How to Pass the TABE Test

How to Pass the TABE Test

Adult learners add an average of $7,500 per year to their salaries just by returning to higher education. Many adults are also going back to work as inflation and the cost of living rise.

Are you returning to the workforce or formal education? You may encounter the Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE).

TABE is a placement test system that can affect your advancement in education and career programs. If you’re looking for a guide on how to pass the TABE test, we have all the essential information and study tips right here in this article.

What Is the TABE Test?

The TABE test is an academic assessment of your knowledge and skills. It helps determine your strengths and weaknesses in certain academic areas, like reading and math.

Unlike other tests, there’s no “failing” grade. Your score is a placement guide for education or career opportunities, such as:

  • High school equivalency programs

  • Colleges and universities admissions

  • Trade schools

  • Union programs

  • Correctional facility programs

  • Job hiring

  • Workplace training

  • Career placement centers

  • Temp agencies

TABE is currently used by 44 states for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded programs. The six states who do not use TABE for WIOA programs are:

  • Washington

  • Oregon

  • California

  • Nebraska

  • New York

  • Connecticut

The TABE test is geared toward adult education. It is relevant for age groups as young as 14, however.

TABE Test Levels

TABE tests are divided into assessment levels to make placement more cohesive. These levels are:

  • Easy (E)

  • Medium (M)

  • Difficult (D)

  • Advanced (A)

  • Literacy (L)

A locator test will help your test administrator determine which level is appropriate for you. The level system also helps prospective test-takers more effectively study content across test versions.

TABE Test Versions

Although the testable content is largely the same, each version has a few key differences in form and function. There are currently six TABE product versions to choose from:

  • TABE 11&12

  • TABE Online

  • TABE Offline


  • TABE CLAS-E Online

Generally, the test administrator and/or program you test through should provide information on which version you’ll take. The TABE test can be a pre-test, post-test, and/or a continuous assessment of your academic improvement.

1. TABE 11&12

TABE 11&12 is the standard test version. It’s expressly designed to integrate with:

  • College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS)

  • WIOA regulations

  • High school equivalency placement

  • Postsecondary placement

The 11&12 version uses all five levels, including Literacy. There are three main academic assessment areas:

  • Reading

  • Language

  • Mathematics

TABE 11&12 replaced TABE 9&10 between 2017-2018. There are significant differences between test versions, so make sure any online resources you reference are for the correct tests.

2. TABE Online

TABE Online is the computer version of the 11&12. It also relies on network connectivity to access many of the automated features.

This version is for test administrators who test large groups or individuals on a consistent basis, such as in education or work programs. Its core features are automated for fast and easy administration and include a rapid report-generating system.

3. TABE Offline

TABE Offline is also computerized but can function without a consistent internet connection. It’s for situations that need secure testing and/or have unreliable network connectivity, such as correctional centers or remote areas. It’s also helpful for adults who may not be computer savvy.

4. TABE CLAS-E and CLAS-E Online

The TABE Complete Language Assessment System-English tests your English language skills. This is especially helpful for people who are English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or English Language Learners (ELL).

CLAS-E covers four main skill areas:

  • Reading

  • Listening

  • Writing

  • Speaking

This test integrates with many federal and state programs for English literacy, including the standards used by the National Reporting System (NRS) for adult education.

TABE CLAS-E Online is the computer version of the test. It’s compatible with:

  • Windows

  • MACs

  • Linux

  • Chromebooks

The online version covers the same material as the regular TABE CLAS-E. Only the testing format (computerized vs. pencil and paper) is different.

How to Pass the TABE Test

While you technically can’t fail a TABE test, you still have specific scoring categories. This is based on the number of questions you answered correctly vs. a representative average, or “norming” score.

The scoring system cross-references your TABE Level (L, E, M, D, A) with the appropriate NRS Level (1-6). For example, a score of 501-535 falls under NRS Level 3 for the TABE E, M, and D levels.

If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. Every institution and program uses scores differently. Your test administrator should have all the information you need about how scores affect your assessment in their specific program.

The most critical component of TABE test scoring is to do your best. High scores can open up more educational and career opportunities.

Like every test, your TABE test score depends on how well-prepared you are to take it. This is particularly true if you’ve been out of academic instruction for a few years. You’ll need a top-notch study strategy and study plan for the material.

