How to Pass the TABE Test?

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Are you a student writing the TABE test to qualify for a new academic challenge? Are you a worker who needs the TABE test to get to the next stage of your career? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this article is for you. The TABE test examines your skill levels and aptitudes. It is an important step in your promotion chain, so it’s natural to worry about its difficulty level. Like any other exam, the TABE test is passable. But you’ll need to prepare. Detailed preparation helps you understand what will be required of you in the test. This article highlights everything you should know about the TABE test before the test date.

What's on the TABE Test?What’s on the TABE Test?

First of all, it’s important to note that the TABE is a diagnostic test designed to test a person’s skill levels and aptitudes. It is the short form for Test for Adult Education and is used in the corporate world and academic settings. The test is typically used to test your math, language, and reading abilities. So, you can expect to see questions related to these subjects in the exam. It also tests your ability to apply these subjects in a workplace setting.

Your score on the test can determine your eligibility for many top-level programs. For students that are GED bound, the TABE language test will be used as criteria for placement in adult education programs.

Here let’s briefly review the subjects contained in the TABE test and what you should expect to see in each subject.


The math section of the TABE test usually consists of questions on fractions, decimals, and integers. You’ll also find a few questions on word problems on estimation and measurements. We recommend learning data analysis during practice as there are several questions from this topic every once in a while.

TABE Reading Section

This section is designed to test your ability to read, understand and recall. Therefore, you’ll typically find comprehension passages and questions to test your understanding of the passages. You will also find questions dealing with text analysis and purpose explanation under this section.

TABE Language Section

The language section covers questions relating to language structure and grammar. Therefore, candidates are usually advised to focus on these topics and get comfortable with them beforehand. During your preparation, it’s also essential to learn a thing or two on paragraph usage, essay writing, and spelling since there are occasional questions dedicated to testing your knowledge in these areas.

How Many Questions Are on the TABE Test?

How Many Questions Are on the TABE Test?

If you’re preparing for the TABE test, the first and most important information you should know after what it entails is that it comes in different versions. Each version contains different numbers of questions. If you’re sitting for the complete battery TABE test, you can expect to face 195 multiple-choice questions. On the other hand, you’ll encounter only 100 multiple choice questions in the smaller survey exam. Always remember that the TABE exam is designed to measure your skills in reading, language, and math, so you’ll get questions from each of these subjects.

Let’s also mention that each year’s version includes three smaller sections which are optional to take. These sections include spelling, vocabulary, and language mechanics. Each of the optional sections has 20 questions.

Below, let’s break down the main portions of each version of the TABE test and how many questions to expect from them.

Complete TABE Battery

This version contains 195 questions, usually divided into four sections.

Test Sections Number of Questions Time Allowed (Minutes)
Language 55 55
Reading 50 50
Math computation 40 24
Applied math 50 55

Survey TABE 

This version contains 100 questions, usually spread across four subjects as follows:

Test Sections Number of Questions Time Allowed (Minutes)
Language 25 25
Reading 25 25
Math computation 25 15
Applied math 25 25

How are TABE Tests Graded?

How are TABE Tests Graded?

It’s important to note that all the above versions of the TABE test are designed to be diagnostic tools. Therefore, there are no failure or pass marks. However, most test-takers still target to score as highly as possible. The first step to scoring very well is knowing how the test is graded.

There are two methods of scoring the TABE test:

  • The use of a scanning device (for the TABE 11 & 12)
  • Online (TABE-PC)

Irrespective of the scoring method, the number of correct answers will be tallied and measured against standard scores.

It’s also important to note that the TABE test has five difficulty levels (literacy, easy, medium, difficult and advanced).

Your performance in the exam is primarily determined by how close to the average score for your category you are. Different educational institutions and workplaces have different expectations for their candidates, and your goal should be to score higher than the average expectations of your institution/workplace.

For example, if, after testing in the Easy category, your score is way above the average for the category, it’s an indication that you should move to the next category.

