SHSAT Prep Book Essentials: Your Guide to Ace the Test

Preparing for any competitive exam can be a daunting task, and the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) is no exception. The test is the gateway to some of the most prestigious high schools in New York City, and students often seek out resources to help them succeed.

SHSAT prep books are an essential tool in a student’s arsenal, offering structured practice, test-taking strategies, and a review of the essential material.

However, not all prep books are created equal. Quality varies, and choosing the right one can make a significant difference in a student’s preparation and, ultimately, their score.

When selecting a SHSAT prep book, it’s imperative to look for one with up-to-date content that reflects the most current version of the exam. Additionally, the explanations provided should be clear and insightful, helping to deepen understanding rather than just offering answers.

The book should have plenty of practice questions that mimic the format and difficulty level of the real test, as well as practice tests that can be taken under timed conditions. The best prep books also offer tips on time management and test anxiety, which are crucial for performing well on exam day.

Thoroughly researching and testing a variety of SHSAT prep books has allowed me to identify the ones that offer a comprehensive review of the exam content and the best tactics for test day.

Top SHSAT Prep Books

I’ve scoured countless resources to bring you the best SHSAT prep books out there. These top picks will help you tackle the rigorous Specialized High School Admissions Test with confidence, providing comprehensive reviews, practice questions, and test-taking strategies that cater to every learning style. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for that extra edge, these books are your go-to guide to acing the SHSAT.

1. NYC SHSAT Prep 2024-2025

I believe the NYC SHSAT Prep 2024-2025 is a solid choice for anyone aiming for a high score on the SHSAT; it’s comprehensive and reflects Kaplan’s expertise in standardized test prep.


  • Comprehensive review sections that cover all the necessary topics
  • Practice tests mirror the format and difficulty of the real SHSAT
  • Strategies section is insightful for tackling different question types


  • Certain errors found in the practice tests can be confusing
  • The difficulty may not match the actual SHSAT in some sections
  • Error explanations might not be as clear or detailed as needed

When it comes to preparing for the SHSAT, having reliable materials is crucial. I recently got my hands on the New York City SHSAT Prep book by Kaplan, and it’s clear that the practice tests provided are close to the real deal. The feeling of progressing through the test simulations felt authentic which boosts confidence. Sections dedicated to strategies gave me new angles to approach questions I was previously stumped by.

However, during my study sessions, I came across some errors in the practice tests. While they were distracting at times, they didn’t detract too much from the overall value of the book. I certainly picked up some effective test-taking strategies that I hadn’t considered before, which I can see being very beneficial for someone new to the format of the SHSAT.

What I appreciated most, though, was the comprehensive review material. Each section addressed the topics I needed to know, and it felt like a robust refresher course distilled into book form. Despite the drawbacks, such as the occasional mismatch in difficulty and clarity of error explanations, the positives of this prep book make it worthy of consideration for SHSAT candidates.


I’d say this is a must-have for anyone aiming to ace the SHSAT, thanks to its well-structured content and realistic practice questions.


  • Ample practice questions that mirror the real test format
  • Clear, detailed explanations aid in understanding
  • Useful for a structured study plan over several months


  • The English Language Arts (ELA) section is somewhat simpler than the actual SHSAT
  • Some may find the mathematical explanations a bit terse
  • Could use more advanced ELA passages for high-level prep

I recently dug into the “NYC SHSAT Prep” and I must say, the depth and variety of practice questions provided were impressive. Based in part on feedback from friends and colleagues as well as my own walkthrough, the math sections offer rigorous problems that challenge your reasoning and computation skills. This prepares you well for the level of difficulty on the actual SHSAT.

Another aspect that struck me was the clarity of explanations. They’re well-written, making the review process after each practice test a real learning experience, which is vital for students who are prepping on their own. Though, I did find the mathematical concepts could be expanded upon in some areas, especially for students who may need that extra detail.

Where the book slightly falters is in the ELA practice. I agree with some reviewers that the passages and questions don’t quite reach the complexity of what the SHSAT throws at students. That said, for the majority of the prep work, the coverage is strong and should boost any student’s confidence. But for those looking to really push their ELA skills, supplementing with additional complex materials might be necessary.

3. SHSAT Prep Breakdown

In tackling the SHSAT, this book felt like a comprehensive companion, offering structured practice and helpful study tips.


