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ITBS - Iowa Tests of Basic Skills


The Iowa Assessments are frequently used to test for admissions into gifted and talented or accelerated learning programs. They are often used in conjunction with cognitive tests, like the NNAT or CogAT, to get a complete picture of a student’s accomplishments and potential. 



The test is available at different levels for students at different grade levels. Questions are delivered orally by the teacher and response options are pictures, words or numerals, as appropriate. Approximately 30 minutes are given for each test.

Test Structure

The Iowa Tests of Basic Skills are not aligned with Common Core and only go through the 8th grade (level 14).  Both the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and Iowa Assessments are designed to assess what a student has learned in school. The Iowa Assessments are aligned with Common Core standards, but the ITBS is not. Despite this, the ITBS is still frequently used as an admissions test for Gifted and Talented programs across the US.


Iowa Test levels 5-8 are administered to students from Kindergarten through 2nd grade, while levels 9-14 are given to students from 3rd to 8th grade. Each Iowa Test level consists of a series of subtests that are administered in sections by content.

The Level 5 Battery is given to children in kindergarten. It emphasizes early childhood academic skills, such as listening vocabulary and math, and assesses how prepared a child is cognitively to begin the academic curriculum. Level 6 is given to students in the fall and midyear of first grade and is similar to Level 5, though it also includes an optional reading test for those students who are ready to have their literacy skills assessed.

Levels 7 and 8 evaluate student skills in language arts (vocabulary, word analysis, reading comprehension and spelling), mathematics, social studies, science, and sources of information (such as alphabetizing or using a map) and are used to measure how well each student is progressing in the curriculum. Level 7 is used in the spring of first grade and fall of second grade, while Level 8 is administered in the midyear and spring of second grade and occasionally in the fall of third grade.

Levels 9 through 14 are aimed at students in third through eighth grade and assess skills in language arts, including vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage and expression; math computation, problem solving, data interpretation, concepts and estimation; social studies; science; maps and diagrams; and reference materials. The Level 9 test also includes questions about word analysis and listening.


Level 9 is given to third graders, and each successive grade takes the next level exam. For example, fourth graders are given Level 10, fifth graders are given Level 11, and so on.



Each test level within the ITBS consists of a series of subtests administered in content sections. 


Sections in the ITBS test for kindergarten to 2nd grade (levels 5-8) include:

  • Vocabulary test

  • Word Analysis test

  • Reading Comprehension test

  • Listening test

  • Language test

  • Mathematics test

  • Social Studies test (Levels 7/8)

  • Science test (Levels 7/8)

  • Computation test (Levels 7/8)


Sections for 3rd grade to 8th grade (levels 9-14) include:

  • Vocabulary test

  • Word Analysis (3rd grade, level 9 only)

  • Listening (3rd grade, level 9 only)

  • Reading/ Reading Comprehension

  • Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, Usage and Expression

  • Mathematics Concepts and Estimation, Problem Solving, Data Interpretation, Computation

  • Social Studies

  • Science

  • Sources of Information (Maps, Diagrams, Reference Materials)

  • Administration



Test results yield three different scores: a raw score, percent correct, grade equivalent, developmental standard score and percentile rank. Generally, the raw score and percent correct scores are converted to form scores that can accurately assess a student’s performance. Scores may be delivered in reference to state or national norms or in reference to criterion standards.

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