Essential skills assessment tool

The purpose of the essential skills assessment is to help instructors prepare English language learner (ELL) newcomers for future Canadian workplace success. The assessment provides a snapshot of the students’ workplace essential skill levels in reading, document use, numeracy, writing and listening. There is no pass or fail for this assessment and its objective is to determine ELL newcomers’ essential skills level. This test can be used as a one time test or it can be used in as a pre-/post-assessment to evaluate skill gain and areas for further upskilling.

Essential skills assessed:

  • Reading - the ability to understand and interpret information presented in texts such as notes and memos.
  • Document Use - the ability to find, understand or enter information in documents such lists, tables and graphs.
  • Numeracy - the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, decimals, fractions and per cents.
  • Listening Skills - the ability to interpret and act on information presented orally.
  • Writing Skills - the ability to identify correct grammar and write sentences and paragraphs.

Access the essential skills assessment

To provide feedback or ask questions about this assessment tool, email

If you are interested in using this tool with newcomer ELL learners in an educational program, email

Project leads

Lisa Rochman

Associate Dean,
Faculty of Skills and Foundational Learning,
NorQuest College

Kim Chaba

Faculty of Skills and Foundational Learning,
NorQuest College

Contact information