If you are seeking admission to a trade school, tech school, a college offering occupational certificates or associate degrees, or another adult education facility, you may be asked to take the Test for Adult Basic Education (TABE).
The TABE assesses the skills and knowledge of adult learners and is used to determine if applicants are qualified for admission and/or to place students into appropriately leveled classes.
It’s a good idea to spend some time on TABE test prep beforehand, especially if you’ve been out of school for a while. To help you prepare, we’re providing a free TABE Practice Test PDF, along with all of the tips and information you’ll need to perform your best.Access the TABE assessment by clicking the button below, and you will also receive a bonus PDF: "5 proven test prep strategies for using practice tests in your study plan".
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The TABE is a timed, computerized test, but arrangements can be made to take a paper-pencil version if necessary.
The test assesses basic skills and knowledge in Reading, Language, Math Computation, and Applied Math. There are also optional tests on Spelling, Vocabulary, and Language Mechanics.
Academic material from 1st-12th grade is covered in order to assess the current education level of adult learners for admission and placement purposes. All questions are multiple choice.
There are five levels of the TABE test. These levels are as follows:
In order to determine which test level will be administered to you, you must first take a 30-minute pre-test called the Locator.
The questions on the Locator do not change from year to year, so you will only be administered the Locator before your first TABE test. If the TABE is later used as a final exam for your program, your test level will be determined using your previous test score and your performance in the program.
To ensure the most accurate results on the Locator, do not guess. Instead, leave unknown questions blank. This is because if you happen to guess correctly on too many questions, you may end up taking a TABE test that is too advanced for your current academic level.
Once the Locator has determined the correct TABE test level for you, you’ll be ready to take the TABE. There are two versions of the TABE: the Complete Battery and the Survey.
The Complete Battery and the Survey contain the same subtests, but the Complete Battery is a longer and therefore more accurate assessment. The Complete Battery asks a total of 195 questions and takes 2 hours and 59 minutes to complete, while the Survey gives you 1 hour and 30 minutes to answer 100 questions.
In the next sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of the TABE subtests, including timing, content, and sample questions.
TABE Reading Test
The TABE Reading test assesses basic reading comprehension skills. You will be asked to read brief informational and literary passages, as well as interpret graphic information, and answer related multiple choice questions.
Questions address five main topics:
The most challenging questions are Constructing Meaning and Evaluating and Extending Meaning, because these questions require you to think beyond the information that is directly stated in the text.
Below are two examples of questions requiring you to Construct Meaning. These questions are based on an informational passage about Alaskan history. As you can see, these questions measure the ability to identify main idea and draw conclusions.
Evaluating and Extending Meaning questions go a step farther, requiring you to make judgements about information in the passage and apply it to other situations. In the examples below, questions are based on a fictional passage about a merchant and servant in Baghdad.
You may also encounter some questions about reference materials and sources, as in the following examples:
The Complete Battery for Reading allows you 50 minutes to answer 50 questions, while the Survey asks 25 questions and provides you with 25 minutes.
If you would like to view reading passages and additional sample questions from the TABE Reading test, be sure to check out the free TABE Practice Test PDF.
TABE Language Test
The TABE Language Test measures your understanding of appropriate grammar, punctuation, word usage, and organization.
For example, you may be asked to choose a sentence that does not belong in a provided paragraph.
To answer this question correctly, you must recognize that the topic of this paragraph is managing a home. Sentence 2, which focuses on the traditional roles of mother and father, is off topic and does not belong.
Other questions may test you on grammatically appropriate word usage.
Your grammar and punctuation skills will also be tested by asking you to select the correct sentence from four answer choices or select the punctuation that is needed in a provided sentence.
If you take the Complete Battery, you will be expected to answer 55 Language questions in 55 minutes. The Survey, on the other hand, requires you to complete just 25 Language questions within 25 minutes.
Remember that you can view and practice additional Language questions in the free TABE Practice Test PDF.
TABE Math Test
There are two sections on the TABE Math test: Math Computation and Applied Mathematics. You are not permitted to use a calculator on Math Computation; you may use a four function calculator for Applied Mathematics only.
For the most part, the mathematics tests deal with basic math, including fractions, percentages, and decimals. You may encounter a few pre-algebra questions, but you don’t have to worry about especially complex mathematics questions.
The Math Computation test will assess the following skills:
Below are a few sample Math Computation questions:
As you can see, the final choice for each question is “None of these,” which you may select if you don’t feel the correct answer is among the other choices.
For Applied Mathematics, you will mostly answer word problems and questions related to provided tables or charts. Here are a few examples:
The Complete Battery asks 40 Math Computation questions in 24 minutes and 50 Applied Mathematics questions in 50 minutes.
On the other hand, the Survey requires you to answer 25 Math Computation questions in 15 minutes and 25 Applied Mathematics questions in 25 minutes.
If you feel that you need practice prior to taking the TABE Math test, practice questions are available in the free TABE Practice Test PDF.
TABE Optional Tests
The optional TABE tests are Vocabulary, Language Mechanics, and Spelling. These optional subtests are identical between the Complete Battery and the Survey.
The Vocabulary and Language Mechanics tests consist of 20 questions that must be answered in 14 minutes, while the Spelling test asks 20 questions with a 10 minute time limit.
TABE Test Score Interpretation
On the TABE, your raw score (or number of questions answered correctly) is converted into a scaled score.
The scaled score is the most important number you’ll receive from the TABE. It compares individual test performances to the norm and ranges from 0-990. The scaled score is comparable across all levels and subtests.
On the TABE, there is no specific passing score. Each individual school or program has their own guidelines and standards, so what makes a “good score” will depend on where you are applying. In many cases, any score is accepted, but lower scores may mean you need remedial coursework in some subjects.
However, many programs require a minimum scaled score of 540 for admittance. To be sure, it is always best to contact your desired school or program and ask what TABE scores are required.
Another TABE metric is the grade equivalent score, which is determined using the scaled score and ranges from 0-12.9. This score provides a measure of achievement relative to a typical K-12 education and can be used to organize classes and instructional groups.
Percentile scores range from 1-99 and rank all test-takers. For example, a score in the 82nd percentile is equal to or higher than the score of 82% of test-takers.
The stanine is a score from 1-9 that is based on the percentile rank. The Normal Curve Equivalent is very similar to the percentile rank but can be used to compare performance across content areas, since it is on an equal interval scale.
TABE Test Prep
Now that you know about TABE test score interpretation, what can you do to ensure that you achieve a high score?
The key to TABE test prep is working on practice questions and full length practice tests. Of course, our free TABE practice test PDF is an excellent starting point.
At first, practice without timing yourself, so you can take time to understand the questions. Once you begin performing well on practice questions, you can start timing yourself to gain an understanding of how you will need to pace yourself on the day of the TABE.
By completing practice questions, you’ll become familiar with test content, making you more skilled and confident on test day.
When you miss practice questions, take the time to understand why your answer was wrong and the correct answer was right. Develop strategies that will help you approach the question type more effectively in the future.
If you find that specific questions or subtests are more difficult for you, begin focusing your practice sessions on these challenging questions.
By beginning to prepare a few months in advance and using the free TABE practice Test PDF, you’ll set yourself up for an excellent performance on the TABE!