The Core Skills Profile for Adults is a set of secure online assessments matched to the latest Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF). It provides an efficient, valid and reliable method for assessing the stages of development of adult learners, from young school leavers to adults who are studying, working or returning to training and study.

The CSPA was developed by ACER staff with high level expertise in the design of online post-school assessments in language, literacy and numeracy. All items were trialled with adult learners and proven to be psychometrically valid and reliable.

Aligned to the 5 performance levels of the ACSF in reading, numeracy and writing, the assessment offers 5 components:

In order to accurately assess individual capabilities, the CSPA uses an integrated adaptive screening test of 10 items for each component (excluding writing and ESL).  The screener test targets items at ACSF Levels 2-4 and works to gauge a test taker's current ability (Core Skill level). Based on their responses, individual test takers are automatically directed to the most appropriate level to complete the remaining 15 test questions (either at the low, intermediate or advanced level).

Entry and exit

The CSPA can be used as both an effective placement and exit assessment to:

  • ensure that individuals are supported from their initial placement and show improvements in their Core Skills over time
  • readily and easily track the progress of individuals at any stage with pre and post assessment
  • provide evidence of teacher intervention effectiveness with post assessments.


All questions in the CSPA have been written to general Australian contexts and to the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

The assessment is designed to promote test taker engagement, and produces a clear indication of individuals' Core Skill development.  The CSPA offers a genuine 'learner-centred' perspective to assessment and provides support for individuals and their varying needs. 

The CSPA is flexible in its design and can be tailored to incorporate discipline or industry specific content based on organisational needs. Organisations interested in such developments are welcome to contact us to discuss their requirements.

CSPA technical requirements

There are minimum technical specifications that must be met for the CSPA platform to function properly.

Supported operating systems:

Windows XP, 7,or 8

Mac OSX (all versions)

Supported internet browsers:

Mozilla Firefox

Google Chrome

Internet Explorer version 8 10 or higher (with compatibility mode switched off)

Apple Safari

Required components and settings:

A minimum screen resolution of 1024x768 pixels