What do adult numeracy 'levels' mean?

A comparison between adult skills levels 

In England and Wales, the adult numeracy levels are measured across five levels, from Entry Level 1 (equivalent to the standard expected for ages 5 to 7) up to Level 2 (GCSE A*-C). Scotland and Northern Ireland use a system similar to international levels to measure adult skills.

The National Numeracy Challenge measures the numeracy you need in daily life at work and at home, and does not directly follow these levels, but the table below shows how scores roughly equate to adult skills levels. Scoring 80 or more on the Challenge shows that you have the Essentials of Numeracy, the core skills needed for daily life.

The Challenge against UK numeracy levels

What’s your numeracy level?

The National Numeracy Challenge is a free tool which you can use to check which numeracy level you are roughly working at, see strengths and weaknesses and get help to improve.

Try it now


National standards expected at each level are described as follows:

Entry Level 1:
Understanding information given by numbers and symbols in simple graphic, numerical and written forms. This includes:

  • recognising and selecting coins
  • ordering and comparing numbers up to 10
Adults below Entry Level 1 may not be able to select floor numbers in lifts, for example.

Entry Level 2:
Understanding information given by numbers, symbols, simple diagrams and charts in graphic, numerical and written form. This includes:

  • calculating costs and change
  • adding and subtracting two-digit numbers
Adults below Entry Level 2 may not be able to use a cash machine, for example.

Entry Level 3:
Understanding information given by numbers, symbols, diagrams and charts for different purposes expressed in graphic, numerical and written forms in different ways. This includes:

  • dividing two digits by one digit and understanding remainders
  • comparing weights using standard units. 
Adults with skills below Entry Level 3 may not be able to understand price labels or pay household bills, for example.

Level 1:
Understanding straightforward mathematical information used for different purposes and being able to independently select relevant information expressed in graphic, numerical and written forms. This includes:

  • doing simple percentages
  • converting units of measure
Adults with skills below Level 1 may not be able to understand their pay slips, for example.

Level 2:
Understanding mathematical information used for different purposes and can independently select and compare relevant information from a variety of graphic, numerical and written forms.

Adults with skills below Level 2 may not be able to compare the cost of products and services, or work out a household budget, for example.