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ICT / Computing

Published on June 8th, 2011 | by What2Learn


Functional Skills ICT: 10 Golden Rules for exam success

The following ‘rules’ were created to help students preparing for Functional Skills ICT examinations at Level 1. We have not covered databases as the last few examinations with Edexcel have had spreadsheet activities but no database.

The list will be appropriate for Level 2 students as well, though they will also need to know some more advanced skills.

Functional Skills: Rule 1 – Read the instructions!

You must take your time and read all of the instructions carefully. There will be quite a lot to read but none of the tasks are hard if you read the steps and do what you are being asked to do.

Don’t presume anything – just read the steps and do what you are told.

If you think you have finished the exam, read back through the instructions and try to see if you have missed anything.

Rule 2: Carefully print everything you need to

You will need to print off work in the exam. The question paper will have sections called ‘Evidence Needed’ which will tell you what to print.

Make sure you print everything you are asked to print – even if you have completed the work you will get no marks if it is not printed.

Your printouts must all have your name, candidate number and centre number on them – you cannot hand-write them on afterwards. To add your details press View >> Header and Footer.

Rule 3: Save your research

It is likely that you will have an internet-based research task to do at the start of the exam.

You will only have access to the internet for a short period of time to do this task. You will be asked to find an image or a piece of information. Whatever you are asked to find, make sure you save it carefully because you will need it later on.

Rule 4: Know your spreadsheet formulae

A spreadsheet formula is any Mathematical calculation you need to make. This will always start with an equals sign. Examples are…


If you need to add together a list of things…

=A2+A3+A4+A5+A6+A7 – would LOSE marks

=SUM(A2:A6) – this WOULD get full marks

Similarly, to work out the average of a list of numbers use…


Rule 5: Apply a range of formatting to your spreadsheet

In the exam you will be asked to make your spreadsheet look clear and professional. Things you should include…

  • Add borders
  • Change font styles and sizes
  • Change font colours
  • Change alignments (e.g. centre)
  • Add shading

… but keep it all looking professional and remember the printers print in shades of grey, not colour.

Rule 6: Create accurate charts

You are probably going to have to draw a chart from your spreadsheet. Read the instructions carefully and make sure you only highlight the data you need to include in your chart. To select certain data you need to hold down the CTRL button. All axes must be labelled.

You MUST make sure that you include a DETAILED TITLE on your chart. For example…

“Monthly Sales” – no good

“Monthly sales of cars at Evans Motors” – good

Rule 7: Know how to print your spreadsheet in data AND formula view

It is essential that you know how to change between data and formula view. To do this press…

Tools >> Options >> tick the formula box

Before printing press ‘File’ then ‘Page Setup’ and select ‘Landscape’ and ‘Fit to one page’. It is also worth doing a print preview and making sure that you can see your name, candidate number and centre number in a footer (Rule 2).

Rule 8: Know which software to use

If you are asked to make a presentation use PowerPoint.

If you are asked to make a printable document (like a flyer or menu) you should use Publisher.

If you are asked to type a letter use Word.

If you are asked to send an email open ‘Outlook’. You may need to press ‘Cancel’ a couple of times to get the software to open. Make sure you write the email in a formal style. You will not need to send it – just press Print Screen to take a copy of it, then paste it into Word, add your details and print it out.

Rule 9: Add the right content to your documents

You will not need to make up anything for the documents you make. Read the instructions for each task carefully and make sure you include exactly what you are told. This will probably include:

  • All of the information or pictures you collected in your research task.
  • Information and pictures from a folder in your ‘My Documents’ folder.

Rule 10: Show a range of formatting techniques in your documents

While you are trying to make your documents look as good as possible, you should try to include a wide range of techniques including:

  • Change font styles and sizes
  • Change font colours
  • Change alignments (e.g. centre)
  • Use WordArt
  • Move elements to good positions

Bonus Rule: Know what you are talking about

In the exam you might need to answer some questions about ICT. You need to know what to say in these and you should revise as you would for any exam. The best way to do this is to sign up for a What2Learn account and enter share code 832263 – this will unlock the Functional Skills ICT revision games.

Click here to see our printable worksheets for Functional Skills ICT lessons.

Do you have any tips to add? Please add a comment below…

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