- Is it official?
There is no such thing as an “official” dyscalculia test – at least not in the UK, which is where the Dyscalculia Centre is based.
In Britain, the nearest thing there is to an official test is one undertaken by an educational psychologist who specialises in dyscalculia. The psychologist will conduct a personal interview with the individual concerned, and then write a detailed report. Charges vary, but £200 to £250 is not unusual.
What the psychologist will rarely do is provide materials or support to help the individual overcome some of his/her problems. Thus you will get a statement based on what the psychologist has found – but that’s as far as it goes.
This is in contrast with the Dyscalculia Test. Our test clearly cannot be as thorough as that gained from a personal interview and tests, but we do provide a report (normally about six pages of A4) and a set of materials for the individual to help overcome the most significant problem area that we have identified.
- Can I use it to get a job that needs maths?
It is sometimes suggested that because dyscalculia is a disability, then once the disability has been diagnosed employers should make allowances for this. This is unfortunately not the case. While a statement that says that in the view of this expert it is believed that the individual has dyscalculia can be used to gain extra time in some maths exams, it will not allow a dyscalculic person to take on a job where maths is needed.
We come across this most often with nurses who wish to take the exams that will allow them to prescribe and would-be teachers who need to pass a maths exams in order to get onto a teacher training course. In neither case will showing that one has dyscalculia allow the individual to by-pass the exam.
- Is the Dyscalculia Centre test normed against the national average?
No, our test is not normed against the national average and does not give a standardised score. What we look for are specific areas of difficulty, and the test discovers what these are. It does not say how good or bad at maths an individual is compared with the national average.
The reason for this is simple: it is possible (not least by using the materials and methods that we publish and advocate) to overcome many of the problems that dyscalculia presents. Thus the answers to a set of questions may well show how much maths a person knows, but won’t give an insight into whether that person has dyscalculia.
In other words the percentage of questions answered correctly in a maths test might be low because that individual has dyscalculia or because that individual received poor tuition at school. It is only by looking at the other factors contained within the test that a judgement can be made as to whether an individual is poor at maths because of dyscalculia.
- Adults / children
The test we have devised can be used by anyone from the age of 8 upwards. About 30% of the people who take the test are over the age of 18.
- I have overcome my problems, but I still have areas of difficulty.
The test normally reveals underlying problems, but obviously if you have already found ways of overcoming your dyscalculia we may not always see this. However there are specific questions within the test which do aim to reveal a situation in which dyscalculia is present but has been overcome.
- Can I see a sample of the test and/or a sample of the report.
No, we don’t reveal either the test or the report. Clearly if the test became widely known it is possible that a person about to do the test may well have seen it. Secondly, the reports we write are private and confidential and since they make reference back to the test in some detail, again the publication of a personal report could result in another person seeing exactly how the test works, before coming to the test. We are doing everything we can to avoid this, including occasionally making changes to some of the questions in the test.
- I am a tutor and want to put a number of students through the test. Can I have a discount.
Sorry, but no. We have kept the price for the test, the report, and the teaching materials that are provided with the report as low as we possibly can, and there are no discounts.
- I am outside the UK. Can I still do the test?
Yes. If you have a credit card you can pay online, and the amount charged will be converted from UK pounds to your local currency. You will pay the rate that the banks convert at, on the day you make your payment.
The test is in English, and the report we write is in English. There should be no problem in understanding the report, but the report will use English terminology such as “maths” (not math), and “mobile phone” (not cell phone) etc. We have had people from North America, Australasia and South Africa take the test, and none have reported any problem with reading the test.
- I am in a hospital working with a patient who has suffered brain damage in an accident. Can I ask the patient to do the test?
This has happened a number of times, and we understand that the test has proved helpful in determining where the patient’s problems are.
You will understand that the test report does not include any neurophysiological information however, but it does report if we feel there are any issues relating to short term and long term memory functions.
- What happens if you think I don’t have dyscalculia?
If we are not sure, we may send out a further test to you, for you to take when you are ready. There is no extra charge for this. We may also ask you for further information about yourself and your experience of maths. If as a result of this second test and/or request for information we believe that you are not dyscalculic we will refund half the fee paid.
11. Is there a training course for teachers who want to work with dyscalculic students
We don’t know of any such course and don’t run one ourselves. This is why we have developed the testing procedures and produced our books which teachers and assistant teachers can use with dyscalculic students, without any specific training.