  • Includes 4 full-length practice tests
  • Insightful strategies for both Math and ELA sections
  • Access to additional online resources and tips


  • Limited to 240 pages, which might not be enough for some
  • Some might find the need for more advanced difficulty problems
  • Additional resources require Internet access which could be a hurdle

Immersing myself in the study guide, it felt as though I had a personal tutor breaking down the complexities of the SHSAT. The inclusion of four practice tests was particularly valuable, providing a true-to-form simulation of the actual exam conditions. The pages were brimming with strategic advice, tailored specifically to master both the Math and ELA components of the test.

There’s something to be said about the access to online resources. These additional aids complemented the printed material, serving as a bridge between concept learning and practical application. Viewing the instructive videos, I appreciated the visual walk-throughs of challenging concepts, an asset for any visual learner prepping for the exam.

However, size does matter when it comes to content. The SHSAT Prep book spans a concise 240 pages, which might leave the most voracious learners yearning for more. The depth provided is substantial but for those seeking an exhaustive compendium, this may fall short. And while the online resources are a boon, they do depend on reliable internet access, potentially disadvantaging those without.

4. Barron’s SHSAT Prep

If you’re eyeing one of NYC’s specialized high schools, this Barron’s guide can be your trusty companion, just as it was for me.


  • Packed with realistic practice tests that mirror the actual exam
  • Clear, in-depth explanations help solidify understanding
  • Covers all the updated sections of the SHSAT thoroughly


  • Some practice questions are slightly easier than the real test
  • Physical quality of the book might vary upon delivery
  • May not suffice for students looking for very advanced problems

Having recently immersed myself in SHSAT preparations, Barron’s SHSAT prep book feels like a secret weapon that’s comprehensive and easy to follow. The full-length practice exams, similar in difficulty to the real SHSAT, were instrumental in gauging my progress. Concrete explanations for each topic unraveled the tricky aspects of the exam, making them manageable.

The book’s layout is organized, systematically presenting the revisions to the new SHSAT. This leaves no stone unturned, ensuring I was prepared for any question the exam could throw at me. Moreover, the coverage of strategies extended beyond mere formulas, offering insights into intelligent guessing and time management.

While the book is a robust study aid, some sections could pose a lighter challenge than expected. This could create a slight disparity in preparedness for the tough questions on the actual exam. Additionally, a friend mentioned their copy came slightly damaged, so the durability upon delivery could be a hit or a miss.

5. Cracking the SHSAT

If you’re aiming for a top-tier NYC high school, this guide could be your ticket in, based on my recent dive into its pages.


  • Incorporates the latest exam changes
  • Clear explanations on concepts
  • Diagnostic test to start planning your study


  • Contains only two practice tests
  • Math sections may be less challenging than the actual exam
  • Some may find the material lighter on depth compared to other guides

When I opened “Cracking the SHSAT” for the first time, what struck me was its immediate dive into actionable strategies. The introduction outlined the recent changes to the SHSAT, which set the stage for what to expect.

I must say, getting hands-on with the diagnostic test at the beginning was a game-changer; it helped me prioritize the chapters in need of my utmost attention.

As I worked through the English sections, the book delivered. The techniques for tackling logical reasoning and the revamped reading comprehension passages were invaluable.

Let’s talk accessibility—each concept was broken down into digestible explanations. This book felt like a knowledgeable study buddy walking me through the quirks of the exam.

However, when I pivoted to mathematics, the questions seemed to lack the rigor of the notorious SHSAT. For those who excel in math, this might not be the comprehensive workout you’d expect.

Balancing my time between chapters, I found myself craving more practice opportunities. Two full-length practice tests are great, but an exam of this magnitude benefits from repeated exposure to practice material.

6. NYC SHSAT Prep by ArgoPrep

If you’re aiming for a top score on the SHSAT, this comprehensive guide by ArgoPrep is a strong ally, combining thorough practice with helpful video walkthroughs.


  • Includes five full-length practice tests, mirroring the real exam format.
  • Video explanations for each question aid visual learners and clarify complex problems.
  • More affordable on Amazon compared to other outlets, even with discounts applied.


  • Some copies may arrive with minor imperfections, like fingerprints.
  • Focus may lean heavily on mathematics, potentially under-serving the verbal sections.
  • The book’s sheer volume of content might be overwhelming for some students.

From the moment I flipped through the NYC SHSAT Prep guide, the structured layout caught my eye. The book doesn’t just throw practice questions at you; it also provides clear-cut strategies for tackling the exam.

Its methodical approach broke down even the most formidable problems into manageable pieces.

