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functional skills

Functional Skills, first introduced in 2007 and replacing their predecessor ‘Key Skills’, are a suite of recognised qualifications assessing and validating an individual’s proficiency in English, Mathematics, and information and Communication Technology (ICT). These qualifications are designed to provide individuals with the necessary skills to function effectively in their personal and professional lives and involve:


Developing strong reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities. This includes comprehending and interpreting written information, effectively expressing ideas in writing, actively participating in discussions, and understanding spoken language.


Applying mathematical concepts and methods to solve problems in everyday life. This includes using numerical skills to interpret data, calculate measurements, manage finances, and make informed decisions. It also involves understanding mathematical concepts such as fractions, percentages, ratios, and basic algebra.

Information and communication technology (ICT)

Using digital tools and technologies confidently and effectively. This includes skills such as navigating the internet, using email and social media, creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and critically evaluating digital information.

Functional Skills qualifications are available at different levels, typically ranging from Entry Level to Level 2, with Level 2 being the highest and can be used as an alternative to traditional qualifications, such as GCSEs, in some educational pathways. The levels are designed to match the complexity and depth of knowledge required for each skill area. The qualifications are regulated and accredited by numerous Awarding Organisations and are widely recognised by employers, educational institutions and are an integral component of apprenticeship qualifications where the apprentice does not hold a ‘pass’ at GCSE Mathematics or English Language.

In recent years the number of people taking Functional Skills has declined markedly. Ofqual published a blog in response, issued July 2022, outlining potential reasons for the decline and remedies.

Unlike their GCSE ‘equivalents’, Functional Skills assessments are not restricted to specific examination series. They are typically available ‘on-demand’, all-year-round and hosted in centre. However, candidates can elect to take assessments remotely at home, subject to meeting specific criteria laid down by Awarding Organisations. Functional Skills assessment focuses on practical applications rather than theoretical knowledge and are highly valued in education, employment, and daily life, as they provide individuals with the necessary foundation to succeed in a wide range of contexts. These skills promote independent thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication, enabling individuals to adapt and thrive in an increasingly digital and interconnected world.

Here at Arc Exams, we deliver Pearson Edexcel Functional Skills (Level 1 and 2 only) which have several assessment options available; Written examinations (paper-based), On-screen or remote invigilation. Pearson Edexcel have consistently been the market leader for Functional Skills over the last three years, accounting for 40+% of all Level 1/2 certifications since January 2020.

All Functional Skills assessments offered by arc exams can be found in our Fees List. This link accesses Pearson Edexcel’s Functional Skills website area detailing a wealth of useful information.