Welcome to Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS)

Has your student scored at the 95th percentile or higher on any subject of a standardized test? If so, they have reached the ceiling of that test.

They have mastered the items on that test, but we don’t know how much more challenge they need. Above-level testing can help you learn more about your students’ academic abilities. Watch a video, read about how BESTS can be helpful, or click on a button below to find the testing services that fit your high-ability student(s).

I'm a parent
I'm an educator

Please note that BESTS does not accept score submissions. Students are considered part of BESTS if they register for testing through us.

Students may test through BESTS a maximum of once per academic year.

Why take another test?

  • This video (and a blog post about it) provides a helpful introduction to above-level testing:
  • High-ability students tend to score very highly on grade-level tests like the Iowa Assessments.
  • If they’re scoring at the 95th percentile or higher on any subject, they have reached the ceiling of that test.
  • They have mastered the items on the achievement test, but we don’t know how much more challenge they need.
  • Above-level testing can inform parents and educators about readiness for advanced curriculum. Learn more.

4th-6th Grade - Open Group Testing at the Belin-Blank Center

High-ability 4th-6th graders (and, occasionally, third graders) take I-Excel, a roughly 2.5-hour online above-level test. Learn more about I-Excel and why testing can be helpful.

Signing Up for Testing

The Belin-Blank Center occasionally hosts group test dates on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City, IA. This type of test date is open to all qualifying students and only requires that parents drop off and pick up their child at the designated times.

  • Test date TBD for 2018-19 academic year
  • Scores are generally released within two weeks of the test date.
  • If the test date(s) are not convenient, you may find a licensed teacher to proctor the test, which we call Individual Testing.
  • Students may take the test a maximum of once per academic year.
  • Scores will not be released until all fees are paid in full.

Special Accommodations

Special accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please direct inquiries to assessment@belinblank.org.

Payment/Refunds

  • Cost: $70 per child
  • Cost for students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $35
  • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
  • Payment for these dates is by credit card only.
  • Unpaid registrations will be dropped one week before the test date.
  • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the test date. Refund requests received the day of the test or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.

Missed Test Date

Makeups are not available for open test dates at the Belin-Blank Center. If a student registers, ultimately does not test, and did not cancel their registration by the day before testing window opened, no refunds are available.

Preparing for the Test

There are a few things students (and parents) should know before the test.

After the Test

  • Once fees are paid in full and any irregularities have been resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.
  • Scores will not be released until all fees are paid in full.
  • Please note that results will be sent from the IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration system. The email will be sent from info@idealsolutionsmath.com and the subject will be "[IDEAL Solutions Web Application] (YourChild's Name) Report - (TheDate), with the items in parentheses being specific to your child.
  • Students who score highly on an above-level test may be eligible to take courses online through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which provides above-level coursework online without a course fee (currently available in Iowa only). Only educators may register students for IOAPA.

4th-6th Grade - BESTS In-School

High-ability 4th-6th graders (and, occasionally, third graders) take I-Excel, a roughly 2.5-hour online above-level test. Students may take the test a maximum of once per academic year. Learn more about I-Excel.

Setting Up Testing

Testing dates are arranged with the Belin-Blank Center and occur between October 1st and June 10th. Other blackout dates apply. We recommend planning 5-6 weeks or more before you'd like to test.

  • An educator may set up a test date with as few as four students (for individuals or smaller groups, see Individual Testing). Prices listed are per student.
    • Are you a teacher at an Iowa school that hasn't tested with BESTS in the last three years? We may have an option for you to try I-Excel with a small group of students at no cost. Contact assessment@belinblank.org for details.
    • Above-level testing with 4 or more students: I-Excel (online only)
      • $45 each for students outside of Iowa ($22 for students who qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch)
      • $22 each for Iowa students ($12 for students who qualify for Free/Reduced Lunch)
      • For individuals or smaller groups, see Individual Testing.
    • Math-specific assessment (Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test, available for $50 through IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration)
  • Iowa educators can easily create a list of qualifying students using Iowa Testing Programs' handy online tool.
  • Download a sample letter to invite students to participate (assumes you have already set up a test date).
  • Testing may be split over two days, shortening the amount of uninterrupted time needed. This can make scheduling easier.
    • If testing is split over two days, the first 2 sections will be administered on the first test day, and the second 2 sections will be administered on the second day. Testing must be completed within one week. Other arrangements for splitting the test are not permitted.
    • For more details about how to test over the course of two days, contact assessment@belinblank.org.

