Test Levels

Countries use many different terms for each year of schooling, for example: grade, class, year-level, section. For the IBT testing program each test is identified by a subject and a test level, for example English level 3, Maths level 6 and so forth.

In any testing program across countries, comparing student cohorts is a complex issue. School years run across different dates in different countries and typical student age at commencement of the first year of schooling can differ from 5 to 7 years old.

The IBT testing is based on the student’s grade rather than on the student’s age. This is based on UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97) classification of grades. What we call Grade 3 is the third year of ISCED level 1; what we call grade 7 is the seventh year, counting from the beginning of ISCED level 1.

Typically schools should provide students with the paper that corresponds to the ‘named grade’ for the assessments: that is, children in the grade called ‘three’ should do the Level 3 test, regardless of their age; children in the grade called ‘five’ should do the Level 5 test.

Our analyses show that while the age of the students is correlated with performance for the youngest Grade levels, age decreases in relevance as the students become older. What is more important is the number of years at school. By Grade 7 there is negligible difference in terms of the age of students.

The table below shows the typical school dates, school starting age and IBT test date for some countries that administer the IBT:

Country School Year Age at Grade 1 IBT Test Date
India June - April 5-6 years November
Malaysia January - December 6-7 years November
Middle East September - May 6 years November
South Africa January - December 5-6 years October