SHSAT: Power Practice, Published By Learning Express Review

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The newest SHSAT practice book on the market is SHSAT: Power Practice, published by Learning Express. There are enough good things about this SHSAT prep book to make it genuinely useful for some students, but it also has some significant flaws to be aware of.

On the positive side, the book contains 6 full length practice tests, which is great for students who want or need a considerable amount of prep work before they take the real test. Also, unlike some other SHSAT practice books, this one isn’t padded with large amounts of filler. As a result, it’s slim and convenient to carry. More importantly, the reading comprehension passages are generally well-written. A few of them are downright interesting, which is a pleasant departure from most test prep materials. Likewise, the scrambled paragraphs are generally well-written (although they tend to be a little bit on the easy side).

Unfortunately, the book has some real negatives as well. I get the impression that it was produced on a very tight schedule and insufficient time was devoted to properly editing it. Even a relatively quick inspection of revealed a number of errors. Some are minor typos- repeating the exact same answer choice twice in one question or having two answer choices in a question marked as “d”. Other mistakes are more serious. For example, problem #54 in the first practice test is missing a set of parenthesis which causes the mathematically correct answer to be different from the answer which the authors intended. (In other words, the authors made a mistake in their order of operations.)

In addition to errors which fall into the category of typo or mistake, there are some deeper problems as well, which seem to indicate that the authors of this book did not have a thorough knowledge of the SHSAT. For example, on the actual SHSAT, there are made-up language questions. These questions ask students to use logical reasoning to determine the meaning of nonsense words by making use of “translations”. These questions are unusual, and it is important for students to practice solving them. However, the tests in this book do not have any made-up language questions.

Compared to the official practice tests, the tests in this book are a little bit on the easy side. This is particularly noticeable on the verbal portion of the test. The formal logic problems are very easy while the scrambled paragraphs and reading comprehension passages are moderately easy. The math section is closer to the appropriate level of difficulty, although the more challenging problems skew towards relatively advanced topics (that many students won’t see until the second half of 8th grade) rather than problems that are difficult because they require mathematical insight. This is somewhat different from the real test, although it isn’t a tremendously dramatic difference.

I would recommend this book to students who are planning to do a great deal of studying for the SHSAT. It’s not ideal practice, but it is good enough to be useful. Certainly, it’s better than the materials offered by Prep Mate or by Kaplan. However, I would recommend the official practice tests (published by the NYC Department of Education), the New York Academics practice tests (available at, and the Barron’s SHSAT book above this new book by Learning Express.

Source by Jessie Mathisen

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