A simple test procedure is available to determine the in-plane shear strength of laminated composite materials, as well as other orthotropic and isotropic advanced material systems. The test apparatus is simple, inexpensive, and the flat rectangular plate test specimen is not restricted in size or aspect ratio. In addition to its use for laminated composite materials, the test can also be used for foam core sandwich panels. In sandwich panels, the tests can be used to determine the in-plane shear strength of the faces, the core and/or the adhesive bond between face and core. The shear stresses developed vary linearly in the thickness direction and are constant over the entire planform area.