Is the TABE Test Hard?

Instructor: Eric Campos

Eric has tutored in English, writing, history, and other subjects.

Many postsecondary and adult education programs require students to take the TABE test. Success in this exam can open doors of opportunity and influence where you can pursue studies, but is it a difficult test? Find out below.

Difficulty of the TABE Test

The TABE, or Test of Adult Basic Education, is an extensive exam that tests adult proficiency in math, reading, and language skills. While not as comprehensive as such exams as the GED, the TABE presents its own unique challenges. The level of difficulty for this exam greatly depends on the individual test taker. For example, if you excel in math, you may find the mathematics section easier than the reading section, or vice versa. Whether or not your comfortable in all three of the test categories, your knowledge of the test's format and careful preparation will help alleviate test pressure and potentially help you obtain a high score.

Basic TABE Format

The exact version of the TABE test you take will greatly influence the level of difficulty you encounter on exam day. Test takers can actually choose the difficulty level of the test they take. The test ranges are literacy, easy, medium, difficult, and advanced. The standard test version is the 9&10 TABE.

9&10 TABE

The 9&10 TABE draws from material covered in 9th and 10th grade, and the test taker has the option to choose which grade level they test in. Both levels of the 9&10 cover mathematics, language, language mechanics, spelling, reading, and vocabulary. The total exam takes a little over three hours. The language section asks 55 questions and averages 55 minutes in test time, which is the longest portion of the exam. The reading section is the second longest section utilizing 50 questions for 50 minutes. The other sections are smaller.

TABE-PC and TABE Online

You also have the option to take the computerized version of the test called the TABE-PC. While containing the same content, this computerized version does offer more advantages to the test taker. To begin, the computer program is able to score your results a lot faster than the conventional test. The program also helps test instructors decide the best TABE level to test and grade you on. This could be valuable in determining future education plans.

The TABE can also be taken online with the TABE Online test. This is another efficient test format similar to the PC version. One of the most useful features is that the instructor is able to modify your display format to whatever form that will allow you to read material better. You can also pause and resume the test if unable to complete the exam in a single setting. This version can even be untimed.

TABE Advanced-Level Test

Obviously, the TABE Advanced exam will be the hardest format. The enhanced criteria includes 132 questions and delves into more specific subjects such as geometry and social studies. This is considered an ideal exam for students to practice on before taking the more rigorous GED exam.


The TABE-E version of the test is meant for non-native speakers. This test will focus on the test taker's command of English in four areas: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. This exam is important for helping students both establish their language level in order to continue studies and explore careers. The TABE-E serves as an introduction to the TABE 9&10 for ESL students, and while the language component may seem daunting, preparing for this exam will give you a head start in studying for other TABE exams.

Studying For The TABE

The key to powering through the various TABE sections is simply to study and familiarize yourself with the core concepts in language, math and reading. Below are just a few courses with valuable review material for the TABE. Also included is a course on using practical English speaking skills for ESL students in the workplace, a good review for the TABE-E. Soar through your study time with video lessons, written reviews, and practice quizzes that are both mobile and available anytime!

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