What does the cognitive assessment of PIAAC measure?

PIAAC is designed to assess adults in different countries over a broad range of abilities, from simple reading to complex problem solving skills. To do this, PIAAC has four domains (subjects areas for assessment)—literacy, numeracy, problem solving in technology-rich environments, and reading components—and two modes of assessment—paper-and-pencil and computer-administered. Respondents who are not familiar with computers are given the paper-and-pencil version of the assessment.

PIAAC measures literacy and numeracy in both paper and computer modes. Items that measure problem solving in technology-rich environments are only computer-administered. Reading components tasks are only administered in the paper-and-pencil mode. All participating countries are required to assess the literacy and numeracy domains, but the problem solving and reading components domains are both optional. The United States assessed all four domains.

PIAAC tasks developed for all four domains are authentic, culturally appropriate, and drawn from real-life situations that are expected to be of importance or relevance in different contexts. Tasks' contents and questions are intended to reflect the purposes of adults' daily lives across cultures, even if they are not necessarily familiar to all adults in all countries.

For information on the PIAAC frameworks used to develop tasks in each of the four domains, click here.