Can Third Graders Take I-Excel?

I-Excel can be a very challenging test for 3rd graders, but some students are quite successful. Even if your child has already earned a high score on the Iowa Assessments, it is hard for us to predict how your child might do on I-Excel. There are likely to be questions on I-Excel that your child has never encountered. If he or she becomes very frustrated and upset in those types of circumstances, we advise waiting until next year. However, if your child is the kind of student who is willing to take on a challenge, your child can be permitted to test.

A few 3rd graders have taken I-Excel in the past, but this is not an opportunity offered to a large number of 3rd graders. The content is quite challenging -- it is actually 8th-grade-level content.

One thing that might help you in making your decision is to have your child take the sample test. You can request access to the sample test by emailing

If you decide to test, we recommend talking with your child about it ahead of time and explaining the following things to him or her:

  • This test was designed for 8th graders.
  • We don't expect young students to get everything right.
  • The test will be several hours long, and students will be expected to concentrate for the duration with a short break halfway through the test.
  • Many students don't even have enough time to finish all of the questions on the test.
  • Taking I-Excel is a chance for students to show what they know, but also what they don't know, and it can help us to have a better idea of the types of things that might challenge them more in school.

The information families and teachers receive from testing is very helpful. The report is quite detailed, and it contains information about additional resources.

If you decide not to have your child test this year, consider participating next school year. Students are welcome to test in the fall; they do not have to wait until spring.