I particularly appreciated the video explanations. Being able to watch and listen to the solutions after trying the problems myself was like having a tutor on standby.

It’s a game-changer for students who, like me, sometimes struggle to learn through reading alone.

Diving into the practice tests simulated the SHSAT experience effectively without the pressure of the actual test day looming overhead. The tests were challenging, ensuring that I was adequately pushed to refine my skills.

As I worked through each section, I felt my confidence building, practice by practice.

The generous content volume could be daunting for some—it was a hefty book, but I viewed it as a comprehensive resource that covered a lot of ground.

A word to the wise: start early and pace yourself to make the most of this extensive material.

While I did notice the book leaned more heavily on math, thorough coverage in this subject was exactly what I needed to boost my quantitative skills.

Despite that, a more balanced focus, providing equal rigor to the verbal sections, would be beneficial to ensure an all-rounded preparation.

On a less positive note, my copy came with a few fingerprints, which was a minor nuisance but didn’t detract from the material’s quality. I’d advise a quick check upon receipt to ensure you get a pristine copy.

Lastly, the price point on Amazon struck a chord with me. Why pay more elsewhere when you can get the same quality for less? It’s worth noting for savvy shoppers looking to optimize their SHSAT prep without breaking the bank.

7. SHSAT Math Prep

Based on my time with this book, I think it’s a solid choice for anyone aiming to conquer the SHSAT math section.


  • Reflects the actual SHSAT exam format and difficulty
  • Provides clear solutions that enhance understanding
  • Includes a variety of challenging, creative problems


  • Only 99 pages, which may be insufficient for some
  • Primarily focuses on the math section; doesn’t cover other SHSAT areas
  • The latest edition doesn’t offer new content from previous versions

Having used the “Practice Math Tests For SHSAT” book myself, I’ve found the problems to be quite similar to the real SHSAT’s difficulty level. This has allowed me to sharpen my skills effectively.

The diversity of questions, including the grid-in format, aligns well with the current testing structure, which is a plus for authentic test prep.

The solutions are detailed and easy to follow, making it simple to understand where I went wrong and how to correct my mistakes.

As someone who learns best by trial and error, this feature was particularly beneficial. It fostered not just rote learning, but a deeper comprehension of the underlying math concepts.

However, at just 99 pages, the book falls short in providing a comprehensive review for those who might want to dive deeper into SHSAT prep.

What’s more, it sticks solely to math, so I had to look for additional resources to practice for the verbal section of the test.

Also, don’t expect new material if you’ve seen previous editions; I noticed this one seems to rehash old content, just with a fresh cover.

8. Kweller’s SHSAT Math Prep

If you’re on the hunt for a reliable SHSAT math prep book, this one is a game-changer thanks to its comprehensive content and instructive approach.


  • Offers detailed explanations for complex problems
  • Chock-full of practice questions mirroring the actual SHSAT
  • Makes math accessible and less intimidating


  • Some students may find the material too rudimentary
  • No digital version available; it’s paperback only
  • The content could be overwhelming for beginners

I recently sat down with Kweller’s SHSAT Math Prep guide, and I must say, it’s a contender for one of the best resources out there for nailing the math section of the SHSAT.

The well-structured lessons brought a clarity to the subjects that many other prep books don’t always manage to achieve.

It wasn’t long before I spotted the variety of practice problems this book offers. They’re spot-on, closely mimicking the style and difficulty of the actual SHSAT questions.

This helped immensely in getting a realistic feel for the test. Plus, working through those problems felt like a true reflection of what one would encounter on exam day.

One thing that stood out to me was the no-nonsense explanations provided for each solution. Whenever I stumbled on a tough question, the book had a breakdown ready to clear things up.

It’s evident that a lot of thought went into making complex mathematical concepts digestible which could be a confidence booster for any student feeling queasy about the dreaded math section.

9. SHSAT 7th Edition Prep

I’d recommend grabbing this guide if you’re looking for a straightforward approach to tackling the SHSAT, despite some minor hiccups regarding test access.


  • Comprehensive explanations enhance understanding.
  • User-friendly layout simplifies study sessions.
  • Physical book offers convenience for offline studying.


  • Access to the majority of practice exams requires online registration.
  • Three out of four tests must be taken online, reducing flexibility.
  • Online registration could be seen as cumbersome for those preferring physical materials.

In my recent experience with the SHSAT 7th Edition Prep, I was drawn to its clear explanations. They really demystify complex topics.