Email assessment@belinblank.org to get started.

Special Accommodations

Special accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please direct inquiries to assessment@belinblank.org.

Payment/Refunds

  • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the testing session window opens. Refund requests received the day of the testing window or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.
  • Payment options: individual parent checks, group check/payment order from the school, individual parent credit card payments. The teacher selects this option during registration.
    • If the school opts to allow parents to pay via credit card, unpaid registrations will be dropped one week before the test date.
    • If the school opts to pay via check or payment order, the educator will receive an invoice approximately a week before the test date. In this case, payment may be settled after the test date, and scores will not be released until payment is received in full.
    • Checks should be made out to BESTS and, if a check is for an individual student, include the child’s name in the memo line.

Retesting/Missed Test Date

  • Retesters (students who were absent due to illness or other unforeseeable circumstances) must complete their tests within seven days of the original testing date. This is defined as the first date that students began testing. No additional fees will be assessed in this case.
  • If a student cannot finish testing within seven days, the registration must be moved to a new test date in order for the student to test. The fee associated with moving to a new test date is $25, payable by the school or the parent. If the student is not tested within the testing window of the new date, no refunds will be available, either of the original fee or the retest fee.
  • If a student registers, ultimately does not test, and did not cancel their registration by the day before testing window opened, no refunds are available.

Preparing for the Test

There are a few things students (and parents) should know before the test.

After the Test

  • Scores are released by test date – it is not possible to release scores for just a portion of the students who tested during a given date.
  • Once a test date is paid in full and any irregularities have been reported and resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.
  • Scores will not be released to the school or parents until all fees are paid in full.
  • Please note that results will be sent from the IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration system and that the teacher releases the scores to parents once they are available. The email will be sent from info@idealsolutionsmath.com and the subject will be "[IDEAL Solutions Web Application] (YourChild's Name) Report - (TheDate), with the items in parentheses being specific to your child.
  • Students who score highly on an above-level test may be eligible to take courses online through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which provides above-level coursework online without a course fee (currently available in Iowa only). Only educators may register students for IOAPA. Learn more.

4th-6th Grade - Individual Testing

High-ability 4th-6th graders (and, occasionally, third graders) take I-Excel, a roughly 2.5-hour online above-level test. Learn more about I-Excel. For this option, a licensed educator must agree to proctor a test (roughly a two-and-a-half-hour time commitment). Individual testing is often requested by a parent, although occasionally educators carry out individual testing if they have a question about a particular student’s readiness for additional challenge. In the case that the testing is requested by a parent, the parent is responsible for finding a licensed educator (who is not related to the child) who is willing to proctor the test.

Setting Up Testing

  • Acceptable proctors include full-time teachers, tutors, and college professors. The proctor cannot be a relative.
  • Please specify at the time of signing up whether you would like the proctor to have access to the scores.
  • Cost: $90 per child for up to three children. For groups of four or more, please see BESTS In-School.
  • Cost for students eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $45.
    • The number of partial fee waivers for Free/Reduced Price Lunch is limited per academic year on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
  • In most cases, we plan three weeks or more ahead of the test date.
  • To set up the testing, email assessment@belinblank.org with the proctor's information (first name, last name, and email address), as well as when you would like to test.
  • Testing dates occur between October 1st and June 10th. Other blackout dates apply.
  • Testing may be split over two days, shortening the amount of uninterrupted time needed. This can make scheduling easier.
    • If testing is split over two days, the first 2 sections will be administered on the first test day, and the second 2 sections will be administered on the second day. Testing must be completed within one week. Other arrangements for splitting the test are not permitted.
    • For more details about how to test over the course of two days, contact assessment@belinblank.org.
  • Parents in Florida may also look into open test dates at Stetson University through their High Achieving Talented Students (HATS) program.
  • Students may take the test a maximum of once per academic year.

