The Multiplication Tables Check is a formal test which takes place in the summer term of Year 4. The Multiplication Tables Check (MTC) was officially announced by the Department for Education (DfE) in September 2017. It has been compulsory for children in Year 4 since the summer term of 2022. 

Primary-school children are expected to know all their times tables up to 12×12. Under the current National Curriculum, children are supposed to know all their times tables by the end of Year 4, but they were not formally tested on them other than through multiplication questions in the Year 6 maths SATs. Children with special educational needs will be provided for when taking the MTC.

The DfE says that the check is part of a new focus on mastering numeracy, giving children the skills and knowledge they need for secondary school and beyond. The purpose of the MTC is to determine whether Y4 pupils can recall their multiplication tables fluently (being able to answer times tables questions accurately and quickly, without having to work out the answers).

Children will be tested using an on-screen check (on a computer or a tablet), where they will have to answer multiplication questions against the clock.

This was the first test that was computerised in primary schools. Calculators and wall displays that could provide children with answers will be removed from the room the MTC is taking place in.

The test will last no longer than 5 minutes and is similar to other tests already used by primary schools. Their answers will be marked instantly.

Children will have 6 seconds to answer each question in a series of 25. Each question will be worth one mark and be presented to the child in this format: 6 x 7 = ____ 

Questions will be selected from the 121 number facts that make up the multiplication tables from 2 to 12, with a particular focus on the 6, 7, 8, 9 and 12 times tables as they are considered to be the most challenging. Each question will only appear once in any 25-question series, and children won’t be asked to answer reversals of a question as part of the check (so if they’ve already answered 3 x 4 they won’t be asked about 4 x 3).

Once the child has inputted their answer on the iPad they are using, there will be a three-second pause before the next question appears. Children will be given several opportunities to practise answering questions in this format before the official check begins.

The six-second time limit per question has been decided on by the DfE because it should allow children enough time to demonstrate their recall of times tables without giving them the time to work out the answers to each question.

School-level results won’t be made publicly available or be used in league / performance tables.

There will be no “pass mark” (expected standard threshold) and no child will “fail” the test. Multiplication facts will be the only things tested (there will be no testing of children’s knowledge of division facts or problem-solving in the check). The DfE says the purpose of the check is to help teachers identify which children are falling behind and target areas where they’re not being given a chance to succeed.

Because the National Curriculum for maths is so extensive, there is an expectation that parents will help their children learn their times tables at home and not rely on schools to bring them up to speed.

Some of the techniques you can use include:

  • Practising times tables by rote.
  • Asking your child multiplication questions out of order – such as ‘What’s 11×12? What’s 5×6?’
  • Asking your child the related division facts: ‘What’s 8/4? What’s 9/3?’
  • Using arrays to help your child memorise times tables – you can use fun objects like Smarties or Lego bricks to make it more entertaining.
  • Giving your child word problems to test their skills, like ‘If Peter has 800ml of orange juice and needs to share it between four friends, how much can they each have?’

Specific tips for each multiplication table:

Parent’s Guide to the MTC

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