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Literacy and numeracy tests

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Complete the NESA Literacy and Numeracy tests to obtain a report showing your skill level in these key areas. 

More information

Schools Online or contact the Online Testing Support team
via e-mail at 
or phone (02) 9367 8223

Optional tests in literacy and numeracy are available for students who intend to leave high school before completing their HSC.

The test reports give an overview of a student’s level of achievement in literacy and numeracy, focusing on the skills required by school-leavers for employment and further education.

How the tests work

There is one test for literacy and one test for numeracy, with concepts drawn from the Australian Core Skills Framework.

A computer adaptive testing (CAT) model is used to deliver the tests.

CAT allows students to receive questions aimed at their level of ability; this is based on their responses to previous questions. The CAT system identifies the best questions to give the student.

Some advantages of the CAT testing model are:

  • students are not given questions that are too easy or too hard
  • the test results are more accurate
  • the test is likely to be shorter (around 25–30 items for most students compared to 60 items in the previous literacy and numeracy tests)
  • immediate feedback is available
  • tests can be delivered anytime during the school year.

All questions are objective response (eg multiple-choice or drag-and-drop). See example test questions in the demonstration literacy and numeracy test (four questions only).

Sitting the tests

A student can sit for the literacy and numeracy tests at their school under a teacher’s supervision anytime during normal school hours.

NESA recommends that students sit for the tests as close as possible to the date that they are leaving school. If a student sits for the tests in anticipation of leaving school for work or further training and they return to school for further study later, then they may re-sit the tests.

CAT tests require a minimum number of questions to calculate a result. Students who do not answer sufficient questions will be advised to contact their teacher. If their test was interrupted due to illness or misadventure, they will be able to re-sit the test.

As the level of difficulty of the questions presented to each student is based on their responses to previous questions, students cannot go back and change their answers.

Test results

When a student completes each test, they will immediately see how they performed.

A Test Report and Diagnostic Report is automatically sent to a student’s Students Online account and their school’s Schools Online account.

See sample reports and more detail about reporting literacy and numeracy test results.

Test results are reported separately from the RoSA and are not a requirement for its award.

Instructions for schools: test delivery

Make sure students who intend to leave school know they can sit for the literacy and numeracy tests.

Schools also need to appoint a test coordinator responsible for managing the preparation and conduct of the test in the school and advising NESA of their details via Schools Online. Instructions for coordinators are available in Schools Online, so ensure they have access.

As the tests are not designed for students going on to their HSC, it is not appropriate for whole cohorts to be enrolled in the literacy and numeracy tests.

Coordinating the test

  • Schedule a time and date for a student to sit the test close to the student’s leaving date. Students who wish to do both tests must complete them in one sitting. Students can determine which test they do first and may choose to do only one of the tests.
  • Organise a suitable location with the necessary equipment and a teacher supervisor.
  • Do the demo test on a computer that will be used by a student to do the tests. This will ensure the tests will work on the school’s infrastructure, and will help familiarise you and the student with how the tests work.
  • Principals can authorise disability provisions for a student at the school level provided supporting documentation is kept. In the case of a provision such as a braille paper or extended extra time, schools should contact Student Support Services on 9367 8117 at least four weeks before the anticipated test date.
  • Enter the student for the test(s) the online Testing function via Schools Online site map and note any provisions needed (see ‘Memos and Documents’ in Schools Online for more detail). Students must undertake the tests within three weeks of entry.
  • Entry will create a personal identification number (PIN) for the student. The student needs this PIN and their NESA number to login to the tests. The test coordinator generates a PIN letter for the student using the Online testing functions on the Schools Online site map.
  • On the day of the test, give the student the PIN letter just before the test. The student needs this PIN and their NESA number.
  • The student starts the NESA literacy and numeracy test.
  • Shortly after the test, see the student’s results in Schools Online.
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