Special Accommodation

Special accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please direct inquiries to assessment@belinblank.org.

Payment/Refunds

  • We strongly recommend handling payment by credit card, which requires that the proctor select the parent pay option when setting up the test date.
  • Refunds are available for students if we are notified by email by one day before the testing session window opens. Refund requests received the day of the testing window or later will be denied. Special circumstances may apply.
  • Scores will not be released until a test date is paid in full (including any fees).
  • Once a test date is paid in full and any irregularities have been reported and resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.

Retesting/Missed Test Date

  • Retesters (students who were absent due to illness or other unforeseeable circumstances) must complete their tests within seven days of the original testing date. This is defined as the first date that students began testing.
  • If a student registers, ultimately does not test, and did not cancel their registration by the day before testing window opened, no refunds are available.

Preparing for the Test

There are a few things students (and parents) should know before the test.

After the Test

  • Once fees are paid in full and any irregularities have been resolved, scores will be released within two weeks.
  • Scores will not be released until all fees are paid in full.
  • Please note that results will be sent from the IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration system. The email will be sent from info@idealsolutionsmath.com and the subject will be "[IDEAL Solutions Web Application] (YourChild's Name) Report - (TheDate), with the items in parentheses being specific to your child.
  • Students who score highly on an above-level test may be eligible to take courses online through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which provides above-level coursework online without a course fee (currently available in Iowa only). Only educators may register students for IOAPA.

I would like to test...

1-3 students
4 or more students

7th-9th Grade: The ACT (Educators)

ACT, a secure test, is primarily used in the college admissions process and is available only through national testing dates established by ACT. Locations are available across the United States. Designed for college-bound high school students, the ACT takes approximately three hours to complete.

  • Students who register for the ACT through the Belin-Blank Center are subject to all ACT policies and must agree to ACT's Terms and Conditions.
  • We do not offer the July or September ACT through our registration system.
  • Our registration system registers a student both as a member of BESTS and for the ACT test date of your choice. There is no need to register directly with ACT.
  • Iowa educators can easily create a list of qualifying students using Iowa Testing Programs' handy online tool.
  • Details about the test, including testing time, will arrive in the mail 2-3 weeks before the testing date.

Educators have two options for getting their students signed up for the ACT as an above-level test.

  • Educators can invite parents to register their children individually (you can download a sample letter to send to parents). The cost for ACT for individual students is $70.
    • The cost for ACT is $70 (includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee).
    • Late registration fee: $30.00
    • Cost for students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $35
    • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
  • Educators can register a group of students at the same testing location (final testing location placement not guaranteed) and, as an option, can arrange for the school to pay for this testing at a discounted rate.
    • Cost for a group: $60 per student (includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee)
    • Late registration fee: $30.00 per student
    • Teachers should register each student with the teacher’s email address and school mailing address to ensure results are sent to the school. We encourage teachers to share these results with families.
    • Please ask students not to change the address, email, or ID number on their answer sheet the day of the test.
    • For more details on registering a group of 7th-9th grade students for ACT, email assessment@belinblank.org.

Test Dates

To view testing locations for your state, please visit ACT's website.

Registration is available now.

Test DateInitial Deadline (Late Fee After This Date)Final Deadline
Saturday, October 27, 2018Wednesday, September 26, 2018Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Saturday, December 8, 2018Wednesday, October 31, 2018Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Saturday, February 9, 2019Wednesday, January 9, 2019Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019Wednesday, March 6, 2019Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Saturday, June 8, 2019Wednesday, May 1, 2019Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Signing Up

The Belin-Blank Center provides a one-step registration process for high-ability 7th-9th graders. That is, registration through BESTS signs students up both as members of the talent search and for the specific test date.

