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How to Prepare for the ITBS Exam

Updated on January 21, 2012

Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Study Techniques

The University of Iowa (Iowa Testing Programs) runs the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills program (the ITBS exam). It assesses student academic achievement levels from kindergarten to the 8th grade. Students should learn the various ITBS test-prep resources.

Iowa Testing Programs does not offer much directly in the way of preparing for the ITBS exam. Some feel that excessive preparation may lead to skewed results that make it look like the student has reached an achievement level higher than his real level. This may be why the program does not offer online test-prep resources to parents and students for the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.

On the other hand, there are some third-party companies that provide ITBS study guides, practice questions, or other preparation materials.

The best way for any student to prepare is to thoroughly read and review all relevant textbooks at his or her grade level and to engage in as much general reading as possible. For younger students, reading with the child while correcting pronunciation and discussing the main idea behind whatever is being read can be beneficial in developing critical reading skills. There really is no substitute for reading experience when it comes to doing well on tests like the ITBS for English. Reading also helps comprehension for other subjects like science and social studies.

With that said, most parents are very busy, and it may be helpful to get some commercial ITBS test-prep aids to prepare your child. What follows are summaries of some of these test-preparation products.

Bright Education:

This company has over 1000 exam practice questions online for each level of the test. Tests covered include the ITBS test and similar state assessment exams like the Florida FCAT and ISTEP. The price to access the practice questions is around $30, as of August 2011. See the Resources section below for a link to this and other exam preparation products.

The Critical Thinking Co.:

This outfit has some ITBS study guides. There is one guide for each of the levels of the exam instead of one major guide. The estimated prices for these test-prep packages are as follows: $74 for kindergarten, $110 for first grade, $110 for second grade, $193 for Grades 3 and 4 combined, $150 for Grades 5 and 6 combined, and $100 for Grades 7 and 8 combined. Just remember that there is no substitute for general reading and study of the relevant textbooks in each subject.

Note: Riverside Publishing does not endorse any study guide for the ITBS test. It notes that general preparation for the test format may be helpful in raising scores. Your child should do as many practice questions as possible to get used to answering questions in the ITBS exam format.


Bright Education: ITBS Practice Questions

The Critical Thinking Co.: ITBS Exam Study Guides


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    • Marie Gail profile image

      Marie Gail Stratford 

      6 years ago from Olathe, KS

      I find it rather sad that standardized testing is still such a key "indicator" for elementary education. While I am glad there is some test preparation assistance for children, it doesn't change the fact that some children just aren't good test takers.

      Interestingly, during my time as a recreational therapist in Kansas City, I found that many of my lower performing students improved their reading skills considerably in tandem with improving their physical coordination by taking dance lessons with me after school. Sadly, my class was replaced with "proper" test preparation after only a year, and I didn't get a chance to properly write up my findings into anything beyond anecdotal evidence.


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