Dave Evangelisti By: Dave Evangelisti
Iowa Test

If your child is someone who has to take an Iowa Assessment or Iowa Test of Basic Skills, also known as the ITBS test, you may be looking for ways to help them prepare for the test to alleviate the anxiety that comes with having to take any standardized test.

All children from kindergarten to eighth grade in Iowa will need to take one of these tests to measure yearly achievement and ensure they are progressing properly through school. The best way to help your child prepare is to find an Iowa practice test for their grade to help them study.

Summary: Learn about the Iowa test and what to expect. Utilize the Iowa test practice resources below to prepare for this exam.

Though they are called Iowa tests, other public and private schools utilize this test even if they aren’t in the state of Iowa. The name comes from the fact that the College of Education at the University of Iowa created this test in 1935 and called it the “Iowa Every Pupil Test of Basic Skills”.

The Iowa tests quiz your child’s knowledge that they have learned in school in reading, mathematics, language arts, science, and social studies. It’s a basic standardized test for all kids in elementary or middle school.

As mentioned above, Iowa testing is used to measure your child’s progress as they continue to each grade and make sure they are on track to move on to the next grade. This is not an IQ test, so you will not be able to use the score to qualify your student for some sort of high-IQ group.

However, the Iowa Assessment does allow teachers to see the capabilities of each child (which may qualify them for a gifted program when given with other tests) and shows the teacher where the child’s strengths and weaknesses are.

It also makes teachers aware of children who may need a little more assistance to complete their schoolwork and achieve the best they can. Since it is given to kindergarteners, there is plenty of time for teachers to provide early intervention assistance for students who need it.

Because the test follows students from year to year, the teachers can compare the results each year to the baseline from years prior. If a student starts to achieve more or less one year, the teachers can immediately provide the child with the learning plan that he or she needs.

Years later, it became known as just the Iowa basic skills test. Just like the original 1935 version of the test, the ITBS test was replaced by the Iowa Assessment in the 2011-2012 school year. The main difference is that the Iowa Assessment was designed to test Common Core Requirements.

The test also originally was distributed each year to all students in grades kindergarten to twelfth grade. With the Iowa Assessment, the test was redesigned to only be distributed to students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade.

The most important thing when finding an ITBS practice test for your child to take is that it should include relevant information and should be the grade level that you need for your child.

For example, taking a first-grade test when your kid is in third grade will not help your child. Use the following Iowa test samples to prepare:

Resource Provider
Reading Practice Tests PearsonAccess
Language / Writing Practice Tests PearsonAccess
Mathematics Practice Tests PearsonAccess
Science Practice Tests PearsonAccess

As you can see in the names of the Iowa practice tests above, there are levels that correspond with the grade level of Iowa testing. The table below can help you understand which level of test your child will be taking based on the grade they are in.

Level Lowest Grade Highest Grade
Level 5 Kindergarten first month 1st Grade fifth month
Level 6 Kindergarten seventh month 1st Grade ninth month
Level 7 1st Grade seventh month 2nd Grade fourth month
Level 8 2nd Grade fifth month 3rd Grade fifth month
Level 9 3rd Grade first month 3rd Grade ninth month
Level 10 4th Grade first month 4th Grade ninth month
Level 11 5th Grade first month 5th Grade ninth month
Level 12 6th Grade first month 6th Grade ninth month
Level 13 7th Grade first month 7th Grade ninth month
Level 14 8th Grade first month 8th Grade ninth month

Starting at level 9, the tests begin to cover just one grade at a time, so you can be certain your third grader will get the level 9 Iowa test, your fourth grader will receive the level 10, etc.

Iowa Assessment Subsections

There are five main areas of study that are covered on the Iowa Assessment. However, there are subsections covered in each of the core test areas.

Area of Study Subtests Levels
Language Arts
  • Listening
  • Word Analysis
Level 9
Language Arts
  • Conventions of writing (capitalization, punctuation, spelling)
  • Vocabulary
  • Written Expression
Levels 9 to 14
  • Algebraic Patterns and Connections
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Number Sense and Operations
All levels
  • Data Analysis
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Computation
Levels 7+
  • Computation of algebraic manipulations, decimals, and fractions
Levels 9 to 14
  • Comprehension
  • Word Recognition
Levels 5 and 6
  • Author's Craft
  • Explicit Meaning
  • Implicit Meaning
  • Informational Text
  • Key Ideas
  • Literary Text
Levels 7+
  • No testing
Levels 5 and 6
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Life Science
  • Physical Science
Levels 7+
Social Studies
  • No testing
Levels 5 and 6
Social Studies
  • Civics and Government
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History
Levels 7+

The Iowa testing is typically given three times a year (for baseline and progress tracking) with the only exception being twice a year in kindergarten.

Grade Time of Year Levels Given
Kindergarten Fall N/A
  Winter 5
  Spring 5-5/6
First Grade Fall 5/6
  Winter 5/6-7
  Spring 7
Second Grade Fall 7
  Winter 8
  Spring 9
Third Grade Fall 8-9
  Winter 9
  Spring 9
Fourth Grade Fall 10
  Winter 10
  Spring 10
Fifth Grade Fall 11
  Winter 11
  Spring 11
Sixth Grade Fall 12
  Winter 12
  Spring 12
Seventh Grade Fall 13
  Winter 13
  Spring 13
Eighth Grade Fall 14
  Winter 14
  Spring 14

Level 5 Assessment

Subject Number of Items Time Given (minutes)
Language 27 25
Listening 13 30
Math 27 25
Reading 17 30
Vocabulary 23 20
Word Analysis 29 20
Total 146 150

Level 6 Assessment

Subject Number of Items Time Given (minutes)
Language 31 25
Listening 27 30
Math 35 25
Reading (part 1) 17 20
Reading (part 2) 17 20
Vocabulary 27 20
Word Analysis 33 20
Total 187 160

Level 7 Assessment

Subject Number of Items Time Given (minutes)
Computation 25 25
Language 34 25
Listening 27 25
Math (part 1) 26 25
Math (part 2) 15 25
Science 29 25
Social Studies 29 25
Reading (part 1) 17 20
Reading (part 2) 18 25
Vocabulary 26 15
Word Analysis 32 15
Total 278 250

Level 8+ Assessments

Subject Number of Items Time Given (minutes)
Computation 27 25
Language 42 25
Listening 27 25
Math (part 1) 26 25
Math (part 2) 20 25
Science 29 25
Social Studies 29 25
Reading (part 1) 18 20
Reading (part 2) 20 25
Vocabulary 26 15
Word Analysis 33 15
Total 297 250

The Iowa Assessment is scored on a scale of 1 to 99 in percentiles. So, if your child scores at the 60th percentile, that means they are ahead of 60% of their peers. The United States average for the Iowa Assessment is the 50th percentile. However, a score in the 90th percentile or higher is likely gifted.

How much does the Iowa test cost?

The Iowa test is distributed to all schools in Iowa for the cost of $3.50 per student.

Is the Iowa test an IQ test?

No, the Iowa test is not an IQ test, but it can check to see if your child deserves gifted student accommodations.

How do I prepare for an Iowa assessment?

You can prepare your child or yourself by using an Iowa practice test (like the ones listed above).