Why do schools use PAT tests?

  • They provide a measure of student achievement in each learning area
  • There is a common achievement scale for all tests within a learning area (PAT scale scores allow teachers to compare achievement on the tests within each learning area regardless of year level and the specific test completed and to monitor progress over time)
  • The tests and questions are designed to assess the strands and levels described in the Australian Curriculum
  • They provide overall descriptions of the types of skills mastered and those still to be developed based on test performance
  • The reports show scale scores for each strand, so students' strengths and weaknesses in different strands can be clearly identified
  • Individual and group reports have automatically calculated scores and sorting functions that allow comparison of scores across students, strands, etc.
  • They can be used to inform teaching and learning and to assist in planning effective and targeted learning programs.

What formats are the PAT tests available in?

All PAT tests are available online and in print, with the exception of PAT-R Spelling, which is only available in print and PAT Early Years which is only available online.

Should I use PAT online or print?

It is possible to use a combination of PAT online and print, as the results between the two modes of delivery are comparable. The advantage of PAT online is that scoring and reporting is automatic, and there is instant access to a range of interactive reports that link back to the test questions. PAT online can be conducted on computers or tablets. Read more about Online Assessment and Reporting.

For large-scale testing at the one time, most schools choose print format as all test conditions can be controlled rigorously and the risk of problems with access to the test on computer is eliminated. Schools that do not have good access to the internet or sufficient access to computers for students to use also prefer to use print tests.

How often should I test with PAT?

To monitor student progress, a gap of nine to 12 months between testing sessions is recommended. If intensive teaching and learning activities are taking place, a six-month gap between PAT testing may be appropriate. The particular context of the classroom should be taken into account to make this decision.

Can I see the PAT tests before I buy?

Schools can obtain printed PAT specimen sets on 30-days approval on a school order form through Customer Service or through the online shop. A specimen set contains the manual, an example of each of the test booklets and answer sheets and the scoring and reporting software (available on USB or CD). Downloadable ACER Press purchases are not returnable or refundable.

How can PAT test results be used?

It is critical to schedule time for staff to analyse their results to get the most from the testing.

Results can be used at both group and individual level:

  • PAT scale scores can be used to measure improvement over time
  • Percentile ranks and stanines will provide a picture of how students’ results compare with results of students in the norm reference sample in the same year level across Australia
  • Analysis of students’ performance across curriculum content strands will provide information to inform teaching practice.

What do I do with my PAT test results?

PAT results can be used to inform teaching and learning and to monitor progress. Follow these steps:

  1. Make time to discuss results with your colleagues and the leadership team.
  2. Sort student results by scale score and check how students are grouped against the relevant PAT scale.
  3. Sort student results by category and item difficulty to identify skills requiring further development.
  4. Look at the next teaching points for students based on their PAT band skill description. The PAT Teaching Resources Centre provides activities and resources to help you.
  5. Re-test each year to track progress and identify the skills students have now mastered.

Where can I go for assistance in using PAT tests effectively?

ACER Education Consultants can provide advice by email and telephone. They can also provide professional development at staff meetings, network meetings etc. Please contact Customer Service for details.