  1. Parents sign up their child for the test date of their choice and request a test date location. Please note that the Belin-Blank Center cannot guarantee a test location, as they are subject to changes by ACT and seat limits. Particularly during the spring test dates, testing locations may fill, and ACT will assign students to the next-closest testing location.
  2. The Belin-Blank Center sends the information for paid in full registrations to ACT (usually weekly). Registrations without full payment will not be sent to ACT. If they are not paid by the early registration deadline, the late registration fee will be added. If they are not paid by the late registration deadline, registrations will be dropped.
  3. Once the registration has been sent to ACT, we are unable to refund the base fee or late registration fee. If you would like to cancel a registration shortly after paying, please contact assessment@belinblank.org as soon as possible.
  4. Once the registration is processed, ACT will mail an admission ticket to the mailing address associated with the registration. You must bring the admission ticket and acceptable identification to the testing location the day of the test. If the child taking the test does not yet have an ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or school, they will need to fill out the talent search ID and bring it to the testing location in place of an ID. More instructions for preparation and the day of the test are available on our ACT Academic Talent Search Instruction Folder.
  5. If your child is 13 or older, we recommend making a copy of the admission ticket to help you received the scores faster (see After the Test, below).

Special Accommodations (Disability or English Language Learner)

Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations through ACT. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).

  • There are two types of accommodations – this infographic can help you decide which one is the best fit.
  • Accommodations are also available through ACT for English Language Learners. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).
  • Please note that you will need to apply for and be approved by ACT for accommodations in order for your child to receive those accommodations.

Payment/Refunds

Parents can save money by registering for an ACT date by that date’s early registration deadline. However, they must complete payment by that deadline, as well. If payment is not resolved by that deadline, the late registration fee will be added to the registration.

Payment is required before the final deadline, or the registration will be dropped.

No refunds will be granted after the test registration is sent to ACT (see Signing Up, above, for details).

Preparing for the Test

There are a few things students (and parents) should know before the test.

After the Test

ACT generally sends scores through the mail to parents 3-8 weeks after the test date.

If your child is 13 or older (the federal age at which a child can have an online account), they usually also send an email with instructions to sign in to an online account to see the scores. That online account requires that you have access to the ACT ID, which is printed on the admission ticket. If you don’t have a copy of it, parents have had success in calling the main ACT customer service line (319-337-1270), explaining that their child tested through a talent search, and asking for help logging in.

Once you have the scores (rather through the mail or online), you'll then be able to enter the scores in our interpretation system, IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration, using a code for a free interpretation guide (enclosed in the confirmation email you received following registration). If you have misplaced that email, please contact us at assessment@belinblank.org for instructions.

Students who score highly on an above-level test may be eligible to take courses online through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which provides above-level coursework online without a course fee (currently available in Iowa only). Only educators may register students for IOAPA. Learn more.

7th-9th Graders: The ACT (Parents/Students)

ACT, a secure test, is primarily used in the college admissions process and is available only through national testing dates established by ACT. Locations are available across the United States. Designed for college-bound high school students, the ACT takes approximately three hours to complete.

Students who register for the ACT through the Belin-Blank Center are subject to all ACT policies and must agree to ACT's Terms and Conditions.

  • The cost for ACT is $70 (includes both the testing fee and the talent search fee).
    • Late registration fee: $30.00
    • Cost for students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch: $35
    • If this reduced fee is still too great a financial burden, the Center will work with the family to make a financial arrangement that allows the student to participate.
  • We do not offer the July or September ACT through our registration system.
  • Our registration system registers a student both as a member of BESTS and for the ACT test date of your choice. There is no need to register directly with ACT.
  • Details about the test, including testing time, will arrive in the mail 2-3 weeks before the testing date.

Test Dates

To view testing locations for your state, please either visit ACT's website or our registration system.

Registration is available now.