Bear in mind that the test’s grading is usually determined by the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Council of Teachers of Math, and the International Reading Association. All three associations work together to decide the grade boundary appropriate for each level. The grade boundary gets reviewed periodically.

Can You Fail a TABE Test?

Can You Fail a TABE Test?

The simple answer to this question is that you can’t fail the TABE test. Instead, your score range would be used to place you into appropriate levels of courses and programs. Different schools or workplaces can set TABE goals that you have to pass before reaching the next stage of your career. Don’t confuse that as a general passing score.

However, you can be unsuccessful in parts of the exam, in which case you’ll be required to retake the exam section. For example, if you do well in reading and English but fail to do well in math, you’ll only need to retake the math section and not the entire exam.

So, how hard is the TABE test?

Now that you know that you can’t fail the TABE test, you’re probably wondering whether the exam is difficult or not. The difficulty level of the test depends on individual experience and how well you prepare. Many people who have written the test think that it’s not difficult, especially with adequate studying. Therefore, we recommend adequate preparation before taking the exam. Find useful tips on how to prepare for the TABE test in the next section.

7 TABE Test Taking Strategies

7 TABE Test Taking Strategies

Yes, we’ve said it, you can’t fail the TABE test, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. Despite being considered relatively easy, you still need to know the best preparatory and test-taking strategies to do well in the exams. This section will highlight some of these strategies to help you prepare better for the exams.

Before The Exam Date 

Know What the Exam Contain

The first and most crucial aspect of your preparation is to note what’s contained in the exam. As stated above, the exam covers multiple choice questions in language, reading, and math. Before you start studying, head to the TABE’s official website to see the topics covered in these subjects. This information helps you tailor your preparatory efforts to the necessary areas.

Explore the Right TextBooks and Study Guides 

Now that you know what to expect, the next step is to find textbooks that cover these areas. The TABE test requires detailed study, so it’s vital to get textbooks with sufficient details to help you scale through. If you want, you can also get study guides, flashcards, and other study materials to help you study well.

Practice Past Questions

Practicing past questions does two things:

It helps to familiarize you with the exam structure

It also builds the confidence you’ll need to approach the exam.

Fortunately, there are tons of practice materials online, so it shouldn’t be difficult finding one that suits your reading schedule. Remember that the TABE test is usually timed, so regular practice can get you as close to your best finishing time as possible.

On The Exam Date

Be Positive and Do Your Best 

We can’t overemphasize the importance of positivity when preparing for or writing any exams. Many students come into the TABE exam venue scared. Being scared is the first recipe for failure. Instead, be confident and believe that everything you’ve studied would be enough to get you through.

Be Sure You Understand Every Instruction

Instructions are essential in this test. Therefore, we generally advise test-takers to read all the available instructions in each section before starting. If you don’t understand any instructions, call the attention of any of the supervisors to explain to you.

Plan Your Time Well

Always remember that the exam is timed. This means that there’s a time you should spend on each question. Overstaying on one question would mean sacrificing the time for other questions. Therefore, it’s important to be conscious of time while answering each question. Don’t be under any pressure, but remember to answer each question as quickly as you can.

Understand The Questions

There’s no such thing as trick questions in the TABE test, so don’t read unnecessary meaning into the questions. Read and understand the question before answering, but don’t assume there’s another meaning.

Wrapping Things Up: Is the TABE Test Hard?

Whether you’re preparing for the TABE test as a student or a worker, you’ll often wonder how difficult the test is. The test is generally considered not difficult for people who prepare well. So, if you want to find the test easy, the first step for you is to prepare well. Like you, several other test-takers are preparing for the TABE test, so it’s relatively easy to find materials that can help. We’ve reviewed some preparatory steps in this article to help you prepare better. The most important preparatory step is to know what the exam entails and focus your attention on them. This way, you won’t waste your time studying irrelevant materials. Preparations also help put you in the right state of mind for the test. It takes away tension and makes you confident in your ability to ace the test.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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