TIMSS 2015 Assessment Items

The TIMSS 2015 mathematics and science assessments are based on the TIMSS 2015 Assessment Frameworks and were developed collaboratively with the participating countries, involving input from experts in education, mathematics, science, and measurement.

The TIMSS 2015 assessments contain 879 assessment items, 458 of which were carried forward from the previous assessment cycle to measure trends. For the 2015 cycle, 142 items were newly developed for the fourth grade assessments and 177 items for the eighth grade assessments. Additionally, 102 items were developed for TIMSS Numeracy, a fourth grade mathematics assessment introduced in 2015 to assess fundamental mathematics knowledge, procedures, and problem-solving strategies for students that were likely to find TIMSS 2015 at the fourth grade too difficult. The TIMSS assessments primarily use two item formats: multiple-choice and constructed response. At least half of the total number of points represented by all the items come from multiple-choice items. In developing assessment items, the choice of item format depends on the mathematics or science being assessed, and the format that best enables students to demonstrate their proficiency.

To facilitate the process of creating the student achievement test booklets, TIMSS assessment items are grouped into a series of item blocks, with approximately 10–14 items in each block at the fourth grade and 12–18 at the eighth grade. TIMSS 2015 had a total of 28 blocks assigned to 14 different achievement booklets at each grade level. TIMSS Numeracy had a total of 10 blocks of items, 2 of which were the same as fourth grade mathematics blocks, assigned to 5 different booklets.

The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center develops the TIMSS assessment instruments in English. In cooperation with the IEA Secretariat, an Arabic source version also was produced for TIMSS 2015. The TIMSS 2015 assessment instruments were translated into 43 different languages by the participating countries around the world. To ensure that the assessment instruments were internationally comparable and at the same time appropriately adapted for the national context of the participating countries, all translated assessment instruments underwent a rigorous review by linguistic and assessment experts.

Restricted Use Items

According to the TIMSS 2015 design, 16 of the 28 item blocks at each grade level and 8 of the 10 TIMSS Numeracy blocks are kept secure for use in the TIMSS 2019 assessments. Keeping this substantial proportion of the items secured is critical to safeguarding the measurement of trends in 2019. TIMSS 2015 items that are not secured to be used for the next assessment cycle may be available upon request for restricted use. To request access and permission to use the TIMSS 2015 Restricted Use Items, please fill out the IEA’s permission request form and contact the IEA Secretariat.

The TIMSS 2015 Restricted Use Items are provided along with the following item documentation abut each item: ID number, item block and sequence number, content and cognitive domain, the correct answer key and distracter rationale for multiple-choice items, and the scoring guide for constructed response items.

Assessment Item Information Downloads

A number of documents related to the achievement items are available for download below. These same documents are presented in Methods and Procedures in TIMSS 2015 and/or are available for download with the TIMSS 2015 International Database. These include summary information on the TIMSS 2015 assessment items, the IRT item parameters estimated for all assessment items from the item calibrations, and percent correct statistics for all of the TIMSS 2015 assessment items.

More information on the TIMSS 2015 instrument development, sampling, data collection procedures, and reporting can be found in Methods and Procedures in TIMSS 2015.

Some TIMSS 2015 materials are available in Portable Document Format (PDF). If needed, download Adobe Reader© to read and print these materials.

TIMSS and PIRLS are registered trademarks of IEA. Use of these trademarks without permission of IEA by others may constitute trademark infringement. Furthermore, the website and its contents, together with all online and/or printed publications and restricted use items by TIMSS, PIRLS, and IEA are and will remain the copyright of IEA.

All publications and restricted use items by TIMSS, PIRLS, and IEA, as well as translations thereof, are for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes only. Prior notice is required when using IEA data sources for assessments or learning materials. IEA reserves the right to refuse copy deemed inappropriate or not properly sourced.

Exploitation, distribution, redistribution, reproduction and/or transmitting in any form or by any means, including electronic or mechanical methods such as photocopying, information storage and retrieval system of these publications, restricted use items, translations thereof and/or part thereof are prohibited unless written permission has been provided by IEA.

When quoting and/or citing from one or more publications and/or restricted use items from TIMSS, PIRLS, and IEA for the sake of educational or research purposes, please print an acknowledgment of the source, including the year and name of that publication and/or restricted use item. Please use the following acknowledgment as an example:

SOURCE: TIMSS 2015 Assessment Frameworks. Copyright © 2013 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Publisher: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College.

Please note that citing without naming the source can or will constitute plagiarism for which you can and will be held accountable. To request permission to reuse, reproduce, or translate IEA material, please fill out the permission request form »


Please note that the website and its contents, together with all online and/or printed publications and restricted use items (‘works’) by TIMSS, PIRLS, and IEA, were created with the utmost care. However, the correctness of the information cannot be guaranteed at all times and IEA cannot and will not be held responsible or liable for any damages that may arise from the use of these resources, nor will IEA be liable for the wrongful use and/or interpretation of its works.

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