NAPLAN – general

The National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual national assessment for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9, and is the only nationwide assessment that all Australian children undertake.

It’s a measure to see whether or not young Australians are developing the literacy and numeracy skills that provide the critical foundation for other learning, and for their productive and rewarding participation in the community.

All government and non-government education authorities have contributed to the development of NAPLAN materials.

NAPLAN helps governments, education authorities and schools to see whether young Australians are reaching important literacy and numeracy goals. It provides information about how education programs are working, areas for improvement, and which schools need support in the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy.

It can support school improvement by enabling teachers to monitor their students’ progress against the national measure, to identify strengths and areas to improve in teaching programs. It provides additional information to support teacher judgement about progress in a child’s level of literacy and numeracy attainment.

NAPLAN also allows parents to see how their child is progressing against national standards in literacy and numeracy. As students progress through their school years, it’s important that checks are made along the way to see how well they are learning the essential skills of reading, writing and mathematics – skills that will set them upon the path to success as adults.

NAPLAN offers students an insight into where they are at on their learning journey. By sitting NAPLAN and trying their best, students help to make sure teachers and schools have the right information to help every student in Australia get the support they need to reach their full potential.

Literacy and numeracy are core to a well-rounded education and are essential life skills that students develop in every aspect of daily life, no matter what further education or career path they take. Students can’t fail NAPLAN as it’s not that type of test – they should just try their best.

NAPLAN tests are one aspect of each school’s assessment and reporting process, and do not replace the extensive, ongoing assessments made by teachers about each student’s performance.

All students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are expected to participate in NAPLAN. Every effort is made to ensure it is an equitable experience, regardless of a student’s language background, school location or disability. Visit Accessibility to discover how participation in NAPLAN is accessible.

NAPLAN tests the important skills that are essential for every student to progress through school and life, such as reading, writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy. The content of each test is informed by the Australian Curriculum. The literacy tests are based on content in the English learning area, and the numeracy tests draw content from the Mathematics learning area.

For more information on the types of skills and understandings that students are generally expected to demonstrate at their particular year of schooling, see What’s in the tests and Proficiency level descriptions.

In the reading, numeracy and conventions of language tests, questions may be multiple choice or technology-enhanced (such as drag and drop), or require a short written response. In the writing test, students are expected to write a continuous text. To support students in the writing task, time is provided to allow students to plan their response.

To explore the full range of NAPLAN item types, visit the Public demonstration site. For more information about the writing test, see the relevant FAQs at NAPLAN – writing test.

ACARA and all Australian governments have committed to promoting maximum participation of students in the national assessment program.

ACARA has implemented a range of adjustments to support students with diverse learning needs and functional abilities to complete NAPLAN. These adjustments enable an equivalent experience for students during testing and include, for example, magnification, alternative questions, keyboard accessibility, extra time and rest breaks. These adjustments are generally identified in the student’s personalised learning plan and reflect the support normally provided in the classroom. Students who have a temporary injury may also be reasonably accommodated.

Parents, carers and students can visit the Public demonstration site to familiarise themselves with the item formats used in the online tests and, where necessary, the alternative items that are available.

Where there is not yet an online equivalent adjustment to the paper-based NAPLAN test, paper tests (braille and large print, for example) and adjustments can be used. For more information, visit Accessibility.

Students and teachers can familiarise themselves with the test experience, including the types of items included in the tests, by using the Public demonstration site. The Public demonstration site tests can also be accessed through the NAP locked down browser.

Schools determine the device that students should practise on. As much as possible, students’ readiness or familiarisation activities should be done on the same (or similar) device to the one students will use for the main NAPLAN tests.

A number of activities are available in the lead-up to NAPLAN to support schools and teachers, such as training and practice tests. Schools should contact their local test administration authority to discuss training opportunities ahead of NAPLAN.

Schools must follow the requirements set out in the NAPLAN national protocols for test administration when scheduling their NAPLAN tests. These requirements include:

  • scheduling all tests as soon as possible within the test window and prioritising morning sessions over afternoon sessions.
  • scheduling writing for Year 3 on day 1 of the window and writing for Years 5, 7 and 9 on day 1, with day 2 only used where there are technical/logistical limitations.

Events such as camps, excursions and carnivals are not considered logistical issues.

As part of NAPLAN planning and preparation, it is recommended that schools train additional staff to provide back-up test session administration support.

Students can complete NAPLAN using a variety of devices, such as laptops and tablets. Schools do not require a device for every student.

The test window for NAPLAN is 9 days to allow flexibility for tests to be staggered. Students do not all need to complete the tests at the same time.

Visit Technical requirements for more information.

Technology solutions for schools with very low or intermittent bandwidth have been developed. Schools should contact their state or territory test administration authority to enquire about this option.

Tailored testing adapts to student responses in real time. At several points, the test branches each student onto a pathway with questions that are more or less difficult based on the student’s answers. The adaptive nature of the tests means students are more likely to stay engaged with the tests as they receive questions better suited to their ability. This gives students more opportunity to show what they know and can do.

