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Iowa Test and ITBS 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.

What are Iowa Tests?

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.

What is the Iowa Test Used For?

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.

Difference Between Iowa Assessments and ITBS Test

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.

Iowa Practice Test

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:

Reading Practice TestsPearsonAccess
Language / Writing Practice TestsPearsonAccess
Mathematics Practice TestsPearsonAccess
Science Practice TestsPearsonAccess

Iowa Assessment Levels

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.

LevelLowest GradeHighest Grade
Level 5Kindergarten first month1st Grade fifth month
Level 6Kindergarten seventh month1st Grade ninth month
Level 71st Grade seventh month2nd Grade fourth month
Level 82nd Grade fifth month3rd Grade fifth month
Level 93rd Grade first month3rd Grade ninth month
Level 104th Grade first month4th Grade ninth month
Level 115th Grade first month5th Grade ninth month
Level 126th Grade first month6th Grade ninth month
Level 137th Grade first month7th Grade ninth month
Level 148th Grade first month8th 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 StudySubtestsLevels
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+

When is the Iowa Test Given Out?

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.

GradeTime of YearLevels Given
First GradeFall5/6
Second GradeFall7
Third GradeFall8-9
Fourth GradeFall10
Fifth GradeFall11
Sixth GradeFall12
Seventh GradeFall13
Eighth GradeFall14

How Many Items are on the Iowa Assessment?

Level 5 Assessment

SubjectNumber of ItemsTime Given (minutes)
Word Analysis2920

Level 6 Assessment

SubjectNumber of ItemsTime Given (minutes)
Reading (part 1)1720
Reading (part 2)1720
Word Analysis3320

Level 7 Assessment

SubjectNumber of ItemsTime Given (minutes)
Math (part 1)2625
Math (part 2)1525
Social Studies2925
Reading (part 1)1720
Reading (part 2)1825
Word Analysis3215

Level 8+ Assessments

SubjectNumber of ItemsTime Given (minutes)
Math (part 1)2625
Math (part 2)2025
Social Studies2925
Reading (part 1)1820
Reading (part 2)2025
Word Analysis3315

What is a Good Iowa Test Score

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.

Iowa Testing FAQs

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

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

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

Official Iowa Test Resources

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.