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ETS® Proficiency Profile

Improve the quality of instruction and learning

Select a topic to see how the ETS® Proficiency Profile can provide the valid, reliable data you need.

ETS Proficiency Profile Content

Skills measured

The ETS Proficiency Profile is a test of college-level skills in reading, writing, critical thinking and mathematics designed to measure the academic skills developed through general education courses, rather than the subject knowledge specifically taught in those courses.

All of the subject knowledge required to answer each question is contained in the question itself or the supporting materials that accompany the question.

College-level reading questions measure students' ability to:

  • interpret the meaning of key terms
  • recognize the primary purpose of a passage
  • recognize explicitly presented information
  • make appropriate inferences
  • recognize rhetorical devices

College-level writing questions measure students' ability to:

  • recognize the most grammatically correct revision of a clause, sentence or group of sentences
  • organize units of language for coherence and rhetorical effect
  • recognize and reword figurative language
  • organize elements of writing into larger units of meaning

Critical thinking questions measure students' ability to:

  • distinguish between rhetoric and argumentation in a piece of nonfiction prose
  • recognize assumptions
  • recognize the best hypothesis to account for information presented
  • infer and interpret a relationship between variables
  • draw valid conclusions based on information presented

Mathematics questions measure students' ability to:

  • recognize and interpret mathematical terms
  • read and interpret tables and graphs
  • evaluate formulas
  • order and compare large and small numbers
  • interpret ratios, proportions and percentages
  • read scientific measuring instruments
  • recognize and use equivalent mathematical formulas or expressions

Sample questions

Learn more about the skills measured, contexts covered and the difficulty of the questions.

The sample questions and answers are for reference only. They are not actual questions currently used on the test.

Optional essay

Get greater insight into your students’ writing and critical thinking skills with a direct and authentic measure of their ability to construct a response. The ETS Proficiency Profile essay asks students to think critically about a topic of general interest and to clearly express thoughts about it in writing. Each essay topic states a claim that can be discussed from various perspectives and applied to many different situations or conditions. The statement is followed by a set of specific instructions. Students are tasked with presenting a compelling case that supports a position on the issue.

The essay measures your students’ ability to:

  • articulate complex ideas clearly and effectively
  • state a position on a claim and provide supporting evidence
  • support ideas with relevant reasons and examples
  • sustain a well-focused, coherent discussion
  • control the elements of standard written English

Students are required to provide focused responses based on the tasks presented and demonstrate the ability to directly respond to a task.

The ETS Proficiency Profile optional essay is delivered online and can be administered with or without a proctor.

Test Content Reviews

Are you considering the use of the ETS Proficiency Profile? Request a test content review to determine if the test content and skill area coverage is consistent with your institution's expectations.


Almost 400 institutions nationwide rely on the ETS Proficiency Profile to provide the valid, reliable data they need. See how the ETS Proficiency Profile can help your institution.

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