PISA is a cyclic survey, each step is repeated every three years.

•The development phase starts in the year preceding the first year of a new three-yearly cycle. The different expert groups meet to develop test instruments. Afterwards, the test development group and the technical expert group meet.
•Once the test booklets and the questionnaires are internationally developed in English and French, the national versions can be constructed (translation of the instruments and composition of the test booklets) in the National Centre.
•To guarantee and test the operational procedures for sampling students and administration of the assessment in schools, and to collect data to ensure that the questions in the background questionnaires developed for the main study are sound in all countries, a field trial is set up. The results from the field trial will not be reported, but are only used to test and optimize the PISA material.
•The data collection for the main survey takes place in the year the cycle refers to. A large amount of students (approximately 5.000 students in each country or region) in different schools participate.
•The results of the main survey will be reported in the year following the main survey.