A student’s NAPLAN result is based on both the number and difficulty of questions the student answers correctly. A student who completes a more complex pathway is more likely to achieve a higher result than a student who answers the same number of questions correctly but follows a less complex pathway.

Branching messages (PDF 458 KB) between testlets advise students whether they may go back to previous testlets to change their answers, or not. Changing answers will not affect their branching but will affect their final score. For Years 7 and 9 students, the numeracy test includes a non-calculator section and a calculator-allowed section. At the end of the non-calculator section, a message will inform students that they cannot return to the non-calculator section after they select ‘next’ and move to the calculator-allowed section. For students in all years, the conventions of language test includes a spelling section and a grammar and punctuation section. At the end of spelling, a message will inform students that they cannot return to spelling once they select ‘next’ and move to the grammar and punctuation section. Students are prompted to check their answers before moving on.

See Tailored tests for more information.

Schools have been transitioning to tailored testing for NAPLAN online since 2018. Several other testing programs accessed by schools use a form of tailored testing; for example, the online Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading Vocabulary and Mathematics, which uses adaptive testing to match questions to each student’s level of achievement.

The locked section prevents students from using the words in the grammar and punctuation section to answer spelling questions. Many international multistage online tests prevent students from going back on their answers. This is similar to the Years 7 and 9 numeracy test, in which the calculator-allowed section is locked once the non-calculator section is started.

Spelling is assessed as a part of NAPLAN. A general requirement of NAPLAN is that the student’s device must be secured (using a locked down browser) so they cannot access unauthorised websites, applications and spell-checking features.

Editing tools such as copy, cut, paste and move text are available during the online writing assessment. Spelling and grammar checks (autocorrect) are disabled on the NAPLAN testing platform, as these elements of students’ writing will be marked in the assessment.

All questions in NAPLAN are keyboard accessible. See Keyboard shortcuts.

NAPLAN questions assess a wide range of levels of difficulty. What differs from student to student in the online test is targeted questions of either higher or lower complexity, depending on the student’s performance. These targeted questions are designed to provide more focused, detailed results that can be used to target teaching.

NAPLAN uses tailored testing, which means the test automatically adapts to student performance and presents questions that match student achievement level, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge. This means students are likely to be working on different questions at different times and many will be sitting tests with different items.

The tailored test design also offers many more items than the paper tests, providing additional security protection.

While access to computers at home or at school varies, students’ performance during the test is likely to depend on how familiar they are with the device they are using for the test, rather than how often they use a computer. Ensuring students are familiar with using devices, typing on them and navigating through programs is a part of a student’s learning and a requirement of the Australian Curriculum.

Schools must ensure that all students are familiar with the functionality of the NAPLAN tests and the range of question types in all the tests. For this purpose, schools can use the Public demonstration site or equivalent method as advised by their local test administration authority.

The writing test is not about handwriting skills and NAPLAN is not about keyboarding skills. There are variations in how fast and well a student can type, just as there are variations in how fast and well a student can write by hand.

ACARA research shows that online writing is similar to handwriting in terms of the quality of writing produced by students at each year level. It also shows that students generally appreciate the use of online features such as editing tools (noting that online features such as grammar and spell-check are disabled during NAPLAN testing).

Students do not have to be able to touch type to successfully complete the test.

The Assessment Platform (under Education Services Australia’s direction) has state-of-the-art security protections. It is designed and has been extensively tested to be compliant with government and industry standards for security, interoperability, privacy and accessibility.

The online test environment has been used for NAPLAN since 2018, and NAP sample assessments beginning in 2015.

Student background information (including student identifier, gender, date of birth, language background and Indigeneity) and test participation and performance data are collected as part of the National Assessment Program. This information is treated confidentially and held securely to ensure that every student’s right to privacy is maintained. The Assessment Platform has been built with state-of-the-art security features that have been rigorously tested.

Visit NAPLAN privacy to see the NAPLAN privacy notice.

Students are supervised to ensure test conditions are maintained.

Test administrators are responsible for checking that students are working on the correct test.

No student is disadvantaged if their device stops working during the test. In the event the device stops working, all responses will have been saved and the student can complete their test on another device or in a rescheduled test session.

Students can use paper to work out or plan their answers. This paper is collected by a test administrator at the end of the test.

No. Schools cannot share NAPLAN tests (including sharing via email/social media) with any person, including the media or parents of students who completed the tests. There are no exceptions to the rules regarding the release of NAPLAN tests. NAPLAN tests are subject to copyright restrictions due to the use of third-party materials, including texts and images.

Schools receive NAPLAN results data from their state/territory test administration authority and may refer to this when discussing a student’s results with parents/carers. These reports include information about the skill/s assessed in questions presented to a student, but do not display the specific questions answered by students. Exemplar questions are available through the Student and School Summary Report (SSSR) provided to some schools by test administration authorities. Due to the nature of tailored testing, students see different questions based on how they perform in the test and as such there is no single version of the test that is available to be shared.

