Preparing for the TABE: Test of Adult Basic Education

You need a solid base on which to build the rest of your education and your career. The Test of Adult Basic Education, aka TABE, helps you build that base.

When you take the TABE, you gain a better understanding of what skills you’ve already developed and where you have room to grow. The TABE can also help an educational program determine the class level to place you in if you’re pursuing a GED or other high school equivalency program.

What Is the TABE?

The TABE is a diagnostic exam that can give you an idea of how skilled you are in some areas and where you have room to grow. 

Some companies use the TABE to evaluate candidates before hiring or to assess employee’s skills when they are making decisions about training programs or promotions. 

If you’re looking to continue or resume your education, the TABE might be the first place you start. Many adult education programs use it to determine where to place students in GED preparation or basic education classes.

The TABE assesses your skills in three areas

  • Language
  • Math
  • Reading

During the reading portion of the test, you’ll be asked to read a passage and answer questions about it. During the language section, you might be asked to correct the grammar in a sentence or to define a word. 

The math section contains questions about geometry, arithmetic, and practical uses of math.

What Are TABE Test Scores?

The TABE isn’t graded or scored like other standardized tests, like the GED or SAT. When you take the TABE, you get a score, but it’s not a judgment on you. Instead, it reflects where you stand in terms of particular skills. Simply put, you can’t fail the TABE test.

The TABE has five levels: L, E, M, D, A. L is the least advanced level, usually around a first-grade reading level while A is the most advanced, around high school level.

The numeric score you get on the TABE test should reflect the level of test you take. For example, if you take the Level A test, the target score is between 547 and 800. If you score low on the scale, taking the Level D test can give you a better sense of where your skills are at the moment. 

The goal of the TABE is to show you what you’ve already mastered and where you have room to grow.

How to Pass the TABE

While you can’t “pass” or “fail” the TABE like you can other test types, you can prepare yourself to do as well as possible on the test. Doing your best on the TABE means that you’re more likely to get placed in a training or education program that’s appropriate for you.

You can prepare for the TABE in many ways. If you already have an idea of where you have room for improvement, you can work with a tutor to help build up your language, reading, and math skills.

There are also many online resources to help you learn and build your skills. Khan Academy has math and reading courses for levels ranging from early elementary through grade 9. You can also try your hand at TABE practice tests online1.

On the day of the test, remember to relax. The goal of the TABE is to help you. If you don’t know the answer to a question, try to eliminate the answers you know are incorrect. You can often find the right one through the process of elimination.

Also, remember to trust your gut. Your first guess is usually the right one, especially if you’re familiar with the subject and have been preparing. 

If you get your test scores back and they aren’t what you had hoped they’d be, don’t worry. You can take the test again at a lower level. Testing at a lower level isn’t a bad thing. Instead, it gives you and your instructors a better idea of where your strengths are and what you need to do to grow and learn more.

The TABE is the first step toward placement in an Adult Basic Education program at Orange Technical College. To learn more about taking the TABE, contact us today. 


  1. TABE 11 & 12 Sample Practice Items, TABETest,