About PISA

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 80 economies have participated in the assessment.

The most recently published results are from the assessment in 2012. 

Around 510,000 students in 65 economies took part in the PISA 2012 assessment of reading, mathematics and science representing about 28 million 15-year-olds globally. Of those economies, 44 took part in an assessment of creative problem solving and 18 in an assessment of financial literacy.

Consult all PISA  2012 results here.

Seventy-two economies took part in the assessment in 2015 which focussed on science. The 1st set of results from the 2015 round will be published on 6 December 2016.

Download the PISA trifold brochure.


What makes PISA different

What the assessment involves

PISA is unique because it develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. The information collected through background questionnaires also provides context which can help analysts interpret the results.

In addition, given PISA is an ongoing triennial survey, countries and economies participating in successive surveys can compare their students' performance over time and assess the impact of education policy decisions.



Since the year 2000, every three years, fifteen-year-old students from randomly selected schools worldwide take tests in the key subjects: reading, mathematics and science, with a focus on one subject in each year of assessment. In 2012, some economies also participated in the optional assessments of Problem Solving and Financial Literacy

Students take a test that lasts 2 hours. The tests are a mixture of open-ended and multiple-choice questions that are organised in groups based on a passage setting out a real-life situation. A total of about 390 minutes of test items are covered.  Students take different combinations of different tests.

The students and their school principals also answer questionnaires to provide information about the students' backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader school system and learning environment.




Additional PISA initiatives


PISA-based Test for Schools

The PISA-based Test for Schools is a student assessment tool, used by schools to support research, benchmarking and school improvement. It provides descriptive information and analyses on the skills and creative application of knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, and science comparable to main PISA scales. It also provides information on how factors within and outside of school are linked to student performance.

PISA for Development

PISA for Development is a project which aims to enhance the PISA tests and background questionnaires to make them even more relevant for a broader range of contexts, particularly those found in developing countries. The initiative started in 2013 and will be developing and field trialling the modified PISA instruments in five to seven countries over the next three years. 


More on PISA

Countries and econonomies interested in joining PISA can now sign up for the 2018 collection. Find out more in How to join PISA

Any questions left unanswered? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). 

Learn about opportunities to carry out secondary analyses of PISA data in PISA fellowships and grants.


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