I’m not sure how much of an audience there is for this review, but I had to go through the pain of reading the bloody things and taking the test, so I’m going to review them. I had to take the middle school content knowledge test. Despite my confidence, a tiny portion of me was still terrified that I’d fail, so I checked out the ‘official’ ETS study guides for the Praxis series.
The Middle School Tests (MST) book and Middle School Content Knowledge (MSCK) books follow the same format. They are pretty useless, as they are literally study guides. The chapters are actually just outlines of the content and knowledge covered in the tests. This tells you what you need to know, but doesn’t actually explain or expound upon any of the concepts. So, for instance, if you don’t know what the characteristics of the Romantic period of literature are, then you better Google it. If you’re looking for something to pick up that’s a crash course in middle school math or science, then this book won’t help much at all.
The MSCK book does include a full practice test along with explanations to all of the answers. It doesn’t tell you how to change your raw score into the scaled score, though. The MST book has a ‘test’ for each subject area, along with explanations to the answers. However, a fair portion of the questions – especially in the math section – are the same as in the MSCK book. Some of the sections, like the English portion, have more and tougher questions than in the MSCK book. Overall, I preferred the MSCK book because it was more streamlined to the particular test that I was taking, but if you’re looking for extra practice questions, the MST offers some extra practice.
The MSCK Practice Test was pretty much exactly as described – it’s a practice test. It does explain the grading process and tells you how to scale your scores, but it does not explain the answers to the questions. It is good practice if you’re looking to get a feel for how you will do on the test, but isn’t as useful a study tool if you can’t figure out why you got the questions wrong on your own.
I just took the Praxis MSCK test and that ETS books were absolutely the best practice tests out there. They are miles better than some of the other practice tests, like the ones on Learning Express Libraries. I encountered many more errors in the questions on the LEL tests and the subjects covered were much more convoluted than necessary. ETS runs the tests, so it makes sense that their books were spot on. I can’t say I was terribly impressed with the study materials, even finding a few serious typos on the questions in the MSCK book. However, it gives you a good indication of how you will do, and having taken the actual test, I feel it is a fair representation of the test.
I had the hard copy of the MST and ebooks of the Practice Test and MSCK study guide. A note on the ebooks: They are actually executable files that launch every time you use it, so as far as I can tell, it isn’t a file that can be dragged and dropped onto a Kindle or other e-reader. This is definitely something to keep in mind when purchasing – if you’re comfortable reading it on the computer or printing it out, then you’re good to go. If not, then you may want to look into the hard copy or other options.