What can the USISTD Medals Program do for your studio?
Achieve your Dancing Goals Through the USISTD Medals System
- Have more fun, learn faster, and become a better dancer.
Preparing for a Medal Test is fun, and speeds your progress. You’ll look forward to each and every lesson!
- Create and accomplish clear goals.
Your lessons will take a laser sharp focus. This intensive, “Berlitz” style of learning is the best way to make real progress towards quality dancing and the immovable test date.
- Polish your presentation.
The criteria used to score a Medal Test is similar to that used to judge a dance competition, but with an eye towards proper technique more than style and flash.
- Get valuable feedback from our elite Examiners.
Our Examiners are among the most highly credentialed dance professionals in the world. Their insights into your personal dance strengths and weaknesses will be invaluable when charting the course of your future lessons.
- Measure your progress against the universal standard of the USISTD.
The USISTD maintains the highest of standards for both amateurs and professionals and is respected worldwide. The Medal Test process assures that you are being taught in accordance with these objective criteria.
Medal Tests are milestones which mark the completion of one level, and open the door to the next.
Medal Levels and What Successful Candidates Receive
2 or 3 Dance Achievement (2 or 3 dances respectively)
Styles may be mixed in this category only
A minimum of 2 Basic figures per dance
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and a DA medal
Intermediate Bronze (Pre-Bronze) (2 dances)
The first half of the syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an Intermediate Bronze medal
Bronze (2 dances)
The full Bronze syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and a Bronze medal
Intermediate Silver (3 dances)
The full Silver syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and a Silver medal
Silver (3 dances)
The first half of the Silver syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an Intermediate Silver medal
Intermediate Gold (4 dances)
The first half of the Gold syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an Intermediate Gold medal
Gold (4 dances)
The full Gold syllabus
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and a Gold medal
Gold Star I and Gold Star II (4 dances in Smooth or Ballroom, 5 in Rhythm or Latin)
Open with some syllabus requirements
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an engraved, small, Lucite star
Gold Star III
Open with some syllabus requirements
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an engraved, large, Lucite star
One Dance Medal Test (1 dance)
Any style at Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and a Bronze, Silver, or Gold one-dance medal
One Dance Evaluation (1 dance)
Any style at the DA, Pre Bronze, Silver I, Gold I, Gold Star, or any other level – please specify
Receive an evaluation and a certificate
Theater Arts and Formation
Receive an evaluation and a certificate
Professional Medal Tests (4 dances in Smooth or Ballroom, 5 in Rhythm or Latin)
Bronze (small rectangle), Silver (small rectangle), Gold (large rectangle), or Gold Star
Receive an evaluation, a certificate, and an engraved, Lucite rectangle or star depending upon the level
Professionals may also do one dance evaluations, receiving an evaluation and a certificate.
Watch the Medals System YouTube video to see how easy it is:
What is a Medal Test? How Does it Work?
Poster announcing your event!
Medals Signup Sheet
Medal Test F.A.Q’s
What is a Medal Test?
The Medal Test is an opportunity to have your dancing progress evaluated and critiqued by an independent source other than your teacher. This process assures that high quality standards are maintained among USISTD affiliate dance studios, and that you are being taught in accordance with a world-wide standard of dancing.
How Does it Work?
You and your teacher will set goals for the upcoming Medal Test Event, choosing those
dances and styles appropriate for your level. On the day of the test, you will dance with
your teacher or amateur partner, while one of our highly qualifed Examiners observes,
evaluates, and makes written comments to help guide your future lessons. You may want to take a short coaching session with the Examiner after your test. These “minicoachings” maximize the benefits of the testing experience. Successful candidates will receive a certifcate and award. Medal Testing provides a graduated series of goals similar to examinations given to academic students. It is a milestone in the student’s learning process which marks the completion of one level, opening the door to the next dance challenge.
Why Should I take a Medal Test?
The Medal Test is an opportunity to have your dancing progress evaluated and critiqued by an independent source other than your teacher or other studio representative. This process assures that high quality standards are maintained among independent dance studios and that you are being taught in accordance with a world-wide standard of dancing.
Working towards a medal test is fun and gives your lessons a sharp focus, as you learn details about dancing that you might otherwise overlook. The medal test provides a tangible goal in time and will motivate both the teacher and the student. It is a milestone in the student’s learning process which marks the completion of one level, opening the door to the next dance challenge. Working towards a medal test affords many of the same benefits enjoyed by competing amateur dancers, but without the stress of competition and public display. Students who take medal tests learn faster and dance better than those who don’t. Teachers who prepare students for medal tests teach more thoroughly and have the satisfaction of producing a better dancer.
How will I prepare for my Medal Test?
Your teacher will prepare you for your test and WILL NOT recommend the test for you unless you are fully prepared! Depending upon your studio’s policies, you may be able to prepare in a special group class which is geared towards the USISTD Medal Tests, or you can prepare during your regular private lessons. Your teacher will teach you with attention to details which make dancing more comfortable, more beautiful, more correct.
