Skills tests 2015 - 2014 - 2013

Skills test

Each year the skills test runs in the first two weeks of May. Your teacher will let you know the date it's running in your school. A cutting list of material and a list of the tools required is sent to the school at the beginning of the (calendar) year. Here's a sample cutting list from 2017:

 2017 cutting list

2017 cutting list

The list of tools can give you a clue as to what might be examined... especially if certain tools are included or excluded (e.g. 10mm mortice chisel). Although sometimes a tool is listed but not actually required!

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2017 cutting/ tools list download


(these look great printed as A1 posters)


Key skills

The following list outlines many of the key skills that are assessed:


  • mark & make mortice and tenon joint :
    • using 6mm/ 9mm chisel
    • ‘on the flat’ – see 2000 exam. 
    • bare faced tenon – see 2002 exam. 
  • mark & make dovetail joint: 
    • dovetail on side grain (edge)
    • dovetail on end grain
  • mark & make bridle joint - see 2008 exam. 
  • mark & make halving joint - see 2008 exam. 
  • mark & make housing joint - see 2004 exam. 


  • mark curve with compass
  • cut curve with coping saw
  • smooth curve with spokeshave


  • set bevel to slope 1:6
  • set bevel to a ‘set square angle’ (i.e. 30° 45° 60°)


  • mark& bore holes with brace & 9mm bit for dowel

screw joints:

  • mark & bore pilot hole for screw
  • countersink hole
  • drive screw

decorative features:

  • chamfer – practice a chamfer – keep it small 
  • remove corners - practice – keep it small
  • sloped surfaces - see every exam!
  • curves – spokeshave- can be difficult; practise


  • no glue
  • no sandpaper
  • no cleaning off, except a light rub with an eraser
  • leave all marking out lines & exam number clearly visible on every piece!



The skills test comprises a four hour exam that tests the student's ability to read a given drawing and to precisely manufacture an artefact using a given set of components. To do this the student must correctly identify each piece and mark and process all of the joints and decorative features.


Exam date

The exam is held in the first two weeks of May. The precise date is decided by the school. This is to facilitate the organisation of practical exams in other subjects (e.g. Art, Engineering) - some students may be doing more than one practical exam. It also allows the school to minimise the impact of holding the exam on other classes that are using the wood technology classroom. Once the school selects the dates for the practical exams, a form is completed and submitted to the State Examinations Commission so they are aware of when the exam is taking place.



The skills test is completed using hand tools; the use of machinery is not permitted. A list of tools is issued each year, highlighting any particular tools that may be needed to complete the task. However, sometimes a tool is listed even though it is not required - this makes it difficult to predict the skills or processes that will be tested.



Most students find the greatest challenge is completing the task in the four hour time frame. In a typical exam, two hours are spent marking out the pieces and two hours are spent processing and assembling. It is essential that a student has developed the ability to work accurately and quickly.


Spare material

If a student damages a piece, they may not have it replaced - this raises the stakes considerably. Staff from the State Examinations Commission randomly visit schools to ensure that correct procedures are being followed. One of the first things they check is that spare material is not available to the students during the exam.