Chapter 4c - FAQ for TPM and SSCC

Please scroll to the bottom for errata.

Test Prep Math and Shape Size Color Count FAQ 

I recently decided that I'll post questions about these books.  At some point, I have to dig up older questions, but for now, I'll start this page with a few questions. If there's an asterisk next to the Q, it's me asking the question just to answer it.  Also, at the end, I have an Errata section now because a reader found a typo in one of the books.

Q:  Hi, I have a question about lesson 148 in Pre-k math, second diagram. It goes from one figure to six, but +5 isn't an option. Is this a typo? Also, when there is no halving, doubling, etc. (which is often the case), should we just ignore the second pick list?
A:  This is not a typo.  The answer is 5, and it's not in the pick list.   I do this a few times in the verbal questions, more in TPM Level 2, and then all heck breaks loose in TPM Level 3.  With each problem, the quantity could move, and it could be a doubling/halving operation at the same time, or not.

There are a few devices on the COGAT that walk the child right into an answer that is not in the choice list.   The common example is a shape that doubles, but it also does something else that is more obvious like gets wider, and the more obvious choice is not one of the answers.  The underlying academic skills are to spend more time pondering the question, check the answer, and try again. SSCC is learning do math visually first, and secondly to hammer these skills into a child in preparation for the big things to come down the road.  Ideally, a child would never trust a question or his answer again without checking at least once.

Q*:  The first question requires the child to circle 2 answers.  What's up with that?
A:  That is my shot across your bow that this is not a normal workbook.  My younger son laughs when he sees that, and my older son gets mad.

Q*:  Does this workbook work with a 5 year old?
A:  As a matter of fact, it works magic.  The problem is that you can zoom through the workbook in a short period of time with a 5 year old, but my target is a child that has to struggle to learn new things, and that's why 4 is a better age in my opinion.

Q:  Why is the Test Prep Math series so verbose?
A:  The verbosity of Test Prep Math contains all of the logic, inference, thinking, etc that I need a child to learn so we can move to more advanced math and higher test scores.  Math between grades 2 and 4 is really lousy at teaching higher order thinking skills, including those that are math related, but these skills are the target of this series.  I challenge anyone to produce a thinker using math facts and long division.  It's like the opposite of thinking.  The fact that reading comprehension scores should increase as a direct result of Test Prep Math is an accidental bonus.

Q: I read Test Prep  Math.   Are you insane?
A:  Is it insane to get a child from slightly above average test scores to 99%?  Then I am insane.   I used to ask my kids after they finally got a question right what in the question is at all confusing or challenging.   Of course, none of it after you spent 30 minutes trying to untangle the question to figure out what it's asking.  At that point, it's easy, except for questions involving the time machine or super bonus questions that don't have an answer or when you have to invent a story to answer the question.

Q:  Why were there mistakes in the solutions on Test Prep Math in the first printings?
A:  These problems are mind numbing.  Some of them took me 4 or 5 tries to get correct.   The intent of the book is to produce thinking and the proper approach to mistakes.  This is accomplished, quite well I'm finding out, by questions that require thinking and result in mistakes.  In retrospect, I shouldn't have given clear instructions to that affect to my testers and their kids or we would have caught more errors before the first printing.  One of the first pages in the top right lists errata.


  1. Thank you for all your good info. My son is going into 5th grade this Fall (2018). His current math is grade 6 level. He will be taking the ITBS this Nov. for the TAG program. What prep material/grade level would you recommend? If an ITBS prep book, grade 5 or grade 6 edition? Thank you so much!

    1. My focus is cognitive skills and cognitive skills tests. For standardized tests, working a year or too ahead seems to be the formula for success.