Multiplication Tables Check: 10 things you need to know

    Published: 01 February 2019

    One thing that keeps coming up for us in schools is leaders asking how they can prepare for the Multiplication Tables Check. Clearly, the maths curriculum is so much more than times tables facts, however we understand that with any new assessment, leaders want to be confident about the arrangements and feel prepared for pupils to do their best. This blog explores the ‘need to know’ facts and then considers some key questions to reflect upon.

    First, here are the top ten things you need to know bits of information based on the 16-page document ‘Multiplication tables check assessment framework’, published in November 2018.

    What is it?

    The MTC is an online assessment for pupils to complete at the end of year 4 either on a computer or a tablet.

    When will this be launched? Schools can choose to be part of a voluntary check in the 2018/19 academic year. Subject to the approval from Parliament, the check will be statutory for year 4 pupils in maintained schools, special schools and academies (including free schools) in England during the 2019/20 academic year.

    What is the format?

    The assessment will contain 25 multiplication questions. There are no division fact

    What will be tested?

    Questions will be based on the 2 to 12 multiplication tables. There will be an emphasis on the 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 multiplication tables because these have been determined to be the most difficult multiplication tables.

    How long will it take?

    Pupils will have 6 seconds for each question. The check is expected to take less than five minutes.

    When does this need to be completed?

    The check will be available over a three week window in June each year.

    Is there a pass mark?

    There will be not an expected mark to indicate an expected standard.

    Who will see the results?

    Schools will have access to school-level results and individual pupil results. School level results will not be published in performance tables but will be available to selected users, including Ofsted, via the Analyse School Performance (ASP) data system.

    What about pupils who may need access arrangements?

    For the voluntary pilot (2018/19) details about access arrangements will be provided in the MTC administration guidance. Once the check is statutory, these details will be included in the annual assessment and reporting arrangements document.

    What about pupils who may need to be withdrawn?

    The STA will provide further the information about this in the autumn of 2019.

    So what now?

    As with any assessment, the responsibility should not lie solely on the teachers from that year group. From the schools I have been working with, leaders have found a good place to start is considering these questions:

    Are you confident that every teacher in your school is aware of the progression of skills?

    Do teachers in each year group understand the part they play in building towards these facts multiplication facts?

    Are the vast majority of your pupils leaving each year group with the correct knowledge and skills?

    The National Curriculum has now been in place for several years now, however when new staff join schools or move year groups it can take a while for people to be fully familiar with the expectations. The National Curriculum states that: ‘By the end of year 4, pupils should have memorised their multiplication tables up to and including the 12 multiplication table and show precision and fluency in their work’. The table below provides a breakdown of the expectations for each year group in terms of counting and the recall of multiplication and division facts:

    program of study x tables

    Ensuring that teachers, teaching assistants parents and pupils are aware of the correct expectations for each year group is one crucial step towards a greater number of pupils entering Upper Key Stage 2 ready to apply multiplication tables confidently to the new concepts they will encounter.

    Watch this space for upcoming blogs we have based on ideas and strategies to promote true multiplicative fluency and reasoning, which would support both the recall and application of the facts.

    Further support

    The HfL maths team are running half-day sessions to support leaders and teachers to feel ready for the MTC:

    9am on Monday 11th March 2019 at the Stevenage Development Centre

    9am Thursday 21st March 2019 at the Mecure London Watford Hotel

    For more details please see:


    Department for Education (2013) The National Primary curriculum in England. Available online at:…

    Standards and Testing Agency (2018) Multiplication tables check assessment framework. Available online at:…

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