Our recommendation is that you should have a look at these books (you can see sample pages by clicking on the link below and then following the link to “sample pages” therein).
- Dyscalculia activities 1: addition to division: Schools' Edition - copiable resource of activities to teach the four basic functions to children
- Dyscalculia activities 2: shapes, fractions, percentages - following on from "Practical Activities" this book assumes that the student has mastered adding, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Dyscalculia activities 3: Time and timetables - book of activities for pupils and students who have difficulty telling the time, following the sequence of days, weeks, months, seasons, etc.
Since we launched the on-line dyscalculia test three years ago, the team at the Dyscalculia Centre has seen thousands of males and females of all ages from countries around the world take the online dyscalculia test.
Recent analyses carried out on past test participants have revealed that since the beginning of the year (Jan 2014) 38.7% of tests have been taken by primary school pupils, 36.7% by secondary school pupils and 21.6% by adults (16yrs+). While the majority of people taking the test are resident in the UK, we’ve had tests completed in Australasia, Canada, the United States, Russia, the Middle East, South Africa, etc.
We’ve also had enquiries concerning our work from educationalists working in prisons both in the UK and the United States, and we are liaising with researchers at the Cohen Kadosh Laboratory at the University of Oxford who are using our test as part of their research programme. We have also worked with several hospitals in relation to patients who have suffered brain injury in order to help the hospital ascertain the extent of any damage to the maths-processing parts of the brain.
In relation to schools, we can see many reasons why schools get their pupils to take the dyscalculia test. For example, if a pupil is behind his/her classmates in maths while being clearly above average in most other subjects, then putting the pupil through the dyscalculia test can give a first indication that dyscalculia might be the cause.
What’s more, not only does the test provide an explanation, but if we feel that dyscalculia can be involved, it can provide a solution. The advice, activities and materials which are sent back to the teacher with the dyscalculia test report give the teacher an idea as to what steps to take to get the student up to the same standard in maths as the pupil’s classmates.
This goes for universities and colleges too. If a student is diagnosed as having dyscalculia, it ensures the university can put provisions in place that will help the student with their degree. This may be additional support and/or exam time.
But why don’t they just use an educational psychologist?
Of course, an educational psychologist can give an official and definitive diagnosis with a face to face assessment, and will be able to offer much deeper insights than an online test can.
However, educational psychologists are expensive - quite reasonably so given that the test is conducted on a one-to-one basis. And the level of analysis that they are able to provide may not actually be needed. If what is primarily needed is an analysis of where the individual’s problems are, and how they might be overcome, more often than not the on-line test is perfectly adequate.
Furthermore, the on-line test does lead directly into remedial materials, and it is these which are the most important element in the whole process. Some people do find being labelled “dyscalculic” helpful, some not. But for both groups, working with the materials that will make maths much more understandable is far more important.
Parents sometimes enter their child into a dyscalculia test independently from the school because (according to the parents) the school is either not aware of dyscalculia or, if it is, is not able to support students with dyscalculia because they don’t have access to the materials.
The Dyscalculia Centre takes the view that the best move for all parents who are concerned about a child’s well-being at school is to open a dialogue with the school, and we regularly give this advice. However, we can’t make this dialogue happen. Therefore we do allow parents to arrange for the test to be taken directly, and our experience is that most parents can work satisfactorily with the materials we provide. Our one caveat is the fact that it is not normally possible for a parent who is dyscalculic to work satisfactorily with a child with dyscalculia.
We see a number of adults take the test, and it is here that we see a number of reasons why a diagnosis is wanted. Some have found our test helpful when talking with universities and colleges, and again where requested we have liaised with such institutions and have built up a considerable knowledge as to the way in which different establishments deal with students who have dyscalculia.
Other adults wish to take the test because they are struggling with parts of their job where numbers and maths are involved. In these cases, we must admit that our analysis does not necessarily offer the diagnosis that they are looking for, but then we do offer support activities and materials to enable them to improve at maths and in specific areas of their job.
The oldest person to take the test thus far was 66 years old, and the reason she gave for taking the test was because she simply wanted to know! This is probably the most common reason why adults take the test, because an awareness of dyscalculia just didn’t exist when they were at school.