A Guide to the Ice Skating Institute's Beginning Figure Skating Tests

Basic skills new skaters should learn

Full Length Of Couple Figure Skating
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Many ice rinks in the United States use the Ice Skating Institute (ISI) figure skating test structure. After new ice skaters complete the Pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Ice Skating Institute basic skating skills tests, they are eligible to learn more advanced ice skating skills.  

Most ISI skaters go on to work on passing ISI freestyle tests, but others work on couples, pair, ice dance and other advanced Ice Skating Institute skating tests.

In addition to taking ISI tests, many Ice Skating Institute skaters participate in recreational ice skating competitions.

This article lists the beginning ISI (Pre-Alpha, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta) test requirements.

  • Visit the ISI Ice Skating Institute Website

Pre-Alpha ISI Ice Skating Test

Beginning Ice Skaters
Beginning Ice Skaters. Jade Albert Studio, Inc. / Photographer's Choice RF Collection / Getty Images

Gliding on two feet is a necessary basic ice skating skill and gliding on one foot is fun and challenging for new ice skaters. Forward and backward swizzles are a great way for those new to the sport to learn to bend their knees.

The swizzle is a basic step, where the skater begins with their heels touching and feet in a "V" position. Next, push the feet outward, then draw them inward making the shape of a fish. 

To do a backward swizzle, reverse the process, starting with the toes touching. Swizzles are best done with the knees slightly bent. 

For this test, skaters need to know how to do the following: 

Alpha ISI Ice Skating Test

Stroking properly and doing forward crossovers around an ice rink without using toe-picks to push is difficult for new figure skaters, and of course, stopping is essential.

Crossovers are the way ice skaters move around corners. When skating on a curve, the skater crosses the outside skate over the inside skate. In order to get enough speed to execute a jump, a skater needs to be able to execute backward crossovers. But first, they should be confident in skating forward ​crossovers.

For this test, skaters need to learn:

  • Forward stroking
  • Forward crossovers in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions 
  • One-foot snowplow stop

Beta ISI Ice Skating Test

Skating backward and being able to do back crossovers are indications that a new ice skater is almost ready to learn more advanced basic skating skills.  T-Stops are difficult to do correctly and may require a lot of practice.

For this test, skaters should be able to complete the following:

  • Backward stroking 
  • Backward crossovers in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions 
  • Right and left T-stops

Gamma ISI Ice Skating Test

Being able to gracefully turn around from forward to backward on one foot and doing Mohawk turns means a new figure skater is almost ready to begin to learn to jump and spin.  Once a new ice skater passes the Gamma ISI Ice Skating Test, he or she can begin to learn fun and challenging figure skating moves.

These are the moves a skater needs to pass this test:

  • Right and left forward outside three turns
  • Right and left forward inside open Mohawk combinations
  • Hockey stops

Delta ISI Ice Skating Test

Once a figure skater passes the Delta test, he or she is ready to begin the ISI Freestyle tests, or/and go on to ice dance, pair, couple, and other advanced ISI  skating tests.  

The consecutive edges and inside three turns required in the Delta test are usually very challenging, but now it's time for more fun moves like the bunny hop, shoot-the-duck, and lunges. The exit on one foot is really difficult to do but means a skater has mastered the basics and is ready to move on.

Delta-level skaters should be able to do these maneuvers:

  • Right and left forward inside three turns
  • Forward outside and inside edges (where consecutive half circles are skated along a long axis)
  • Shoot-the- duck or  lunge (exiting on one foot)
  • Bunny hop