Science high school entrance test reviewers: What we used
Reviewers can be an essential part of science high school entrance exam preparation. They give prospective test takers an idea of the coverage and difficulty level of the actual test, as well as help students refresh key concepts and develop test-taking strategies. Not all reviewers are created equal, though, and here I give my impressions of the review books that Motito used to prepare for the science high school admissions tests.
The Philippine Science High School Reviewers
The PSHS has published three volumes of its reviewer for the National Competitive Examination (starts at Vol.2; there appears to be no Vol. 1). You can’t go wrong with reviewers written by the very school system that gives the exam. The PSHS includes practice questions and answers for each of the four sections of the NCE: Science, Math, Language, and Abstract Reasoning. According to Motito, the questions in the reviewer closely matched those on the actual NCE in terms of content and level of difficulty. My only beef with the PSHS reviewers is its lack of concept review and answer explanations. You can download sample test questions from the official PSHS site.
The official PSHS reviewers are available at bookstores of all PSHS campuses and costs about 200-250 pesos each (I really don’t remember, so please don’t hold me to it). Only two volumes were available from PSHS Main at the time, but evidently they sufficed for my son’s preparation.
MSA Science High School Reviewers
A trusted name in test preparation and tutorial services, the MSA Institute publishes three books devoted to science high school entrance exam prep. There’s the two-volume MSA Qualifying Test Preparation for Philippine Science High Schools (Volume 1. is the red book and Volume 2 the yellow book). Additionally there’s a bigger reviewer that promises 1000 questions and answers. Like the official PSHS reviewer, the MSA test prep books lack a review of key concepts/formulas, but answers and solutions are explained satisfactorily.
Questions on MSA science high school reviewers tend to be much harder than the ones the student may encounter on the actual tests. Don’t let your child be discouraged by the difficult questions; they’re generally based on advanced topics that are not taught in many schools. I recommend studying the advanced concepts only after the student has had a solid grasp of his lessons.
MSA science high school reviewers are available in most National Bookstore branches. The red and yellow MSA science high school reviewers cost P268 apiece, while the Science High School Entrance Tests Reviewer with 1000 questions is priced at P225. Alternatively, you can buy them on the MSA Publishing House’s online store.
Newton Study Center reviewers
Another well-known player in review and tutorial services, Newton Study Center publishes two volumes of its science high school reviewer. Newton’s reviewers has one major advantage over the official PSHS and MSA reviewers: they provide a review of key concepts and mathematical formulas in addition to the practice questions and answers. That means all the pertinent information the student might need comes in an organized package. Volume 1 covers Basic Math, English, and Abstract, while Volume 2 focuses on Math (Algebra & Geometry), and Science. Newton reviewers are the most expensive of the three, selling for P450 each, but they’re really worth every peso.
You can find Newton science high school reviewers in select National Bookstore branches. Pro tip: Check out the branches that are close to the University Belt, like the NBS stores along Recto and on Rizal Avenue, as well as NBS at SM City Manila. Otherwise, you can purchase directly from Newton at a center near you. Be sure to call ahead to know what’s available.
So, which books are best for science high school aspirants? If money were no object, I’d say go for all the reviewers mentioned in this post. Otherwise, I’d recommend the official PSHS and the Newton reviewers at a minimum, and the MSA reviewer with the 1000 questions for additional practice. Avoid impulse buying reviewers if you doubt that your child will have the time to go through them. Remember that the best reviewer is the one that the student actually uses.