What is the ITBS Test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills)?
The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) is a group-administered achievement test for grades K-12 which measures a student’s knowledge in subject areas that students have learned in school – reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The ITBS was released in the 2011-2012 school year and has replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Skills® (ITBS) and Iowa Test of Educational Development®. The new test format has been redesigned to better align the test with the Iowa Common Core Standards. The test is also better aligned with other state standardized tests such as the Smarter Balanced Assessment test.
Watch our video to learn more about Mercer Publishing’s ITBS® Test Preparation.
What is on the ITBS Test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills)?
The ITBS test has 10 core sections – reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, vocabulary, spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and computation. At the 3rd grade level and below, two additional subtests are given in word analysis and listening. The number of questions on the ITBS test ranges from 270-340 depending on grade level. With administration time, the ITBS test takes between 3-3½ hours to complete.
For a more in-depth description of the ITBS test, utilize our Frequently Asked Questions page to answer any questions you may still have or visit our Sample Questions page to see the types of questions in each section of the test.
How to Prepare for the ITBS Test (Iowa Test of Basic Skills)
The best way to prepare for the ITBS test is by exposing your child to the test format and the types of questions they will see on the day of the test. Each full-length ITBS practice test has over 300 questions to practice and comes with answers and explanations. Downloadable versions of our tests are available for Mac and PC users for instant access.
The Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS Test) is used by school districts to assess a student’s college and career readiness. They are also becoming more prevalent as a component of determining whether a student will be admitted into a schools Talented and Gifted Program (TAG or GATE program).
In the 2011-2012 school year Houghton Mifflin Harcourt replaced the Iowa test of basic skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development with the newly designed Iowa Assessments.
The new design was implemented to more closely follow the Common Core State Standards. New research was also done on the Iowa Assessments to connect performance to the ACT test. This will allow Iowa Assessments scores to determine if a student is on track to be ready for college.
Many schools rely solely on these test scores to place your child in the best programs. It is, therefore, highly beneficial to make sure that your child understands what each of the test areas is asking for ahead of time.
Our full-length practice tests for the ITBS test are in the same format as the actual test. With our practice tests your child will become familiar with how the tests are formatted, the symbols used and the number of questions in each test area. This will insure that they know what each test area is asking.
The official guideline from the publisher is that students should not guess if they do not know the answer – that random guessing compromises the validity of the scores. However, the ITBS score is calculated based on the number of right answers and the student is not penalized for incorrect answers. As a parent looking for a high score, it is better for your child to answer all questions than leave an answer blank.
Scores on the Iowa Assessment can be compared with scores earned by a nationally representative sample of students who took the test (the norm group). The Iowa Assessment score that reflects this comparison is called a national percentile rank (NPR). If a student’s national percentile rank in Reading is 62, then the student scored as well as or higher on this subtest than 62% of his/her same-grade peers in the national norm group. The percentile ranks range from 1 to 99. The national average in all subtests is 50%.
Other scores received from the Iowa Assessment may include:
Scale scores (total score received for the subtest)
Raw scores (number of questions the student answered correctly)
Grade equivalent scores (number that describes the student’s location on an achievement continuum of grades and months, at which the typical student receives the scale score)
Number attempted (the number of items the student answered)
Score reports generally contain a narrative that helps with understanding and/or interpreting the score results.
Sample Questions for the (ITBS Test) Iowa Test of Basic Skills
The ITBS test covers the following 10 subject areas: Reading, Written Expression, Mathmatics-Concepts and Estimation, Science, Social Studies, Vocabulary, Spelling, Capitalization, Punctuation, and Mathmatics-Computation. At grades 3 and below two additional sections, Word Analysis and Listening, are also included in the test.
For a more in-depth description of the ITBS test, utilize our Frequently Asked Questions page to answer any questions you may still have.
In the Reading Section, students are given a passage to read followed by several questions about the passage. The student must read the passage and then answer the questions by selecting the answer that best answers the question from the choices provided.
Lucy was no ordinary girl. She had been born with a special gift, a gift other people considered to be unusual. When she was only 3 years old her parents noticed she had a special way with animals. She loved animals and the animals that she came into contact with were especially attracted to Lucy.
In the Written Expression section, students are tested on their writing skills - sentence structure, grammar and usage, verb tense and punctuation.
There are two types of questions in this section. The first type of question is similar to the Reading Sections - students are given a passage to read followed by several questions about the passage. In this section, the passage contains numbers to identify sentences and underlined portions to identify words or short phrases within the passage. Students should select the answer that best answers the question.
Sample question (Type 1):
q My brother’s name is Jason. w He is 5 years old. e Jason likes to pretend he is a super hero. r He keeps a red cloak and a black mask under his bed. At any time, he might run to his room, scramble under his bed and grab them. t The next thing you know, Jason dressed like a super hero, dashing around the house in his shiny outfit, pretending he can fly!
Sample question (Type 2):
Mathematics-Concepts and Estimation:
In the Mathematics-Concepts and Estimation section students will be given math problems that will test their understanding of numbers and math concepts. Some questions will include a picture or diagram that students must use to answer the question.
In the Science section, each question is designed to test a student’s understanding of science. Students must choose the best answer for each question.
In the Social Studies section, students are tested on their knowledge of social studies. The Social Studies section is divided into 4 sections, Civics/Government, Geography, History, and Economics.
In the Vocabulary section, students are tested on their word knowledge. Each question has a short phrase with one word underlined. Students must determine which of the available answers has the same or almost the same meaning as the underlined word.
In the Spelling section, students must look for words that are not spelled correctly. Each question will have four words and an option that says (No mistakes). If any of the first four words is misspelled, the student should mark the letter that corresponds to that word on the answer sheet. If none of the words are misspelled then the student should select the option that says (No mistakes).
In the Capitalization section, students must look at a short passage and determine if there are any mistakes in capitalization. If the student finds an error in capitalization, they must mark the letter that corresponds to the line that has the capitalization error on the answer sheet. If the passage has no capitalization errors then the student should select the letter that corresponds to the line that says (No mistakes).
In the Punctuation section, students must look at a short passage and determine if there are any mistakes in punctuation. If the student finds an error in punctuation, they must mark the letter that corresponds to the line that has the punctuation error on the answer sheet. If the passage has no capitalization errors then the student should select the letter that corresponds to the line that says (No mistakes).
In the Computation section, students are given math problems to test their ability to compute equations. Each list of answers will include and answer choice that says “N”, which means the correct answer is not given.
In the Word Analysis section, students will be given part of a word and a picture. The student will need to choose the answer that correctly fills in the blank section of the word.
In the Listening section, an adult reads the story and question. They are designed to test a student’s listening skills. Parents or the test administrator will read the story that corresponds to each question. After the story is read the adult will ask a question about the story. The student must then select the correct picture that answers the question. They should then mark the letter that corresponds to that answer on their bubble sheet answer form.
Sample question (read by adult):
Jimmy loved to run races. He competed in many cross-country races and at the age of only 9 he won his first gold medal in a 5 mile race. His parents were proud of Jimmy, not just for winning, but for having such a passion for his sport.
Iowa Assessments is a trademark of Houghton Mifflin Company. Iowa Assessments is owned and published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Houghton Mifflin Company was not involved in the production of, nor endorses, this practice test.
To begin preparing your child for success, click on the relevant grade level to view our selection of grade specific practice tests and materials.