Can’t my teacher just teach me as if I’ll take a medal Test, without my actually doing it?
While this idea sounds great, it seldom works out. Once a test goal is set, your lessons will take a laser sharp focus on your selected dances. This intensive, “Berlitz” style of learning is the best way to make real progress towards quality dancing and the immovable test date. When we know, in the back of our minds, that the test date isn’t real, we are easily side-tracked, opting for the easy, more superficial style of learning.
How many and which dances should I test in?
Students may test in all the dances, select only a few, or even just one. The test can be in American or International styles, or in “alternate rhythm” dances, Salsa, Hustle, WCS, Argentine Tango and Lindy Hop. A “Medal Test” generally consists of two or three dances of the same style and level, but you may also test in only one dance. You may mix styles in the Dance Achievement 2 (two dances) or 3 (three dances) only. At higher levels (gold and gold star) more dances are required for a full medal.
If you are a beginner dancer, or just beginning a new style, you can start with one of the Dance Achievement Awards, which require only two or three figures in each dance. The intermediate level awards require only the first half of the syllabus figures for that dance and level. The full medal tests, bronze, silver, gold, and gold star, require patterns and technique representative of the full standard. Only the full medal awards qualify the student to test at the next level. Candidates must pass the tests in strict sequence- Bronze upwards through Gold.
Can I take my test as a leader if I am a woman? As a follower if I am a man?
Yes you can! There are lots of good reasons to learn the opposite part in dancing, but most of all it makes you a better partner. A woman who leads, for example, has more sensitivity to leads when she follows. By learning to lead she better understands what is required of her to make the partnership work. In the same way, a man who learns to follow improves his ability to lead, using subtle body actions rather than brute force. When a man tests as a follower it is called MAL (man as lady); when a woman tests as a leader it is called LAM (lady as man).”
Will people watch me take my test?
You may make this as public or private an event as you like. Some people prefer to have only their teacher, the Examiner, and the DJ present; others want to invite friends and family. Individual studios often have their own policies regarding public vs private tests, so be sure to check with your teacher or studio manager.
What should I wear for the Medal Test?
The medal test is an important event and candidates should dress to show respect for the process and for the Examiner. Women should wear skirts or dresses, being careful not to hide their feet and legs. Dressy pants are now acceptable also. Men should wear slacks, a jacket, and a tie. A vest or sweater vest can be worn in lieu of a jacket. Dance shoes should be worn. Hair and good grooming are a must.
What criteria will I be evaluated on?
The criteria used to score a Medal Test is similar to that used to judge a dance competition, but with an eye towards proper technique more than towards style and flash. Some objective areas which the examiner will consider include the following:
- Dance Position
- Lead or Follow
- Musicality and Timing
- Knowledge and use of Syllabus Figures
- Techniques specific to each dance, such as Cuban Motion or Rise & Fall
What is a 15 Minute Coaching and should I do it?
The 15 minute coaching session following the Medal Test has earned high praise from the students and teachers alike. While the students have always been enthusiastic about testing, we often heard the comment that 2 ½ minutes wasn’t sufficient time for the examiner to make substantive comments on the student’s dancing. There was time for the footwork correction or the “eyes up” comment; but the really useful insights had by our Examiners were sometimes lost due to time constraints.
The 15 minute coaching was the perfect remedy to this problem. The students received immediate feedback on their dancing, and a thorough explanation of the written comments. The Examiner was able to elaborate, answer specific questions and establish a report, which made the experience much more fun and informative. The 15 minutes seemed just enough time to learn some important things, while keeping the cost affordable for the student. Virtually every student availed themselves of this opportunity, and all agreed it added value to the medal test event.
When will I get my results and certificate?
Your scores and comment sheet will be given to you by your teacher on your next lesson. Your teacher will explain your scores and follow up on the comments made by the Examiner. The Examiner will have made suggestions about ways to improve your dancing. USISTD Examiners are highly trained and very experienced. Their keen eyes provide insights that will be helpful to your teacher when planning your lessons.
Within about 10 days you will receive your beautiful certificate of achievement. If you have taken a medal test at a recognized standard you will receive your medal at the same time. These are sent by our examinations director directly to your studio.
Your studio may post a Medal Test Achievement Board in your studio. This is a fun way to watch your progress and that of your fellow students, as the stars increase after each medal event.
What is “Rhythm Dancing” and do I need to do it?
“Rhythm dancing,” not to be confused with the name for American style Latin dancing, is required only for those testing in International Standard. Candidates are required to show their ability to dance to 4/4 music on a crowded dance floor. Many of the figures resemble those described in Quickstep, but no attempt should be made to adhere to strict alignments. On a crowded, social floor, figures often have to be danced with minimal movement and progression. Figures should be practiced in the form of a square, making no progress in the room. The inclusion of Rhythm Dancing in a medal test insures that a candidate understands the difference between competitive and social dancing, and can well represent the USISTD on a social dance floor.