Numerical Reasoning Strategies – Year 2 – Year 6

For the past two years, the Numerical Reasoning National Test has proven to be the most challenging out of the three test papers for pupils across Wales. The reason for this is that children have to apply numeracy in a range of real life examples, which in an aspect some pupils continue to struggle with. Therefore in Bedwas Junior School and Rhydri Primary School, our mathematics coordinator, Miss Bodenham has introduced a new approach in answering Numerical Reasoning questions. The TRIAL model is used in maths lessons and across the curriculum.

The TRIAL model is a thinking skills framework that helps children break down any type of problem into smaller chunks and it focuses the children’s attention to some key elements of numerical reasoning.

In the TRIAL method shown below, we encourage children to identify important milestones in their problem, solving journeys in a five-stage process:

Task -> What is the task? / What does the question ask me to find out, or do?

Recall -> What do I know? What information does the question give me?

Ideas -> What ideas could I try? What steps do I need to take to solve the problem?

Apply -> Let’s try it? / Use your best idea to solve the problem.

Learnt -> What lessons have I learnt? / What skills did I use?


All of the stages of TRIAL are important, but the two that are often overlooked by pupils are the Ideas and Learnt stages. Ideas because children either try to do all calculations in their heads and eventually get lost or because they rush into writing calculations down and often lose track of the task. At the Ideas stage, children are encouraged to consider a range of options that might be useful in solving the problem. Identifying the skills used in tackling a problems and being able to articulate what they have learnt is a very effective tool as it will support them when answering similar questions in the future.

Before the Christmas break, children in Year 2 – Year 6 were introduced to the TRIAL method. Now that the pupils are becoming more familiar in using the TRIAL method all teachers are going to ensure that at least two opportunities to answer numerical reasoning questions are included into lessons each week – One in Mathematics and one in another subject.

In preparation for the Numerical Reasoning tests in May, children will be bringing home weekly past paper questions in the next couple of weeks. If your child ever struggles with any questions, please assist them by working through the TRIAL method (a blank copy is provided below), which should hopefully support them in achieving the right answer. If you would like any further information, please speak to either Miss Bodenham or your child’s class teacher.