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Rehab Measures: Adult Basic Learning Exam

Link to instrument

Find information on the ABLE here. 

Title of Assessment

Adult Basic Learning Exam 



Instrument Reviewer(s)

Initially reviewed by Timothy P. Janikowski, PhD and his University at Buffalo Rehabilitation Counseling Master’s students, Joseph Kemp and Christopher Bragg

Summary Date



The Adult Basic Learning Examination (ABLE) is designed to measure vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, language, and arithmetic (number operations and problem solving) for adults who have not completed the eighth grade. There are two forms of the ABLE. Level I purports to cover Grades 1-4 and two forms at Level II which purport to measure basic academic skills at Grades 5-8. The score format for the test is either hand or machine scored. In deference to adults with low reading skills, the vocabulary test requires no reading at all.


The ABLE is intended to measure the educational achievement of adults who may or may not have completed twelve years of education, particularly those who have not completed the 8th grade. It may be useful in designing remediation plans in an effort to raise the educational level of these adults.

Area of Assessment

Attention and Working Memory; Cognition; Language; Reading Comprehension 

Body Part

Not Applicable 

ICF Domain

Activity; Participation 



Assessment Type

Performance Measure 

Length of Test

60 Minutes or More 

Time to Administer

Approximately 60 minutes or longer.

Number of Items

Reading & Vocabulary - 50 Items; Arithmetic Comuptation Level 1 - 27 Items; Arithmetic Computation Level 2 - Additional Items 

Equipment Required

Paper & Pencil for Standard Administration
Computer, Keyboard, & Mouse for Computer Administration

Training Required

No Training

Type of training required

No Training 


Not Free 

Actual Cost

A package of 35 ABLE booklets costs $14.50.

Age Range

Adult: 18-64 years 

Administration Mode




Populations Tested


Standard Error of Measurement (SEM)

The standard errors of measurement in raw scores reflect a range from 2.7 in arithmetic computation to 4.3 in total arithmetic for both groups on Form A. The standard error of measurement in raw scores range from 2.8 on arithmetic computation to 4.4 on total arithmetic for the adult group on test Form B (Turner, 1978).

Minimal Detectable Change (MDC)

Not Established

Minimally Clinically Important Difference (MCID)

Not Established

Cut-Off Scores

Not Established

Normative Data

4000 adults sampled from 41 states

Test-retest Reliability

Not Established

Interrater/Intrarater Reliability

Not established

Internal Consistency

Internal reliability has been reported to be high (Campbell, 2014)

Criterion Validity (Predictive/Concurrent)

Correlations with other instruments were reported by Turner (1978):
  • Excellent correlation between ABLE Reading and SAT Reading by 10th grade subjects (r = .71)
  • Excellent correlation between ABLE Spelling and SAT Spelling by 10th grade subjects (r = .85)
  • Excellent correlation between ABLE Vocabulary and SAT Reading adults (r = .62)
  • Excellent correlation between ABLE Spelling and SAT Spelling (r = .78)

Construct Validity (Convergent/Discriminant)

Not Established

Content Validity

The ABLE’s content and format are oriented for adults and can be used for the measurement of academic achievement levels as low as the 1st grade (Hall, 1968).

Face Validity

Not established

Floor/Ceiling Effects

Not established


Not established

Professional Association Recommendations



The ABLE is best used with adults with limited or marginal education who wish to explore remedial educational planning.


Campbell, M. (2015). Adult Basic Learning Examination. Retrieved from

Hall, J.W. (1968). Review of the Adult Basic Learning Examination. Journal of Educational Measurement, 5(3), 271-274. Article available from:

Sticht, T.G. (1990). Testing and assessment in adult basic education and English as a second language programs. ERIC Document ED317867. Available from

Turner, H.R. (1978). Test prediction: A study of the relationships between Adult Basic Learning Examination scores and air force occupational course examination results. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Full Text (302883185). Retrieved from

Year published


Instrument in PDF Format

Approval Status Approved 
Created at 9/3/2015 9:33 AM  by Jason Raad 
Last modified at 9/21/2016 8:48 AM  by Jason Raad