Scientific Literacy

After PISA 2006, science was the focus domain for the second time in PISA 2015.

In the PISA study scientific literacy is defined as the ability to understand the characteristics of science and the significance of science in our modern world, to apply scientific knowledge, identify issues, describe scientific phenomena, draw conclusions based on evidence, and the willingness to reflect on and engage with scientific ideas and subjects. One aspect is that students understand the significance of science and technology in their daily lives. They should be able to apply a scientific approach to assessing scientific data and information in order to make evidence-based decisions.

PISA’s scientific exercises cover important concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and geosciences. In doing so, the PISA study examines the extent to which young people are scientifically literate when they complete their compulsory schooling.

Areas of scientific knowledge:

  • physical systems
  • living systems
  • earth and space systems

Areas of (meta) knowledge about science:

  • scientific research
  • scientific explanation

The conceptual framework defines five contexts, each of which may have a personal, social or global reference:

  • health
  • natural resources
  • environment
  • hazards
  • frontiers of science and technology


  • explaining phenomena scientifically
  • assessing scientific research and planning research
  • interpreting data and evidence scientifically