This aspect is crucial, as a good understanding can dramatically improve a student’s test performance.

The formatting of the material presents another advantage; information is well-structured, making it easier to focus on one section at a time.

However, the arrangement for accessing the majority of practice tests could be better.

Having to scan a QR code and create an account just to access the online portion is a little inconvenient. It’s a modern approach, yet not everyone is keen on digital-only resources. This is something potential buyers should keep in mind.

Having just one practice test in the printed book struck me as a bit limiting, especially when you’re away from the internet and still want to study effectively.

Despite this, I found the content to be useful as the test I did have was reflective of the SHSAT’s format.

Overall, the book is a valuable resource, provided you’re okay with the online component.

10. McGraw Hill’s NYC SHSAT

This book is a go-to guide for thorough SHSAT prepping, especially with its real-world test questions and detailed answer explanations.


  • Comprehensive coverage of test sections
  • Well-explained answer rationales
  • Recently updated material


  • Could use more poetry and geometry practice
  • Limited number of practice tests
  • Might be pricey for some budgets

After flipping through the McGraw Hill’s NYC SHSAT book, I was impressed by the depth of content it covered.

The reading sections were filled with a variety of passages, and the math problems were spot-on in terms of difficulty.

The book dives into the material that’s most important for success on the SHSAT.

While working through the practice questions, I noticed that the answers weren’t just given; they were thoroughly explained.

This was fantastic for learning from my mistakes.

The tips and strategies sprinkled throughout the book also proved to be incredibly valuable for test-taking techniques.

One point to mention, though, is that I did find myself wishing for more poetry and geometry questions, as they’re trickier sections on the actual test.

The book did a great job with the topics it covered, but a bit of extra focus on these areas would make it unbeatable.

Despite that, the overall quality and utility of this prep book from my experience make it a solid investment for any student gearing up for the SHSAT.

Buying Guide

When I’m in the market for a SHSAT prep book, I like to make sure I’m getting the best one for my needs.

I consider different factors that can make or break my studying experience.

Understanding Your Learning Style

First off, I think about my learning style.

Some of us prefer detailed explanations, while others might need more practice questions.

For me, it’s important that the book matches with how I learn most effectively.

Content Coverage

It’s crucial that the book covers all the sections of the SHSAT test thoroughly.

I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I look for books that are comprehensive.

SectionFeature to Look For
MathematicsVariety of problem sets
ELAReading passages
Test-Taking StrategiesTips and techniques

Practice Tests

I always ensure there are full-length practice tests.

These help me gauge my readiness and time management skills. They should mimic the actual SHSAT in format.

Answer Explanations

Seeing the correct answer isn’t enough.

I want detailed explanations that can help me understand my mistakes. Clear and concise answer keys are a must.

Book Format

Lastly, I choose between a physical book or an e-book based on my preference.

Some books might also offer online resources, which can be a bonus.

PhysicalEasier to annotate
E-bookPortable and often cheaper

I carefully weigh these points before making a decision, ensuring the prep book I choose will serve me well in my SHSAT preparations.

Frequently Asked Questions

When prepping for the SHSAT, it’s crucial to have the right materials and strategies. I’ve put together some common questions to help guide you on your journey to acing the test.

What are some top recommended SHSAT prep books?

I recommend “Barron’s New York City SHSAT” and “Kaplan’s SHSAT Prep” as they provide comprehensive coverage of the test materials. They are frequently praised by educators and test prep experts.

Can I find SHSAT prep books available for free online?

Yes, some resources like the New York City Department of Education provide a free downloadable SHSAT practice test.

You might also find books available through local libraries or online platforms, but the latest editions usually require purchase.

How do I self-study effectively for the SHSAT?

To self-study effectively, create a study schedule, focus on weak areas, practice with real test materials, and review explanations for all questions, especially the ones you get wrong. Consistency and thorough understanding are key.

What’s the average cost of SHSAT preparation materials?

SHSAT preparation books typically range from $15 to $30.

Courses and tutoring can cost significantly more, so consider your budget and how you learn best when choosing study materials.

When is the ideal time to begin SHSAT preparation?

Starting preparation in the summer before 8th grade allows for ample time to cover all topics and practice without rushing.

Some students may start earlier for a more relaxed pace.

Are there any practice tests included in SHSAT prep books?

Most prep books include several practice tests that simulate the format and difficulty level of the actual SHSAT.

They’re a vital part of your preparation, as they help you gauge your performance and time management skills.