Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI™)

Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI™)

Narrative Summary: 

The Basic Achievement Skills Inventory (BASI) is a series of multilevel, group, or individually administered, norm-referenced achievement tests that measure reading, written language, and math skills among adults and students. Two versions of the BASI test were created: Comprehensive and Survey. Only the Survey has been normed on adults. The BASI Survey is described in this database.

Intended Population: 

The BASI Survey is intended for adults ages 18–80 and students in grades 3–12.


The BASI Survey was designed to (1) quickly assess a child’s or adult’s strengths and weaknesses in verbal and math skills, (2) test groups of diverse ages and abilities with a single instrument, (3) serve as a locator test for the BASI Comprehensive test, (4) monitor academic progress, (5) aid in career counseling, (6) assist with placement and academic advisement of college students, (7) help make literacy, ESL, GED, and other placement decisions for adult learners, and (8) help evaluate offenders for program placement.

Skills Measured-Test Content: 

Verbal skills:

  • Vocabulary: Measures the examinee’s skills in identifying the meaning of words within the context of a sentence, recognizing synonyms and antonyms, analyzing verbal analogies, and recognizing the meaning of words presented in isolation.
  • Language Mechanics: Measures the examinee’s knowledge of various grammar and syntax rules, including capitalization, punctuation, verb forms, and tense agreement.
  • Reading Comprehension: Measures the examinee’s ability to read and understand a textual passage. After reading a passage, the examinee must answer questions about the main idea, sequence of events, and setting. These literal comprehension questions are complemented by questions that assess inferential comprehension skills, such as identifying cause and effect relationships, predicting outcomes, and drawing conclusions.

Math skills:

  • Math Computation: Measures the examinee’s ability to apply the four basic arithmetic operations to whole numbers, fractions, and decimals and to simplify numerical expressions and algebraic equations.
  • Math Application: Measures the examinee’s ability to (1) solve mathematical word problems using the four basic arithmetic operations, (2) read and interpret data presented in graphs or tables, (3) solve problems involving the measurement of shapes and volumes, and (4) demonstrate knowledge of measurement principles related to length, weight, volume, perimeter, and money.
Range of Skill Levels: 

The BASI Survey measures academic skills from 3rd through 12th grade.

Number of Items per Test: 

Verbal Skills Total (73 items):

  • Vocabulary (21 items)
  • Language Mechanics (21 items)
  • Reading Comprehension (31 items)

Math Skills Total (68 items):

  • Math Computation (33 items)
  • Math Application (35 items)
Types of Items: 

Multiple choice

Development of Items: 

Development of the BASI test began in the spring of 2001 with the initial creation of a test blueprint. Based on this blueprint, multiple candidate items were written by experienced item writers for each final item that was to appear on one of the subtests. For example, for every one item that was to be used on the final form of a Math Computation subtest or skill area, two or three items were written and pilot tested. A total of 2,665 items were written and pilot tested for potential inclusion in the BASI test. Item writing was followed by pilot testing of items with national samples in the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002. Finally, the standardization of the BASI Survey test took place in the fall of 2002 and in the spring of 2003. Validity and reliability studies were also conducted during these times. National samples for pilot testing were drawn from (1) students in grades 3–12 in school districts across the United States and (2) adults—who were parents of school-age children—undergraduate and graduate students, and employees at some businesses.

Size of Item Bank: 

141 items


The BASI Survey consists of two tests: Verbal Skills and Math Skills. Verbal skills are assessed using vocabulary, language mechanics, and reading comprehension items. Math skills are assessed using math computation and math application items.

Alternate Test Forms: 


Required / Recommended Administrator Training: 

All materials and reports offered by Pearson Assessments are assigned a qualification level based on the credentials required to purchase them. The BASI test is a Level C product. Level C purchasers must provide credentials indicating that they have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education, human resources, or a closely related field. Specific course work or workshops are not required.

Test Administration Procedures: 

The BASI Survey can be administered as both a paper and pencil test and a computer test.

Scoring - How: 

By hand or by computer

Scoring - Type: 

For each skill area or subtest (i.e., Vocabulary, Language Mechanics, Reading Comprehension, Math Computation, and Math Application), raw scores are converted to standard scores with a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 3. For each total test (i.e., Verbal Skills or Math Skills), the sum of the standard scores from the skill areas are converted to standard scores with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15.

Scoring - Who: 
  • Hand Scoring: Test administrator may hand score assessments on answer sheets using an answer key.
  • Computer Scoring: Computer-administered tests are scored automatically.
Scoring - How Long: 
  • Hand Scoring: It takes approximately 15 minutes to score the BASI Survey by hand.
  • Computer Scoring: Computer administered scoring is completed immediately after the test is completed.
Reporting Procedures: 

A computerized report is generated when using either one of the following three procedures: (1) keying in an examinee’s responses using Pearson Assessments software, (2) scanning the examinee’s responses using an answer sheet, scanner, and Pearson Assessments software, or (3) administering the BASI Survey to an examinee by computer using Pearson Assessments software. A computerized report is not generated when scoring the test by hand.

Time Needed for Assessment: 

The BASI Survey is administered in 50 minutes or less than 1 hour.

Publisher / Company / Source: 

Pearson Assessments
Phone: 1-800-627-7271
Fax: 1-800-632-9011 or 952-681-3299

Versions & Publication Dates: 

BASI Survey, 2004


Prices for the BASI Survey begin at $40.25 for a package of 10 Math and Verbal test booklets. Scannable answer sheets are sold separately and are $22.50 per package of 25 answer sheets. Summary reports are availabe at $8.50 for math only and $10.50 for math and reading. Hand-scoring answer sheets start at $100 for 25 Math and Verbal answer sheets. The Survey Manual ($52) is required. Visit the Web site or call 1–800–627–7271 for more information.

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