International Assessment (PISA)

 International Assessment (PISA)


​(Program for International Student Assessment)

PISA is a group of studies supervised by the OECD to measure the ability of tenth grade students to use their knowledge in reading, science and mathematics and to acquire skills to solve life and professional problems they face. 

Main Objectives:

  • Assessing knowledge, skills, and tendencies that reflect current changes in educational curricula
  • Measuring the students’ abilities in employing knowledge to everyday situations at school, home, or the community
  • Comparing student achievement levels and the educational system in Saudi Arabia with the performance and achievements of other participating countries 
  • Measuring the current level of the educational environment, as well as the impact of developmental programs by comparing them with the results of previous cycles of the study
  • Supporting decision makers and educational systems by pinpointing strengths and weaknesses to improve educational environments

Supervising Entity:

On an international scale, the tests are supervised by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In Saudi Arabia however, they are supervised by the National Center for Assessment (NCA), an ETEC affiliate.


Mathematics, science, and reading

Target Segments:

15-year-old students


Arabic and English


Participating countries collaborate to develop the overall framework and content of the tests under the supervision of OECD. Each country is responsible for translating and adapting test content and instruments to its locale, as well as administering the tests to a representative sample of schools. The instruments include:

1. Question booklets:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Reading

One of the three subjects will be emphasized in each cycle by an allocation of 70% (For example, mathematics was the focus in 2021). The remaining two subjects will each receive 15%.

2. Surveys:

The study offers multiple surveys. Saudi Arabia will participate in the following surveys:

  • School surveys (to be completed by school leaders or their representatives)
  • Students

PISA in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia participated in the 2018 cycle, and it will participate in the next cycle. Field tests for the next cycle will be held during the first quarter of 2020.

Target schools participating in the study should prepare their students in mathematics, science, and reading, and they should also train them on the mechanics of the test using classroom activities. Schools can also make use of the questions released by the supervising entity via:​

Translated versions of released questions can be accessed by searching the web for “أسئلة تدريبية أو نماذج الاختبارات الدولية PISA”. NCA has also created administrative and training guides that will be sent to sampled schools to help them prepare and train their students.

Students are not required to pre-register for the test. Target schools and students are nominated by the supervising entity with no interference from participating countries. The Center coordinates between the Ministry of Education and nominated schools to ensure their suitability for the study and their readiness for the agreed upon implementation schedule.

Saudi Arabia takes part in PISA because it helps to assess the achievement of students in general education in essential skills and knowledge. It also examines compares and contrasts Saudi Arabia’s educational system and the educational systems of other participating countries to enhance teaching and learning in the Kingdom. Further, the results of such tests fulfill one of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.

Participating countries are responsible for administering international tests, but the supervising entity is responsible for scoring and analyzing results. At the end of each cycle, several reports are issued concerning achievement levels in reading and writing. Some of these reports are published, while others are sent to individual countries to help them improve their teaching and learning processes in line with international benchmarking. It is worth noting that the principle aim of these tests is to assess the educational systems of participating countries rather than evaluating participating students or schools.​

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