What does PISA involve?
If you have been selected to take part in PISA, you are amongst up to 40 pupils in each of the 500 schools in the UK, and over half a million pupils in around 80 countries that have been selected to take part. PISA is important as it is used by governments around the world to plan how to improve education.
On the day of the study a Test Administrator (like an invigilator) will visit your school and run a session. When you arrive at the room where the study will take place, you will be asked to turn off your mobile phone, have a pencil or pen ready, and sit at a computer. The Test Administrator will then read some instructions and answer any questions you may have.
During the session, you will be asked to answer a selection of questions. The main focus will be on reading a range of texts, from newspaper articles to websites. You may also answer some questions on science or maths. It is unlikely that the person sitting next to you during the study will have answered the same questions as you, as different pupils receive different combinations of questions.
You will also be given a questionnaire about yourself and your attitudes and experiences in school. The main focus of these questions will be on reading and your English lessons, or Welsh lessons if you go to a Welsh-medium or bilingual school. This questionnaire will also ask for some information on homes and families. It would be useful for you to know your parents’ or guardians’ occupations and their highest educational qualifications. At the beginning of the session you will be told you only need to complete the parts of the questionnaire you feel comfortable answering. You can ask the Test Administrator about any questions that you are not sure about. No-one will see your answers except the researchers involved in the study. No names or information which can be used to identify you or your school is shared with the OECD, or included in any reports.
How will NFER look after my data?
NFER takes data protection very seriously and complies with the Data Protection Act 2018. Any personal information will be held securely and no individual or school will be identified or identifiable in any report or publication. You can read the PISA 2018 privacy notice here for further details about the information we will collect, how we will use it, and your rights to ask us to stop using your personal information.
Examples of PISA questions can be found here.
The study will take place at school, using computers and will be during normal school hours. In total, it will take about 3 hours with a break in the middle. In recognition of your participation, you will receive a PISA 2018 certificate.
The results of the study are published in December 2019. We will then send your school a summary of the findings and a report about your school. Your name will not be included in this report and the report will be used by your school to see how it compares with other schools in the UK.
Do I need to prepare?
There is no need for any special preparation, revision or studying. PISA provides a chance for you to practise assessment skills in a study for which no preparation is required.
On the day, NFER recommends that you bring:
- a pen or pencil, in case you want to make notes
- a calculator
- a book or magazine, in case you finish early.
How will PISA affect my school work?
Taking part in PISA will help develop your skills. It will support the work that you are doing towards your exams and give you extra practice answering computer-based questions. Taking part in PISA has no effect on your grades. NFER will not share your individual answers to questions or results showing your name, with your school.
Who is carrying out the study?
PISA 2018 is being delivered in the UK by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the Department for Education in England, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland.
It is your participation that makes PISA a success, and we are very grateful to all the pupils who take part – thank you! Your contribution is highly valued and of great importance to the UK governments and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
What have we learned from PISA?
The results from PISA 2015 were released on 6 December 2016. The main focus was on science. The national reports for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can be found here.
NFER has produced a series of briefing papers based on the results of international surveys, including PISA which can be found here.
Visit our FAQs for more information on the PISA study.