PISA 2012 Fact Sheet

Long title
Programme for International Student Assessment
Frequency of data collection
Every 3 years
Previous cycles
2000, 2003, 2006, 2009
  • 2009-10: assessment and questionnaire framework development
  • 2010: instrument development
  • March–September 2011: field test (month depends on country)
  • March–December 2012: data collection (month depends on country)
  • December 2013: release of international reports
  • December 2013: release of international database

Starting point – The question of what is important for citizens to know and be able to do and the need for internationally comparable evidence on student performance.



Assess the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired the key knowledge and skills essential for full participation in a modern society.

  • Assessing students near the end of their compulsory education.
  • Assessment domains
    • Focus on the core school subjects of mathematics, reading, and science
    • Inclusion of an innovative domain (in 2012, problem-solving)
    • Possible inclusion of optional assessments (for some countries): computer-based mathematics, digital reading, and financial literacy
  • Not only to ascertain whether students can reproduce knowledge, but also to examine how well students can extrapolate from what they have learned and whether they can apply that knowledge in unfamiliar settings, both in and out of school.


PISA data

  • Offer insights for education policy and practice.
  • Help monitor trends in students’ acquisition of knowledge and skills across countries and in different demographic subgroups within each country.
  • Reveal what is possible in education by showing what students in the highest-performing and most rapidly improving education systems can do.


PISA findings

  • Allow policy makers around the world to gauge the knowledge and skills of students in their own countries in comparison with those in other countries.
  • Allow policy targets to be set against measurable goals achieved by other education systems and educators to learn from policies and practices applied elsewhere.

While PISA cannot identify cause-and-effect relationships between policies (or practices) and student outcomes, it can show educators, policy makers, and the interested public how education systems are similar and different – and what that means for students.

Assessment domain(s)

Major domain

  • Mathematics / Mathematical literacy

Minor domains

  • Reading / Reading literacy / Language
  • Science / Scientific literacy
  • Problem Solving


  • Financial literacy
Study framework (summary)

Mathematics framework

  • Mathematical processes
  • Mathematical content
  • Contexts


Reading framework

  • Situation
  • Text
  • Aspect


Science framework

  • Context
  • Knowledge
  • Competencies
  • Attitudes


Problem-solving framework

  • Problem context
  • Nature of the problem situation
  • Problem-solving processes


Financial literacy framework

  • Content
  • Processes
  • Contexts


Context questionnaire framework

  • School input and school contexts
  • Class contexts
  • Student background
  • General processes
  • Mathematic processes
  • Non-cognitive outcomes (general and mathematics)
Participating entities


65 countries and economies (including 34 OECD memeber countries)



OECD: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States;

Partners: Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macao (China), Malaysia, Montenegro, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Singapore, Shanghai (China), Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Tunisia, UAE, Uruguay, Viet Nam

Target population and sample (summary)

Target population

15-year-old students enrolled in an educational institution at Grade 7 or higher in their respective countries and economies



Approximately 510,000 students

Data collection techniques and instruments (summary)

Student achievement tests 

  • Paper-based
    • Mathematics, reading, and science: all countries/economies
    • Financial literacy (optional): 18 countries/economies
  • Computer-based
    • Mathematics and reading: 32 countries/economies (optional)
    • Problem solving: 44 countries/economies


Background questionnaires

  • Student questionnaire
  • School questionnaire (for school principals)
  • Parent questionnaire (optional)
  • Information and communication technology (ICT) familiarity questionnaire (optional)
  • Educational career questionnaire (optional)
Study director(s)

OECD PISA                                                         
2 rue André Pascal
75775 Paris Cedex 16

E-mail: edu.pisa@oecd.org