This article identifies the main determinants of skill acquisition in Latin America. Not having repeated a grade, sex, the number of books in the home and the mother’s education are defined as individual and family characteristics. In the case of school characteristics, the results are more heterogeneous between countries. The key factors seem to be attending a private school, the number of students per classroom, the quality of the educational materials available, and larger school size and autonomy. The characteristics of the schools explain most of the variability of the results, followed by family characteristics and then individual ones. School-based factors play a particularly crucial role in Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica; family characteristics are very important in Chile, Colombia and Peru; and individual ones are important in Colombia and Mexico.