Test DateInitial Deadline (Late Fee After This Date)Final Deadline
Saturday, October 27, 2018Wednesday, September 26, 2018Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Saturday, December 8, 2018Wednesday, October 31, 2018Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Saturday, February 9, 2019Wednesday, January 9, 2019Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019Wednesday, March 6, 2019Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Saturday, June 8, 2019Wednesday, May 1, 2019Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Signing Up

The Belin-Blank Center provides a one-step registration process for high-ability 7th-9th graders. That is, registration through BESTS signs students up both as members of the talent search and for the specific test date.

  1. Parents sign up their child for the test date of their choice and request a test date location. Please note that the Belin-Blank Center cannot guarantee a test location, as they are subject to changes by ACT and seat limits. Particularly during the spring test dates, testing locations may fill, and ACT will assign students to the next-closest testing location.
  2. The Belin-Blank Center sends the information for paid in full registrations to ACT (usually weekly). Registrations without full payment will not be sent to ACT. If they are not paid by the early registration deadline, the late registration fee will be added. If they are not paid by the late registration deadline, registrations will be dropped.
  3. Once the registration has been sent to ACT, we are unable to refund the base fee or late registration fee. If you would like to cancel a registration shortly after paying, please contact assessment@belinblank.org as soon as possible.
  4. Once the registration is processed, ACT will mail an admission ticket to the mailing address associated with the registration. You must bring the admission ticket and acceptable identification to the testing location the day of the test. If the child taking the test does not yet have an ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or school, they will need to fill out the talent search ID and bring it to the testing location in place of an ID. More instructions for preparation and the day of the test are available on our ACT Academic Talent Search Instruction Folder.
  5. If your child is 13 or older, we recommend making a copy of the admission ticket to help you received the scores faster (see next point).

Special Accommodations (disability or English Language Learner status)

Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations through ACT. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).

  • There are two types of accommodations – this infographic can help you decide which one is the best fit.
  • Accommodations are also available through ACT for English Language Learners. Students testing through BESTS should complete and pay for their registration, then use this form to request accommodations (disregard instructions to go through the school-based request system).
  • Please note that you will need to apply for and be approved by ACT for accommodations in order for your child to receive those accommodations.

Payment/Refunds

Parents can save money by registering for an ACT date by that date’s early registration deadline. However, they must complete payment by that deadline, as well. If payment is not resolved by that deadline, the late registration fee will be added to the registration.

Payment is required before the final deadline, or the registration will be dropped.

No refunds will be granted after the test registration is sent to ACT (see Signing Up, above, for details).

Preparing for the Test

There are a few things students (and parents) should know before the test.

After the Test

ACT generally sends scores through the mail to parents 3-8 weeks after the test date.

If your child is 13 or older (the federal age at which a child can have an online account), they usually also send an email with instructions to sign in to an online account to see the scores. That online account requires that you have access to the ACT ID, which is printed on the admission ticket. If you don’t have a copy of it, parents have had success in calling the main ACT customer service line (319-337-1270), explaining that their child tested through a talent search, and asking for help logging in.

Once you have the scores (rather through the mail or online), you'll then be able to enter the scores in our interpretation system, IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration, using a code for a free interpretation guide (enclosed in the confirmation email you received following registration). If you have misplaced that email, please contact us at assessment@belinblank.org for instructions.

Students who score highly on an above-level test may be eligible to take courses online through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which provides above-level coursework online without a course fee (currently available in Iowa only). Only educators may register students for IOAPA. Learn more.

Opportunities for Students

BESTS testing is only available for students in grades 4-9, but there are a variety of other options to stay connected with the Center and our programs:

  • Sign up to receive our newsletter: belinblank.org/newsletter.
  • The Belin-Blank Center offers a variety of other programs for students.
  • The Henry B. and Jocelyn Wallace Assessment and Counseling Clinic at the Belin-Blank Center offers individual evaluations conducted by licensed psychologists. These evaluations yield detailed results that are helpful in making decisions about readiness for advanced curriculum. The Clinic also specializes in counseling, therapy, and evaluations related to learning disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other psychological conditions among high-ability students. Learn more.
  • A Nation Empowered, the recent publication about academic acceleration, can be a helpful resource for parents and educators who would like to advocate for their high-ability students.
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