICT level 1 range from 40-42 marks and Level 2 ranges from 47-49 marks.

How many times can you resit Functional Skills?

Learners can resit as many times as they want but every time, they need to make new registration for both Level 1 and Level 2.

Are Functional Skills level 2 hard?

Technically, it’s not hard but a learner needs to complete and pass Level 1 for Learning and attending Level 2.

Attentive children doing their classwork on a table


Functional Skills are very much essential for a person because, without their qualification, a university or college education is impossible. Moreover, without Functional Skills qualification in Maths, ICT and English, a person will stumble across many barriers in life as well as work.

So, for a successful future, we need to know how to pass Functional Skills and prepare for achieving Functional Skills qualifications.

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