TABE Test Study Strategy

There are many “do’s and don’ts” of an effective study strategy. Do’s include:

  • Do go over all the study material

  • Do start studying weeks ahead of time

  • Do keep sessions short (1-2) hours

  • Do take short breaks to avoid learning fatigue

  • Do use multiple study tools instead of just reading the material

  • Do eliminate or minimize distractions during study

Don’ts to avoid include:

  • Do not cram shortly before the test

  • Do not start studying without a plan

  • Do not attempt to study during distractions

  • Do not just passively read the material only

  • Do not consume stimulants like energy drinks, coffee, and sugar

  • Do not stay up all night and try to learn last-minute info before the test

Although most students have attempted it at some point, cramming is actually counter-productive to learning. If you want to retain information in your long-term memory, you need a workable study plan, a quiet space, and effective study tools.

TABE Test Study Plan (11&12)

Test levels will include material appropriate for that level and material from lower levels. You should plan to study and review all material levels to be prepared for the test.


The Reading section will cover the basics of word usage, such as making connections, creating meaning, or using descriptions. It has five main skill areas:

  • Integration of knowledge and ideas (all levels)

  • Craft and structure (all levels)

  • Key ideas and details (all levels)

  • Phonics and word recognition (Levels E and L only)

  • Phonological awareness (Level L only)

Reading skills include analyzing text and making inferences based on the information provided. You may also be asked to critique a passage for logic, evidence, and valid or invalid conclusions.


The Language portion goes over grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure. It has four main areas:

  • Vocabulary and acquisition use (all levels)

  • Conventions of standard English (all levels)

  • Text types and purposes (A, D, M, and E)

  • Knowledge of language (D and M only)

This section may also include writing portions. You may write your own text or be asked to correct the text provided.


The Mathematics section allows the use of reference sheets. These formulas are provided by the test administrator (you won’t have to print anything and bring it in).

Relevant tested skills include:

  • Measurements and data

  • Geometry

  • Functions

  • Operations

  • Algebra

  • Number and operations in base 10

  • The number system

  • Statistics and probability

  • Expressions and equations

  • Ratios and fractions

These skills will become more advanced as you go up in levels. For example, Level E tests you on “operations and algebraic thinking,” while Level A tests you on algebraic expressions and equations.

TABE Test Study Plan (CLAS-E)

The TABE CLAS-E is structured somewhat differently from the 11&12, as it’s a total language assessment. All four sections will include language that is relevant to formal settings (workplace and education) and informal settings (home and communities).


The reading section gives you 92 minutes to answer 75 items. It’s divided into main areas: reading words and reading comprehension.

Reading words includes features such as syntax, word meanings, and associating information. Reading comprehension includes identifying information, constructing meaning, and extending meaning.


The listening section is also 92 minutes long with 75 items to answer. It includes listening for information, understanding and identifying interpersonal skills, and interpreting meaning.


The writing portion allows 92 minutes for 75 items like the previous two sections. This area goes over the usage and conventions of writing, sentence formation, coherence, and expository writing.


The speaking section is only 15 minutes long, with 16 items to answer. It focuses on social interactions, providing standard information, and using the appropriate speaking conventions to accomplish goals.

TABE Test Practice

Practice tests are a great way to re-familiarize yourself with test-taking strategies and skills. It can also give you an idea of your current knowledge levels. Students who use practice tests consistently score higher than average on their exams.

Dynamic lessons are another effective practice method. Lessons are based on your performance, with new lessons testing you on skills and/or knowledge areas that need more study. You can only complete a section once you have mastered all the material.

TABE Test Tips

No matter how much or how well you study, your brain needs plenty of rest and fuel. Tips to boost your test performance include:

Without these, your brain can become foggy and have trouble concentrating. You may even forget the information you knew and studied at home.

Your Lifelong Learning Journey Begins Here

The TABE test is a great guide to your current academic skills and abilities. It’s especially helpful if you’re an adult learner who’s been out of educational settings for an extended time.

Now that you know how to pass the TABE test, you’re ready to start taking advantage of all the education and career opportunities out there! Sign up for a free account to get started on mastering the TABE today.

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