Finding ways of improving results in Maths and Physical Sciences

“I know that there’s a problem with Maths and Science, but I’m not sure how to address it – it’s so complex!”

This refrain is often heard when teachers talk about Maths and Physical Sciences.

A snapshot of Maths and Physical Sciences
Despite increases in the number of learners who wrote Maths and Physical Sciences in 2013, as well as the increased pass rates, the NSC Diagnostic Report reveals that learners continue to struggle with application in these subjects.

Maths and Physical Sciences remain the worst performing subjects, limiting the national pool of learners able to do a degree or diploma in Maths and Science.

Research has shown that the under-performance in these subjects can be attributed where learners have failed to grasp basic mathematical skills. When entering the subsequent phase, it is assumed that the learner has mastered the required competence. It follows that those learners who have failed to grasp the basic skills will struggle to achieve better results as they approach the exit point in schooling.

Assisting to improve Maths and Physical Sciences
It is evident that there is a need for teaching and learning interventions that actually improve results. However, interventions need to be based on reliable diagnostic data.

Pearson South Africa has developed Test and Improve, an effective diagnostic assessment programme for Grades 8 to 12 based on the Grade 12 matric exams to improve Maths and Physical Sciences results.

What is Test and Improve?
The programme is designed to test curriculum knowledge and skills, diagnose learners’ development areas and identify the sub-skills requiring intervention, leading to improved


Test and Improve has been piloted with more than two thousand learners across South Africa. Teachers have commented extensively on the value of this programme in a variety of focus groups. One teacher commented that, “this is an extremely valuable report to provide real scientific data and pinpoint exactly what the issue is and therefore provides a chance of rectifying the problem”.

How does it work?
The service consists of a paper-based test written by the learners. The test is CAPS-aligned. Pearson will deliver and collect the papers and the only involvement the school will be responsible for is the administering of the test.

Tests are marked and processed using psychometric software. Rich diagnostic reports are generated to inform targeted interventions to help learners flourish.

The value of diagnostic reports
Reports provide teachers with learner level, class level and grade level results. The reports are granular and comprehensive, and give a lot of detail about the skills that need attention, allowing teachers to design targeted interventions and planning.

Who will benefit from Test and Improve?
There are several different purposes that Test and Improve is used for:

  • Grade 8 testing to use as a baseline diagnostic.
  • Grade 9 testing to inform subject choices for Grade 10.
  • Grade 10 and 11 testing to ensure a firm knowledge and skills base for Grade 12.
  • Early Grade 12 testing to improve learners’ Grade 12 results.

Education helps people progress throughout their lives and at Pearson we take learning personally. As the world’s leading learning company we work hard to ensure we offer top class personalised learning solutions through our assessments, technologies and educational materials.

Learn more about Test and Improve

Principals and teachers are welcome to contact Pearson Learning Services for more



t: 021 532 6000

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