General Assessment of Instructional Needs

General Assessment of Instructional Needs (GAIN)

Narrative Summary: 

GAIN measures the English and math skills of adults and teens, from beginning literacy and numeracy to more advanced skills taught in secondary schools. GAIN helps place students in courses that match their skill levels and provides diagnostics that can be used to create individual study plans to remediate deficiencies.

Intended Population: 

Adults and teenagers with a range of skill levels from Beginning ABE Literacy to High Adult Secondary Education.


GAIN diagnostic results are used for student motivation, placement, targeted instruction, and measuring educational gains. GAIN can be used as a pre-test, a progress test, and a post-test.

Skills Measured-Test Content: 

GAIN items measure: Information Retrieval, Letter and Word Recognition, Reading Comprehension, Words in Context, Parts of Speech, Proofreading for Grammatical Errors, Punctuation/Capitalization, Sentence Structure, Addition, Basic Numeracy, Division, Multiplication, Subtraction, Charts and Graphs, Fractions and Decimals, Operations, Geometry and Trigonometry, and Pre-Algebra/Algebra.

Range of Skill Levels: 

All skill levels (EFL1-EFL6) are measured on the same GAIN test form: no locator, no leveled forms.

Number of Items per Test: 

GAIN English (reading, writing) has 80 items. GAIN Math has 75 items.

Types of Items: 

GAIN uses a wide variety of item types. English items range from basic word recognition to more advanced grammar, sentence construction mechanics, and reading comprehension. Math items range from simple number recognition, addition, and subtraction to word problems, charts, graphs, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

Development of Items: 

In developing GAIN, the NRS EFLs served to define the content domain for GAIN and served as a critical reference point during every stage of test development. A team of internal and external writers created items for evaluation and field testing. Items placed into experimental test forms for exhaustive field testing at adult education sites located throughout the United States.

Size of Item Bank: 

There are more than 1,500 total items in the item bank. Together, GAIN Form A and Form B have 310 items.


GAIN item types fall into a primary scale, subscales, and categories. English Subscales include grammar/usage/style and reading. English Categories include parts of speech, proofreading, punctuation/capitalization, sentence structure, information retrieval, letter and word recognition, reading comprehension, and words in context. Math Subscales include arithmetic, rational numbers/operations/charts & graphs, algebra/geometry/trigonometry. Math Categories include basic numeracy, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, operations, charts & graphs, fractions/decimals, pre- algebra/algebra, geometry & trigonometry.

Alternate Test Forms: 

GAIN Online Form A, GAIN Paper Form A, GAIN Online Form B, GAIN Paper Form B.

Required / Recommended Administrator Training: 

For all NRS and DOL funded programs, test administrators are required to be certified and trained by Wonderlic. For Certification, Wonderlic electronically provides study materials and an online exam. Study time is typically 2 hours. Upon passing the exam, Certification is valid for 2 years. Training is conducted via a regularly scheduled instructor led 1-hour GAIN training webinar. There is no charge for certification and training.

Test Administration Procedures: 

Wonderlic administration procedures are included in the Certification and Training process, GAIN Administrator’s Guide, and GAIN Test Administrator’s Workbook. All GAIN reference documents are also available in the Resources section of the Wonderlic Online interface.

Scoring - How: 

GAIN Online is automatically timed and scored by the Wonderlic Online server. GAIN Paper-and-Pencil is scored by Wonderlic Online server via an online template for data entry or fax-back.

Scoring - Type: 

The GAIN is scored using a three parameter logistic Item Response Theory (3-PL IRT) model.

Scoring - Who: 

GAIN Online is automatically scored by the Wonderlic Online server. GAIN Paper-and-Pencil provides users an online interface template to enter test taker responses, or an automated fax-back service.

Scoring - How Long: 

GAIN Online results are automatically available upon test session completion. GAIN Paper-and-Pencil results are available as soon as test taker answers (from bubble sheet) are entered in the Wonderlic Online server, or when the bubble sheet is received by the fax-back service.

Reporting Procedures: 

The Wonderlic Online interface provides a secure online view for a program to track their student test taking history and GAIN test results. The GAIN Individual Report can display results from a single administration, or compare results from two administrations. Reports can be printed individually or in a batch. Student test history and results can be exported from the Wonderlic Online interface to an Excel file. Results can be electronically transferred from Wonderlic to another database. Student history and results can be archived, but are never deleted.

Time Needed for Assessment: 

90 minutes: The 45 minute English (reading, writing) skills section and 45 minute math skills section can be administered back-to-back or individually.

Publisher / Company / Source: 

Wonderlic, Inc.,
400 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 200,
Vernon Hills, IL 60061,
phone: 800.323.3742