The working unit Competencies is made up of projects jointly aiming to assess and analyze competencies that are considered to be important for education and for trajectories of educational acquisition in different life stages.

‘NEPS Compentencies’ is the largest of these projects. Its main purpose is to develop test instruments to enable the collection of several educationally relevant competence domains across the entire life course—from Kindergarten to old age. Surveys of competencies are designed, among other things, to shed light on how competencies are acquired over the life course and how they contribute to obtaining educational qualifications and leading a successful individual and social life.

The project ‘MultiTex – Process-Based Diagnostics of Text Comprehension with Multiple Documents (Multiple Documents Literacy, MDL)’ focuses on the competencies of higher education students. The central point of this project is the competence to comprehend texts while integrating pieces of information from various other sources and documents—a vital competence for students from many different disciplines.


The focus of the cooperation project “REAching young adults with low ACHievement in literacy” (REACH) is a group of young adults from 16 to 35 with low literacy. First, this special group needs to be characterized on the basis of extant data sources. Then, a small number of approaches and possibilities for making contact will be tested and concurrently evaluated.


Another project has already been completed: ‘PIAAC-L – Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies – Longitudinal’ dealt with the development of competencies during adulthood and accompanied the German PIAAC sample, which is also known as PISA for adults, over three additional survey waves with internationally comparable competency tests. Thus, important insights about the importance of individual competencies for employment careers could be gained.