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Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that affects an individual's ability to do math. Early diagnosis can help to avoid poor school performance
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Free Dyscalculia Test to Detect the Risk of Dyscalculia

What Skills are Assessed with a Dyscalculia Test? In today’s post we will look at how to assess the mathematical skills of children with dyscalculia and who can help us to obtain a diagnosis.

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What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder of neurobiological origin that affects the acquisition of numeracy and numeracy skills at a normal intellectual level. It has an estimated prevalence of 5-7%, which is similar to that of dyslexia. Dyscalculia can present very heterogeneously but, in general, children with dyscalculia experience difficulties with the most basic aspects of numerical processing and calculation.

How Does Dyscalculia Manifest Itself?

Some basic numerical skills, such as the ability to discriminate between quantities, counting or digit recognition, are considered to be specific precursors to mathematical learning. Children with dyscalculia have problems in these areas of numerical processing and, as a consequence, lack the basis for developing more advanced mathematical knowledge.

When considering the performance of children with dyscalculia on these basic mathematical tasks, it is important to note that they not only make more errors, but are also slower than their peers in performing these tasks.

Dyscalculia Test: What Skills Need to be Assessed?

Now, let’s look at how to detect dyscalculia. According to the literature on dyscalculia and the development of mathematical skills, in order to make a diagnosis of dyscalculia it is essential to assess three areas of mathematical learning that we will now look at in detail.

Quantity Comparison and Recognition

Pre-symbolic numerical cognition includes at least two cognitive skills:

These pre-symbolic skills begin to develop in children from as early as the first months of life. However, children with dyscalculia have problems in the representation and manipulation of quantities and these problems, in turn, predict difficulties in tasks involving the manipulation of symbolic numbers.

Digits, Counting and the Number Line

In a dyscalculia test, it is important to include number processing exercises that use the verbal symbolic code.

In particular, children’s knowledge of numbers can be assessed with:

  • Number recognition tasks: individuals hear a number and are asked to identify the corresponding digit.
  • Number comparison tasks: children are asked to select between two numbers which one has a higher value.
  • Tasks that require counting objects.

The number line is one of the most important precursors of mathematical learning. In fact, the formation of an internal representation of numbers on a mental number line is a vital step in the development of mathematical skills. To assess this ability, children can be asked to position numbers on an empty number line to see if they can correctly estimate the position.

You can also include in the assessment, exercises in which the child has to state the rule needed to complete a series of ordered numbers.


Children with dyscalculia are characterised by a severe and persistent disability in learning arithmetic (Butterworth et al., 2011). An assessment should include arithmetic exercises that require children to perform simple addition, subtraction and multiplication operations. Multiplication tasks are not included when the assessments at end of the first year of primary school.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has Dyscalculia?

If you have any concerns about a child’s or adolescent’s mathematics performance, it is important to see a professional for a full assessment that should include psychological tests of intelligence, attention and reading, along with specific mathematical tests.

The Smartick Dyscalculia test is a very useful tool for the early detection of dyscalculia in children. Do not hesitate to complete it to find out how to proceed based on the results. It is free of charge and includes a comprehensive report, sent via email, with:

  • A risk assessment, which must be confirmed by a professional.
  • Detailed profile of the child in different mathematical areas.
  • Information on how to interpret the results.
Hiwet Costa
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