The public demonstration site and past NAPLAN paper tests are available for familiarisation.

NAPLAN is not a test of content. The tests are constructed to give students an opportunity to demonstrate skills they have learned over time through the school curriculum, and NAPLAN test days should be treated as just another routine event on the school calendar. The best way you can help your child prepare for NAPLAN is to reassure them that NAPLAN tests are just one part of their school program, and to urge them to simply do the best they can on the day.

Ensuring students are familiar with using devices, typing on them and navigating through programs is a part of students’ everyday learning and a requirement of the Australian Curriculum. Teachers will ensure that students are familiar with the test formats and will provide appropriate support and guidance. Excessive preparation is not useful and can lead to unnecessary anxiety. If you have any questions about your child’s preparation for NAPLAN, you are encouraged to make a time to speak with their teacher. The NAPLAN Public demonstration site is available for students and their parents to visit together. Exploring the look and feel of NAPLAN tests, and becoming familiar with the online test experience, can help reduce anxiety.

For tips on things you can do at home to help your child develop their literacy and numeracy skills, visit For parents and carers.

Neither education ministers nor ACARA endorse any organisation that may be offering NAPLAN-style tests and answers, diagnostic tools or any other product or service to teachers or students in connection with NAPLAN. These organisations are not authorised by and do not represent the education ministers or ACARA. Teachers and students who are considering purchasing such products or services do so at their own risk and need to make their own assessment as to their suitability.

NAPLAN supports BYOD (bring your own device) for students. BYOD devices must be secured so students do not have access to unauthorised websites, applications and spell-checking features. NAP locked down browser applications are available to support schools in ensuring online assessments run smoothly.

See Technical requirements.

The NAPLAN online test player includes an on-screen calculator in the calculator-allowed section of the Years 7 and 9 numeracy tests. Calculators may not be used for any other NAPLAN tests.

The NAP locked down browser prevents students from accessing other calculator applications on their device. For students who don’t require assistive technology to complete NAPLAN, physical calculators or the calculator function of an additional device such as a tablet or iPad are not permitted. This is outlined in the NAPLAN national protocols for test administration.

Where a student with disability cannot access the on-screen calculator for the calculator-allowed section of the numeracy test, the student may use a physical calculator subject to the conditions noted in the protocols.

For students with disability who access the large print or braille tests, the calculator that is used on a regular basis in the classroom should be available, under the following conditions:

  • For students using braille, the inbuilt calculator in devices such as the BrailleNote, BrailleSense or Orion XS can be used, provided that access to the internet is disabled.
  • For students using large print, standalone or talking calculators can be used with a headphone jack.
  • For students using large print who are not familiar with using a standalone calculator, but who access a calculator on their computer on a regular basis, this can be used, provided that access to the internet is disabled.

The NAPLAN coordinator or school principal and the teacher should discuss if additional supervision is required and document the decision made. If you are unsure about exactly which device your child is allowed to use, contact your test administration authority for more information.

Extensive research undertaken by ACARA informed the design of NAPLAN online and paper tests so that they are comparable. Results for both paper and online tests are reported on the same NAPLAN measurement scale for each test.

The alternative format (paper) and online tests assess the same literacy and numeracy skills, and test students on the same curriculum content.

The development of NAPLAN tests takes 18 months and involves experts from across Australia. Specialist writers are engaged to develop test questions (items), and possible questions are carefully considered to make sure curriculum coverage is appropriate for the relevant year levels. All test items are trialled by samples of students to inform decisions about which items will be used in the final tests. This process ensures the quality of the tests. The final test forms are reviewed by experts and approved only after they meet strict criteria.

For more information on this process, see Test development.

  • Education Services Australia is responsible for developing the online assessment capability and platform, using ACARA’s detailed requirement specifications.
  • ACARA is responsible for developing the NAPLAN assessment and for reporting the results of these assessments.
  • State and territory test administration authorities are responsible for ensuring their schools are technically and logistically prepared to undertake testing.

NAPLAN tests are conducted at schools and administered by classroom teachers, school deputies or principals. Each state and territory is responsible for marking the writing tests in accordance with strict guidelines and processes.

Student answers to multiple-choice and technology-enhanced questions are marked electronically. Text-entry items and the writing tasks are marked by trained, independent markers. Each state and territory is responsible for marking responses that are not electronically marked.

Administration of the NAPLAN tests, including marking, is managed by the test administration authority in each state or territory.

If parents have additional questions they should contact their school. If the school is not able to help, questions can be directed to the test administration authority (TAA) in their state or territory.

Schools should contact the TAA in their state or territory with any queries.

Questions about the administration of NAPLAN tests should be directed to the appropriate TAA.

Questions about the overall National Assessment Program can be directed to ACARA.