Get a free numeracy workout on your smartphone
Numeracy skills can come in handy in all areas of life – from work and school to doing the weekly shop. But if numbers aren't your strong point, and all those maths lessons are a distant memory, your smartphone can help!
Recent research by independent charity National Numeracy suggests that only 22% of working-age adults in the UK have numeracy skills equivalent to a C-grade GCSE or above. And while many people do manage to get by, it’s something that can really hold you back in your personal and professional life.
But here’s the good news: it’s never too late in life to brush up on your numeracy skills. And thanks to the smartphone in your pocket, it’s easier than ever to do so!
Indeed, all of the apps we’ve picked out below are entirely free. Take a look for yourself and boost your numeracy skills today!
Maths Everywhere is a great starting point for those looking to improve their numeracy skills. It’s been developed in conjunction with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – and aims to provide practical, real-world skills and education for adults.
The ‘Everyday Tools’ section is packed with helpful features to help you navigate everyday numeracy challenges. From splitting the bill in a restaurant to converting currencies, it’s an easy-to-use and practical toolkit that could really save you time and effort in your daily life.
In the ‘How to Work it Out’ section, you can dive a little deeper into the theory with video tutorials sorted by complexity into ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Advanced’ lessons. These are each about five minutes long, fully narrated and with clear examples and demonstrations on screen. From fractions and decimals to long division, it’s a perfect way to fill in gaps in your numeracy knowledge.
Finally, there’s ‘Have a Go’: a series of quizzes that put your number skills to the test. The questions are sorted by topic, so you can focus on your weak spots, and if you get a question wrong it’ll give you links to the knowledge you need to improve.
All told, it’s a great resource: both practical and educational, and fully comprehensive. In our opinion, this should be your first port of call if you’re looking to improve your numeracy skills.
In some respects, CK-12 is similar to Everyday Maths: it’s a free app developed by a not-for-profit organisation, aimed at improving access to numeracy skills for all.
But it also differs in important ways: where Everyday Maths focuses on practical, everyday skills, CK-12 goes a little further into the more abstract, challenging aspects of maths, like algebra and trigonometry.
As such, it’s a great choice for anyone focusing on numeracy skills as a way to boost their career, or simply because they’re interested in the subject: getting to grips with the trickier concepts here will really boost your confidence.
It’s based around short video tutorials on each of the subjects covered, followed by a series of question-and-answer sessions where you can test what you’ve learned. The app even measures your progress over multiple sessions, and this combines the game-like aspects of the quiz to really motivate you and make learning fun.
Best of all, it’s frequently updated, with seasonal quizzes and challenges keeping things fresh. If you’re looking to go a little deeper with your numeracy knowledge, CK-12 is the app for you!
Fit Brains Trainer
Rosetta Stone Canada Inc.
This final selection is, without doubt, the flashiest on the list. Rosetta Stone have a long track record and strong reputation for producing first-class educational software – and Fit Brains Trainer is no exception.
Unlike the other apps on this list, which provide detailed mathematical knowledge, Fit Brains Trainer is more game-like, and that makes it considerably more fun! Indeed, Rosetta Stone claim the app has been ranked the #1 education app in 90 different countries – no mean feat.
The app centres around 60 different ‘brain training’ minigames, all of which target a different area. Some will sharpen your visual-spatial skills. Others will test your memory. Yet others will target your logic and reasoning abilities, or ability to concentrate.
Now it must be said that these won’t, in themselves, teach you how to do long division or anything like that – but in a broader sense, they can all help increase your mental agility and boost your confidence in your ability to tackle tricky problems.
The games feature great graphics and sound, and make use of leaderboards and progress-tracking to keep you engaged: you’ll definitely want to keep coming back to improve your scores and increase your standing.
All told, it’s an excellent app, but it comes with a caveat – and that’s the price. You’re able to do a handful of brain-training exercises each day for free, but for unlimited access, you’ll need to get a subscription.
The price for this varies, from £7.99 for a single month to £44.99 for two years – but whichever way you slice it, it’s not cheap. But for a daily dose of brain training, the free version itself is a worthy addition to your smartphone or tablet.
This selection of apps should help you boost your maths skills without spending a penny – but if you've got any apps, tips or recommendations to share, why not share them with our readers in the comments below? And for more great articles straight to your inbox each month, get your name down below for the Geek Squad newsletter!