The tests are designed to measure how students can use the knowledge and skills they have acquired at school to solve non-school context situations. Moreover, students need to construct the problem content and evaluate the every possibility to deal with problem situations.
PISA survey takes place every three years, and one of each area is chosen as the major and the reaming two areas are minor domains. The survey cycles are:
PISA 2000: the major domain was reading; science and math were minors
PISA 2003: the major domain was mathematics; reading, science and problem solving (Cross-Curricular Competencies) were minors
PISA 2006: the major was science, and reading and math were minors
PISA 2009: the major was reading again; science and math were minors
PISA 2012: Math will be the major domain, and Reading and Science will be minors as well as on-line testing of Problem Solving.
A minimum of 150 schools are sampled in each country (region) and the target student size are around 4500 to 10,000 per country.
- Reading：The definition of reading literacy implies every circumstance that would generate a reading behavior. The contexture circumstances are including personal, educational, occupational and public. The format of text is various out of our daily life, such as; article, poem, prose, leaflet, official document or announcement, fable or story, report and data sheet, etc. The assessment emphasizes on retrieving information, Interpreting, reflecting, and reasoning.
- Mathematics：It mainly includes four contents --- quantity, space and shape, change and relationship, and uncertainty. The essential techniques are cognitive mathematic language, modeling, problem solving and conducting strategy. Also the assessment contexts are engagement with personal, occupational, societal and scientific aspects. The items encompass weather climate, ecology, genetics, taxes, food preparation, mortgages, quality control, voting, acid rain, greenhouse, sport, etc.
- Science：It mainly covers physical, chemical, biology, earth and space science and so on.
Student are required to explain and predict the scientific phenomenal, provide hypothesis, use
the scientific evidence and understand the science investigation. The items are widely including
life and health, earth and environment and technology.