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Sample Questions Help


The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has conducted three national adult literacy assessments: the 1985 Young Adult Literacy Assessment (YALA), the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), and the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy. Many questions appeared in multiple assessments. The search categories in the Test Questions Tool Search page include:

  • 1985 & 1992 Trend—questions appearing in the 1985 and 1992 assessments (79 items)
  • 1992 & 2003 Trend—questions appearing in both the 1992 and the 2003 assessments (39 items)
  • 1992 All—questions appearing in the 1992 assessment (118 items)
  • 2003 All—questions appearing in the 2003 assessment (50 items)

Literacy Scale

NAAL measures the three following literacy areas to capture knowledge and skills necessary to perform a task:

  • Prose—questions requiring the ability to process continuous text (i.e. news stories, brochures);
  • Document—questions requiring the ability to process non-continuous text (i.e. tables, maps, applications);
  • Quantitative—requiring the ability to identify and perform computations.


Task Demand

NAAL task demands refer to the unobservable—cognitive and linguistic processes—required by the NAAL tasks. The following include the categories that can be selected in the Test Questions Search page:

  • text search processes—used to search text efficiently;
  • computation processes—used to identify and perform the calculations required for solving a quantitative problem;
  • inferential processes—used to draw appropriate text-based inferences;
  • application processes—used to apply newly searched, inferred, or computed information to complete a task.

Printed Material

The printed materials are the written text which respondents use to complete an assessment question or task. They include both prose materials and documents. The following include the categories that can be selected in the Test Questions Search page:

  • List—a type of document material;
  • Table—a type of document material;
  • Map—a type of document material;
  • Bill—a type of document material;
  • Form—a type of document material;
  • Bill/Form—a type of document material;
  • Graph—a type of document material;
  • Other documents—document materials not listed above;
  • Narration—a type of prose material;
  • Poem—a type of prose material;
  • Exposition—a type of prose material;
  • Procedures—a type of prose material;
  • Persuasion—a type of prose material.


Percent of Adults Who Answered Question Correctly

You can search the tool by the percent of adults who answered the question correctly in the 1992 or 2003 assessments. The categories are divided into quartiles. Note: 1985 percents are not available.

Text String Search

You can search all the fields in the question tool by entering a term in the search box. The search program provides results containing your search term. For example by entering "health" as your search term, the search program will locate all items that contain health in any part of the item.
You can also use an item number to access a specific item quickly. Item #ís were assigned to each of the questions found in the assessment and are used to uniquely identify each of the items in the reports, data codebook, data files, etc.


Sorting the Results

Clicking on any of the links on the grey bar, enables you to sort the items on each of the columns.

Sort Results By

You can sort the results by Item #, Item Description, Percent Correct, Year, Literacy Scale, Task Demand, and Material. The results will be returned in ascending order.
Note: The sort function can also be implemented from the result page. By clicking on any of the links on the grey bar of the result page, you can sort the items on each of the columns.


No. of Items Per Page

You can select the number of items that you want returned on the Search Results page.
Note: On the search results page, you can also select the number of questions appearing on each page in the drop down menu.

Selecting Number of Items Per Page

Use the top right button drop down menu above the grey bar to select the number of items appearing on each page.

Test Questions Results

View: To view any or several items on the result page, click on the radio button next to each item # that you want to view and then click on the View button on the top or bottom left.