Most ice rinks offer group ice skating lessons, and part of most standard group figure skating lesson courses include the chance to take achievement basic figure skating skills tests. Some ice arenas use the U.S. Figure Skating Basic Skills Test Program; other skating rinks offer Ice Skating Institute (ISI) tests. Skaters receive stickers, certificates, and badges after passing these skating tests. Some of these test levels are Basic 1--8, Freestyle 1--8, Dance, Pairs, Hockey, and Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta badge tests.
Those new to figure skating need to know that U.S. Figure Skating has an entire test structure that is beyond Basic Skills ice skating tests. This "advanced" test structure makes it possible for figure skaters to be eligible to compete in certain competitions. These standard figure skating tests are the ones that count and are the ones that "mean something" on an ice skater’s resume.
Full U.S. Figure Skating membership is required in order to take skating tests beyond the basic skills. These official skating tests usually take place during special club test sessions and are judged by a qualified judging panel.
To master the positions, edges, and turns necessary for figure skating, ice skaters do Moves in the Field. Moves in the Field tests must be passed before taking the corresponding free skating or pair skating tests. For example, the Juvenile Moves in the Field test must be passed before being eligible to take the Juvenile free skating test or the Juvenile pairs test.
Figure skating tests begin at the Pre-Preliminary level and end with the Senior level tests. In order to compete at a certain level, skaters must pass the test that is at the level the skater wishes to compete at. For example, in order to compete in Intermediate Pairs, skaters must pass the Intermediate Moves in the Field and Intermediate Pairs tests.
The first tests a skater may take may not take long to pass and prepare for. Some skaters may take six months to prepare for a test, while it can take others a year or more. As time passes, ice skating tests become more and more difficult. The passing standard is very high. Many skaters do not pass figure skating tests. If a skater does not pass a figure skating test, after waiting 28 days, the test may be attempted again.
Figure skating tests are not administered in a casual manner. They are usually taken at official test sessions where the skater is the only skater on the ice surface, and are judged by a highly qualified panel of judges. Fees are involved. Skaters do the required test moves to an original and individually planned program set to music. Moves in the Field tests are done in a certain order, but without music.
Those testing compulsory ice dances may choose to take only one, two, or all of the dances in a test. There is a solo track option available for those who wish to take ice dance tests without a partner.
Figure skaters that pass the Senior Freeskating, Senior Moves in the Field, Gold Dance, Senior Free Dance, Senior Pairs, and Adult Gold tests become U.S. Figure Skating Gold Medalists. Earning a U.S. Figure Skating test gold medal is a major achievement. Every American figure skater that the public sees competing at the World Figure Skating Championships and at the Olympics is a "Gold Medalist."
U.S. Figure Skating issues figure skaters certificates and badges after passing tests. These certificates and badges are usually given to a skater through his or her figure skating club. The names of all skaters who have passed tests are listed on U.S. Figure Skating's website. Skaters may also purchase test medals and pins after passing U.S. Figure Skating tests.