Aug 24, 2009

High-Tech Test Prep

What’s the quickest way to get mom and dad to spring for a new iPod Touch or invest in a spiffy new iPhone or Blackberry? Tell them it’s for SAT prep. Yes, thanks to a growing squad of entrepreneurial geeks who got where they are today by "dialing toll free" or otherwise acing college entrance exams, exciting new technology is being introduced which is bound to revolutionize test prep through the use of clever iPhone/iPod applications or “apps” downloaded via Apple’s iTunes Store. And the price is right. After the initial equipment investment—less than an SAT prep class—apps go for between $0.99 and $4.99, the latter capitalizing on name brands in the test prep industry such as The Princeton Review.

In the old days, enterprising students made flashcards. They came in 3x4 or 5x7—your choice. These days, flashcards are made through Google’s online spreadsheet service and magically transported onto devices more commonly used for listening to music or texting friends at odd hours of the day and night. Using the technical wizardry of gFlash-Pro, students can make electronic flashcards, discretely study a cardset using a nifty autoshuffle function, devise multiple choice practice tests, and otherwise learn vocabulary or related standardized test material without looking like a total nerd. Cards can be based on vocabulary lists and definitions painstakingly typed onto any 2 column Google spreadsheet or may be obtained by downloading the same information from websites offering lists of SAT words. Obviously, you learn more if you do the work rather than letting others do it for you. Nevertheless, the process is simple either way.

Beyond the task of creating flashcards, iTunes offers a growing menu of pre-packaged standardized test prep apps. Most of the SAT apps are targeted to vocabulary development. SAT Words5000 ($0.99), while not yet rated, offers definitions and flashcards for 5000 “collegiate” words (in English or Japanese!); SAT Vocabulary Hangman ($3.99) supports 992 words; and the Princeton Review SAT Vocabulary Challenge ($4.99) promises mastery of 250 of the most commonly tested SAT vocabulary words. Watermelon Express offers a number of apps including SAT Prep, SAT Prep Reading, and SAT Prep Writing. Designed by an SAT tutor with almost a decade of experience, 411 Prep: SAT Math provides 450 different kinds of test questions in a flashcard format as well as an advanced portion for students shooting for a math score of 700 or higher. And Chemistry SAT II Prep Lite, while featuring a trademark flaming pumpkin, may be downloaded free of charge by those hoping for a brief brush-up before the Chemistry Subject Test.

If your exploration of the iTunes Store has gone no further than looking for the latest version of Frogger or Sheep Launcher Plus, than may I direct you to a more educational or parent-friendly department. It won’t hurt to add a few SAT apps to your toolbox of low-stress or high-tech test prep devices. Who knows? It may mean a visit to your neighborhood Apple Store.

No comments:

Post a Comment