Reading Literacy

In the PISA study, reading literacy is understood as follows: Reading literacy is understanding, using, and reflecting on written texts, in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.

PISA examines to what extent adolescents are able to understand and integrate texts they are confronted with in their everyday lives. Aspects such as reading speed take a back seat here. PISA measures the following dimensions:

  • Retrieve texts and access them
  • Interpret and integrate texts
  • Reflect and evaluate texts


The texts used in PISA can be classified by means of four characteristics:

  • Type of medium (paper or electronic)
  • Text format
  • Prose/continuous text (Tales, commentary, apostilles…)
  • Non-continuous texts (Forms, manuals, graphs, maps…)
  • Hybrid forms and multiple texts: in everyday life, several texts have to be read simultaneously which stem from different sources and are set in different formats
  • Text type (e.g. description, narrative, essay, argumentation or instruction)
  • For electronic texts: Context (written by an author or message-based, such as online forums, blogs etc.)