What is TIMSS?

The Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international survey that monitors the maths and science achievement of year 5 (pupils aged 9-10) and year 9 (pupils aged 13-14) pupils world-wide.

More than 60 countries will participate in the assessment which provides high quality, internationally comparative data for educational researchers, policy makers and schools to draw upon and use to share best practise.

Governed by the IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) in partnership with the Department for Education, RM Results, The Institute of Education (University of London) and World Class Arena this programme is separate and complementary to PISA 2015.

TIMSS takes place every four years and has been running since 1995. This makes TIMSS 2015 the sixth cycle and will provide researchers with 20 years of trend data which will prove to be invaluable, not only to the UK but researchers around the globe.

Why is TIMSS important?

The findings from TIMSS 2015 study will be used to inform education policy and improve teaching and learning in maths and science. The TIMSS data is not only used for international comparisons, but with the increased focus on STEM subjects, this data will be used to great effect here in the UK.

The national report will provide in-depth analysis of the data collected for England and will focus on questions such as:

  • How do pupil attitudes to maths and science in England compare to other countries and how does it affect their test scores?
  • How does England’s curriculum and teaching compare internationally, and how does this affect performance?
  • How do STEM teachers and head teachers views on resources or subject teaching time compare to their international colleagues?
  • How has the picture changed since previous rounds of TIMSS?

The Data collected from TIMSS will have the potential to directly influence policy in the UK and is an invaluable tool for promoting the education system in the UK globally.

How does my school benefit from taking part in TIMSS?

To recognise the important contribution to making the survey a success, all participating schools will receive the following benefits:

  • A test administrator to work with your school to invigilate the tests and questionnaires, to minimise the demands on the school
  • Each school will receive a unique analysis of their pupils results via a secure online report, presenting data on achievement and attitudes towards maths and science
  • School and individual pupil certificates to celebrate participation
  • Invitation to a regional workshop to explore the findings nationally

2015 TIMSS Study Information

Field trial

A successful field trial was conducted in March 2014 involving a small group of schools to test the administrative processes and to ensure that the TIMSS main study would ensure an excellent experience for all participating schools.

Pupils were asked to complete assessments and a questionnaire under the following headings:

  • Maths
  • Science
  • Pupil questionnaire

Please see below for additional information on the assessments and questionnaires the pupils will undertake.

Main Study

The main study for TIMSS 2015 will take place from March to May 2015.

A sample of 300 schools will be specially selected during a sampling process. This process ensures that a characteristic sample of schools is selected to represent England in TIMSS 2015. It’s very important that the maximum number of schools take part so that England can meet the strict international sample participation requirements to be involved in this study

One (or two) classes within sampled schools will take part in the assessments. These classes will also be specifically selected to ensure proper representation.

Each school will be asked to provide a contact who the National Centre team can liaise with directly to provide support and guidance throughout the TIMSS process.

Please see the timeline below for key dates and milestones:

September 2014
Selected schools are informed about their participation in TIMSS.
Schools register with the National Centre and begin preparations for the test day.
From March 2015
Testing period commences and participating schools take part on their selected day (NB: TIMSS is completed in half a day).
May 2015
Testing period ends and the expert marking, data entry and data analysis starts.
Early 2016
The report is complete and shared.
Schools are invited to attend a regional workshop.


There are separate assessment frameworks for maths and science for year 5 and year 9 pupils. Each framework covers a range of thinking skills within three cognitive domains: knowing, applying, and reasoning.

The questions assess pupils’ abilities to demonstrate their knowledge, apply what they have learned, solve problems, and reason through analysis and logical thinking.

The assessment content for maths for year 5 pupils focuses on numbers, geometric shapes as well as measurement and data display. For year 9 pupils the content will focus on algebra, geometry and data.

Science content for year 5 pupils includes life science, physical science and earth science. Year 9 pupils are assessed within the content of biology, chemistry, physics and earth science.

The IEA’s TIMSS 2015 Assessment Frameworks provides further information.


There will also be questionnaires that will be aimed at collecting about the school and classroom context.

The data from these questionnaires will provide a dynamic picture of schools and educational practices, allowing us to make comparisons internationally.

There are three questionnaires for TIMSS 2015;

Pupil Questionnaire – This is a questionnaire that the pupils will complete at the end of their assessments. It collects information on pupils’ attitudes towards maths and science and captures their learning experiences within the school environment.

Teacher Questionnaire – This online questionnaire is completed by the maths and science teachers of the sampled classes. It captures teachers’ experiences, views and attitudes towards the teaching and learning of maths and science within the classroom environment.

School Questionnaire – This is an online questionnaire that the head teacher of the participating school for TIMSS 2015 completes. It captures the head teacher’s experience, views and attitudes towards the teaching and learning of maths and science within the school environment.