FSAT Frequently Asked Questions


About the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool

The National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults defines foundation skills as the combination of:

  • English language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) - listening, speaking, reading, writing, digital literacy and use of mathematical ideas; and
  • employability skills, such as collaboration, problem solving, self-management, learning and information and communication technology (ICT) skills required for participation in modern workplaces and contemporary life.

Foundation skills development includes both skills acquisition and the critical application of these skills in multiple environments for multiple purposes.

Foundation skills are fundamental to participation in the workplace, the community and in adult education and training.

More information on foundation skills is available.

FSAT can be used by trainers and educators such as registered training organisations (RTOs) and senior secondary schools (for year 11 and 12 students studying vocationally oriented programs), enabling them to assess their client's foundation skill levels, and identify skills and knowledge where additional development may be beneficial.

FSAT will also enable training providers to benchmark the English language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) levels of their students, so they can measure the effectiveness of their programs through pre and post assessment.

FSAT allows students to be automatically assessed online against the following English language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skill areas of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF):

  • Learning (Indicator 02 only)
  • Reading
  • Listening (Receptive)
  • Numeracy

For the majority of VET learners, it is recommended that organisations and their administrators select the medium level (Form 2) assessment for each of these four core skills. The Form 2 entry point provides learners with a starting point of accessible questions mainly at ACSF level 3. Learners will be presented with the first group of items at these levels and, based on their responses, will be presented with the next group of questions progressively higher or lower in difficulty.

It is estimated that at least 80% of VET learners can start their LLN assessments at this middle level of the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

The fact sheet on where to start learners in FSAT provides further information on the starting points to assign learners to for an FSAT assessment.

The FSAT qualifications fact sheet provides recommendations regarding the knowledge, skills and understandings required to administer the language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) components of FSAT that align with the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF).

Benefits of participating in this phase of development

FSAT was made available to RTOs and senior secondary schools (for Year 11 and 12 students) in September 2016. While there has been strong interest from RTOs and senior secondary schools to date, the department is keen for more RTOs and senior secondary schools to use the tool.

By participating, you will be helping to ensure that a fully validated, final and free version of FSAT is available as quickly as possible.

By using this version of FSAT, you will be helping to ensure that ACER can collect sufficient empirical evidence to psychometrically validate the final content of the online assessments. Only after this is complete will the Department of Education and Training be able to make a full and final version of FSAT available for use.

For all the online components of FSAT (Learning, Reading, Receptive Listening and Numeracy from the ACSF and all nine skill areas of CSfW), the reports of any learner sitting an assessment will be available immediately to the RTO or organisation

For all the offline components of FSAT (Writing, Interactive Listening and Speaking), the available sets of prompts and marking guides are all available online and can be used fully now by RTOs or organisations to assess these core skills validly and reliably. These skill areas are not dependent on further psychometric analysis and validation.

It should be noted that until a full psychometric analysis on this version of the tool is complete and the final tool is released, any results generated for the online skills assessed should be considered indicative only.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), the contracted development organisation, requires further learners to sit the assessments in order to gain empirical evidence to validate the final content of the online assessments. This is  to guarantee that the results reported will be necessarily a valid, reliable and fair assessments of a learner's foundation skills.

As FSAT is yet to be fully validated, feedback from all users (organisations and learners) on any issues is welcomed and encouraged. Feedback should be emailed to: fsat@acer.edu.au


The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has worked and continues to work with the Department of Education and Training (the department) to develop this tool.

In registering for an FSAT account, organisations are to supply some basic contact information for the purposes of ACER administering to the tool.

From time to time, the department may collect your details (such as name, email address and phone number) from ACER for the purpose of analysis and development of the tool and undertaking user surveys.

The department may disclose your personal information for the above purposes to Australian contracted organisations required to adhere to the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988, which apply to the collection, use, disclosure, storage, access to and security of personal information.

From time to time, the department may conduct a client satisfaction survey utilising third party companies owned and operated outside Australia. The department would contact you prior to undertaking such a survey to obtain your consent to store the organisation's administrator's email address in an offshore website.

For further information about how you can access or correct your personal information, or make a privacy complaint, please refer to the department's privacy policy available at www.education.gov.au/privacy-policy.

When submitting personal information to ACER via the Foundation Skills Assessment Tool (FSAT) website, Test Users will be asked to accept that this information will be used by and disclosed to ACER for the purposes of assessing a Test User's foundational skills competence and for reporting purposes to a user's relevant vocational or educational institution (the Purpose).

ACER, in pursuing the Purpose, may collect a Test User's sensitive information such as cultural background.

Should a Test User decide not to provide such personal information, that Test User may not be able to undertake the FSAT assessment or ACER may not be able to provide the Test User or the Test User's relevant vocational or educational institution with the results of the user's participation in that assessment.

ACER may disclose a Test User's personal information (including sensitive information) to:

  • ACER contractors which may assist ACER in pursuing the Purpose from time to time;
  • a Test User's relevant vocational, training or educational institution; and
  • where ACER is required to do so by law, to government agencies, or individuals appointed by government, responsible for investigating and resolving disputes or complaints connected with the FSAT.

A Test User's personal information will not be disclosed overseas to anyone other than that Test User (if the Test User is an overseas Test User).

Any Personal Information a Test User provides is private, confidential and will be treated according to any applicable law. ACER is bound to comply with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and its privacy policy.

The policy sets out a Test User's rights and processes to:

  • complain about a breach of privacy:
  • access and have amended your personal information held by ACER.

Should a User have any queries, please contact ACER's Manager of Legal and Commercial Services, Rhonda Farkota, ACER, 19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, rhonda.farkota@acer.edu.au .

Other issues

The FSAT accessibility fact sheet provides information on FSAT in relation to web accessibility requirements. It also provides some general guidance on potential strategies to assist users who are encountering accessibility difficulties, as well as responses to a number of 'frequently asked questions'.

The Department of Education and Training appreciates that many stakeholders are keen to utilise the final, validated version of FSAT, and is working to make this available as soon as possible. The exact timeframe will depend on how quickly sufficient learners sit the assessments, providing the empirical evidence to validate the final content of the online assessments.

The Department of Education and Training will keep stakeholders updated through this website with any further information on when the final validated version of FSAT will be available.

FSAT is available for free use.

Organisations that have successfully completed the registration process for FSAT have access to a range of resources whenever they are logged in. We strongly recommend that organisational users familiarise themselves with all of these resources.  Additionally, further resources are available of the department's FSAT Resources page.