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ITBS Test Taking Tips

Materials adapted from Scoring High: Iowa Test of Basic Skills,  Book 7, SRA/McGraw-Hill, 2003.


·        Read each answer choice carefully.

·        If you are not sure which answer is correct, take your best guess.  (It is better to guess than to leave an answer blank.)

·        Think about where you might have read or heard a word before.

Reading Comprehension

·        Don’t waste too much time reading the passage.  Just skim it to get an idea of what it is about.

·        Look for key words in the question and answer choices.  Refer back to the passage to find the answer.

·        Some questions can be answered with information from the story.  For other questions, you have to “read between the lines.”


·        Say the words to yourself while you look at them.  This can help you find the word with a spelling mistake.

·        If you are not sure which answer is choose, take your best guess.

·        Look for different kinds of spelling mistakes: missing letters, extra letters, and wrong letters.

Capitalization and Punctuation

·        Take your time.  Read each answer choice word by word.

·        The first word of a sentence and proper nouns should be capitalized.

·        First, skim the answers.  Check for punctuation at the end of each sentence.

·        Next, read each answer more carefully.  Look for a missing comma, apostrophe, quotation mark, or other punctuation in the answers.

Usage and Expression

·        Read each answer choice to yourself carefully.  If one of the answers sounds wrong, it probably is wrong.

·        Look for incorrect verbs and words that are spelled right but used wrong.

·        Eliminate answer choices that you know are wrong.  Choose the answer that is better than the others.

Math Concepts

·        Read the question and answer choices carefully.  Look closely at fractions, decimals, numbers, and any picture that is part of the problem.

Math Estimation

·        Round numbers first and then perform the operation.

·        Decide whether you should round numbers up or down.

Math Problem Solving

·        Read the question carefully.  Think about what operation you should use to solve the problem.

·        Set the problem up on scratch paper.  Transfer numbers carefully.

·        If you solve the problem and it is not one of the answers, work it again before you choose “Not Given.”

Math Data Interpretation

·        Look at the graph or chart for each problem

·        If a problem seems complicated, try to say it to yourself in words you can understand better.

·        The chart, table or graph will always have the information you need to solve the problem.

Math Computation

·        Look at the numbers and operation sign carefully.

·        Work the problems on scratch paper before you look at the answer choices.

·        Set problems up carefully on scratch paper.  When you are finished working the problem, cross it out so it doesn’t confuse you when you do another problem.