1996-3777 (online)
1990-8539 (print)
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A series of reports on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment’s (PISA) periodic testing program on student performance. The reports generally compare student (15 year olds) academic performance across countries, or discuss the methodology used to gather the data.

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Sample Questions from OECD's PISA Assessments You or your institution have access to this content

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02 Feb 2009
9789264050815 (PDF) ;9789264050808(print)

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What does PISA actually assess? This book presents all the publicly available questions from the PISA surveys. Some of these questions were used in the PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006 surveys and others were used in developing and trying out the assessment.


After a brief introduction to the PISA assessment, the book presents three chapters, including PISA questions for the reading, mathematics and science tests, respectively. Each chapter presents an overview of what exactly the questions assess. The second section of each chapter presents questions which were used in the PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006 surveys, that is, the actual PISA tests for which results were published. The third section presents questions used in trying out the assessment. Although these questions were not used in the PISA 2000, 2003 and 2006 surveys, they are nevertheless illustrative of the kind of question PISA uses. The final section shows all the answers, along with brief comments on each question.

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  • Introduction to the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
    PISA aims to measure how far students approaching the end of compulsory education have acquired some of the knowledge and skills essential for full participation in the knowledge society. PISA surveys are carried out every three years in a large number of countries, that together make up close to 90% of the world economy. The first PISA survey was carried out in 2000 in 43 countries, the second in 2003 in 41 countries and the most recent survey was carried out in 2006 in 57 countries. The next assessments will take place in 2009, 2012 and 2015. The primary objective is monitoring the outcomes of education systems in terms of student achievement to provide empirically grounded information which will inform policy decisions. PISA is steered by representatives from participating countries through the PISA Governing Board. The Directorate for Education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) manages PISA and draws on the knowledge of a rich network of international experts.
  • Reading sample tasks
    The assessment of reading in PISA is not aimed at testing whether or not 15-year-old students can read in a technical sense, since comparatively few young adults in modern societies have no skills in reading. The PISA definition of reading literacy goes beyond the notion of decoding information and literal comprehension towards more applied tasks.
  • Mathematics sample tasks
    The mathematics questions in PISA aim at assessing the capacity of students to draw upon their mathematical competencies to meet the challenges of their current and future daily lives. Citizens have to use mathematics in many daily situations, such as when consulting media presenting information on a wide range of subjects in the form of tables, charts and graphs, when reading timetables, when carrying out money transactions and when determining the best buy at the market. To capture this broad conception, PISA uses a concept of mathematical literacy that is concerned with the capacity of students to analyse, reason and communicate effectively as they pose, solve and interpret mathematical problems in a variety of situations including quantitative, spacial, probabilistic or other mathematical concepts.
  • Science sample tasks
    Science questions in PISA aim at evaluating how well students apply scientific ways of thinking to situations they could encounter in their everyday lives. This allows PISA to include scientific knowledge relevant to the science curricula of participating countries without being constrained by the common denominator of national curricula. To capture this idea, PISA uses the concept of scientific literacy.
  • Annexes
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