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PISA test and its importance

Date: 05 December 2019 Tags: Miscellaneous


Students of Chandigarh’s government schools  will  represent India in the Programme for International Student Assessment test in 2021, which will be the first in 6 years.



Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a study done to produce comparable data on education policy and outcomes across countries. It is initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries.



  • The study, which began in the year 2000, conducts a test evaluating 15-year-olds in member and non-member countries to assess the quality and inclusivity of school systems in these countries.

  • The PISA test is held every three years and the next test will be held in 2021, in which students from government schools in Chandigarh will represent India.

  • The test is set by educational experts from across the world. Experts from more than eighty countries have contributed towards framing the test questions, mostly from countries that have already participated in the test.

  • The PISA test does not assess students on their memory, but attempts to evaluate whether students can apply the knowledge they have gained through primary and secondary education.

  • Apart from subjects such as Math, reading comprehension and science, the test also includes an optional section on innovative subjects such as collaborative problem-solving and financial literacy. The test is taken in the language of instruction that the students are familiar with.

  • Regions are identified within the country where the test can be conducted. Within the region, individual schools are chosen which are approved by the PISA governing board and evaluated using stringent criteria. These schools represent the country’s education system.

  • The aim of the test is not to rank the countries which volunteer to participate in the evaluation, but to give a comprehensive analysis of how education systems are working in terms of preparing its students for higher education and subsequent employment.

  • After collecting results from across the world, experts translate these results into data points which are evaluated to score the countries.

  • If a country scores well, it suggests that not only does it has an effective education system but an inclusive one, in which students from privileged and underprivileged backgrounds perform equally well.

  • OECD also hopes that the test will allow countries to learn from each other about effective education policies and improve their own systems, using others as examples.

India’s participation

India has participated in the PISA test only once before, in 2009. In this round of PISA, where students from Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu sat for the test, India ranked 72nd out of 73 countries, outranking only Kyrgistan.


Way forward

Indian education is immersed in rote learning and memorisation. PISA requires experiential learning and out of the box thinking. Educators and students need to work hard to adapt to innovative learning.

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