PISA: For Parents

Around 2,000 young people in 40 schools across Scotland, as well as students in over 80 countries worldwide, will be asked to take part in the Field Trial, an important international education study (PISA).

PISA is used by governments internationally to plan how to improve education systems in their countries.

What does PISA involve?

On the day of the study, an experienced Study Administrator will visit your child’s school/college [1] and lead a PISA session during normal school hours. During this session, students will answer questions on maths, reading and science on a computer. There is no need for any special preparation, studying or revision.

They will also answer a questionnaire about their background, attitudes and experiences in school. The main focus of these questions will be on their views about science and their science lessons. This questionnaire will also ask for some information on homes and families. Therefore, it would be useful for students to know their parents’ or guardians’ occupations and highest educational qualifications.

Your child does not need to answer any question that they do not feel comfortable with and the Study Administrators will be available to answer any queries they have.

For examples of PISA questions, please visit our Sample Questions page.

In total, the session will last about three hours with a break in the middle.

How will NFER look after my child’s data?

NFER takes data protection very seriously and complies with the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018. Any personal information we collect will be held securely. The information NFER collects is used to compare how well students around the world learn.

No-one will see your child’s answers except the researchers involved in the study. No names or anything which can be used to identify an individual or school is shared with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), or included in any reports.

Please view the PISA 2025 Privacy Notice for further details about the information we will collect and how we will use it.

Why is it important that my child takes part?

PISA provides the opportunity for students to represent Scotland in an important, global study and to make a valuable contribution to the understanding of Scotland’s education system. Students are selected randomly. This means all 15-year-olds in a selected school have an equal chance of being picked. This random selection means the students chosen will give a fair representation of all Scottish students and this is important for an international study such as PISA.

If an invited students does not take part, he or she cannot be replaced by another pupil. Therefore, we strongly encourage all invited students to attend the PISA assessment session and give the assessment their best effort.

It is the participation of your child that makes PISA a success, and we are very grateful to everyone who takes part. Your child’s contribution is highly valued and of great importance to the Scottish Government and the OECD.

Will PISA affect my child’s school work?

Taking part in PISA will help develop your child’s skills. It will support the work that they are doing towards their exams and give them extra practice answering computer-based questions. Taking part in PISA has no effect on your child’s school results. NFER will not share any individual answers to questions or named results with the school.

Who is carrying out the study?

PISA 2025 is being delivered in Scotland by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Please visit our PISA Research page for a series of briefing papers based on the results of international surveys, including PISA.

For more information on the PISA study, please watch this summary video.

[1] PISA mainly takes place in schools, but a small number of students in some FE Colleges may also be invited to take part.