PISA’s Questions

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a system of international assessments that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies such as problem solving. PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling. PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. Begun in 2000, PISA is administered every 3 years. Each administration includes assessments of all three subjects, but assesses one of the subjects in depth. The most recent administration was in 2009 and focused on reading literacy.

PISA will next be administered in 2012. PISA 2012 will focus on mathematics literacy. Detailed results of 15-year-olds’ performance in mathematics literacy, as well as results in problem-solving and reading and science literacy, will be available.

Sample  Assessment  Questions

The items below are examples of questions 15-year-olds were asked to answer for PISA on Mathematics Literacy

Internet Relay Chat

Time in Sydney; time in Berlin.  What local times are suitable for the boys to chat?

Mark (from Sydney, Australia) and Hans (from Berlin, Germany) often communicate with each other using “chat” on the Internet. They have to log on to the Internet at the same time to be able to chat.

To find a suitable time to chat, Mark looked up a chart of world times and found the above.

Question 1:

At 7:00 PM in Sydney, what time is it in Berlin?


The correct answer is:

10 AM or 10:00.

Question 2:

Mark and Hans are not able to chat between 9:00 AM and 4:30 PM their local time, as they have to go to school. Also, from 11:00 PM till 7:00 AM their local time they won’t be able to chat because they will be sleeping.

When would be a good time for Mark and Hans to chat? Write the local times in the table.


The correct answer is:

Any time or interval of time satisfying the 9 hours time difference and taken from one of these intervals:
Sydney: 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM; Berlin: 7:30 AM – 9:00 AM


Sydney: 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM; Berlin: 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Sydney 17:00, Berlin 8:00.

NOTE: If an interval is given, the entire interval must satisfy the constraints. Also, if morning (AM) or evening (PM) is not specified, but the times could otherwise be regarded as correct, the response should be given the benefit of the doubt, and coded as correct.