I took the ETS PSAT (Pre-SAT) in 1995, then on to the real deal in 1996. My parents weren’t satisfied with the first score I got. The Princeton Review class they then signed me up for cost us $450.00. Meeting each Monday night in order to learn words like ‘perspicacious’ seemed to be their remedy to my poor verbal skills. Then I tried to give the SAT’s a good ol’ butt whipping in round two. Maybe a firm tap, needless to say, I did get into college.
Franklin and the Princeton Review got together and solved my SAT study problem. (Time to exult.) The Pocket Prep for the SAT tries to fulfill the need to buy electronic gadgets, yet feel productive at the same time. You know kids these days, if it doesn’t have batteries, a screen, and buttons, then it can’t be cool.
The unit comes with a durable Franklin carrying case, pencil, graph paper, quick reference card (for math equations and navigation tips for the unit), and the actual handset. Batteries are included, and I assume that they’ll last quite a while, as the screen isn’t color, nor is it backlit, and there is no audio.
With buttons A-E on the left hand side (used for multiple choice questions as well as other functions) and general navigation buttons on the right hand side, the study gizmo presents a nice large black and white LCD screen. A color screen on this unit would drive cost thru the roof and suck battery juice like a baby on a bottle. Hardware wise, I was not impressed by the navigation button. An up-down-left-right-select button is your primary means to navigation, but its quality is a hapless result of price-cutting.
The unit starts you up with four options, SAT prep, SAT Practice Test, Study Aids, and Settings. There’s plenty of options build into this palm pilot looking SAT guide. I figured that studying for the SAT should start out with SAT Prep. This section is basically a text file that gives advice, tips, and tricks about the latest version of the beloved test. “How to Crack the Critical Reading Section”, “Taking the New SAT”, and “How to Use This Device” are all found under this section. A quick read-thru of this prepared me for preparing for the test.
What Does the SAT Measure? If you’re like most high school students, you think of the SAT as a test of how smart you are. If you score 800 on the Critical Reading section, you’ll probably consider yourself a “genius”; if you score a 200, you may think of yourself as an “idiot”. You may even think of an SAT score as a permanent label, like your Social Security number. ETS encourages you to think this way by telling you that the test measures your ability to reason by claiming that you cannot significantly improve your score through special preparation. Nothing can be further from the truth. The SAT Is Not a Test of Reasoning “Closed Loop” The SAT is a test of how well you take the SAT.
With a boost of confidence, and the inside knowledge that Frances Brodsky, daughter to the vice-president of ETS, spent the summer after high-school writing questions for ETS tests I was pumped up to increase my score. On to the study aids! I prognosticate an increase in vocabulary, a sharpness of geometry and algebra, and a lot of my peers asking me why the heck I’m studying for the SAT’s.
There are four different “Tools”: Grammar Guide, Calculator, Drills and Exercises, and my word list. I was ready to add words to that list. My pursuit for a pastiche review of this product was going to come from this word study list. The grammar guide was stop number one for this SAT train I had going.
Facts About Verbs Introduction:
A verb combines with a noun or pronoun used as the subject to express a thought.
I speak English.
John speaks Spanish.
She spoke about it yesterday.
We have spoken about it before.
The SAT Prep is very munificent with information like this. All of the grammatical and spelling questions posed throughout my short lifetime were answered here.
“Q” is ordinarily followed by a “u” and one or more additional vowels. Eg. Query, enquire, question, quiet The only exceptions to this are a few place names and words of exotic origin. Iraq, Iqaluit, sheqel, qintar, qiviut, Chongqing, Qiqihar, qoph.
I haven’t heard of any of those “Q” words before, with exception of Iraq. I did heed that most of them sounded as though they were from a Spanish descent, or were capitalized making them the name of a place. Time to chalk that up to my Jeopardy memory bank section, and keep going.
“John runs like a professional track star.
John runs like the wind.”
The latter sentence is a simile, more of this is found under the Figurative Language section: Metaphor, Paradox, Puns, Onomatopoeia, Hyperbole, etc…
With my preparation for SAT preparation down, I was ready for some Drills and Exercises. SAT Word List Flash Cards, User List Flash Cards, Letris (that’s right, letter Tetris), Word Dozer, SAT Drills, and Grammar Quizzes awaited me.
I jumped on this Letris game before you could say the words “I don’t like studying”. With letters falling from the sky, and my thumbs ready I sang the infamous Tetris theme song out loud. “dun duh duh dun dad a dun…” This game let me down in more ways than one. Words had to be spelled from left to right and up to down. If I had a ‘w’ already down, and spelled the world ‘skate’ right next to the ‘w’, I would not be given credit for the word (‘wskate’ is not a word, but I’ve got limited space here!) the last problem I have with this game is something I’ve aforementioned. The goofy 5-way button just didn’t help this game. A word of advice, if Letris is your sole reason for purchasing this unit, the SAT Prep won’t satisfy your letter stacking desires. Look for an online Letris game or something of the sort.
Word Dozer was a bit better. You are a bulldozer. Slowly, letters appear and your objective: pushing/pulling letters into formations of words. Words which you form disappear, and points are awarded. Building diagonal words doesn’t work in this game either.
Enough games, I’m ready for some of the hardcore studying, on with the real deal. After messing around with the games and study tools, I jumped into one of the three full length practice tests. Each test is broken into 10 sections, math, reading, essay, and writing. All tests are given time limits, anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes are allotted depending on the type of test.
If I do not have any flour, I am not able to make cookies. If the statement above is true, which of the following statements must be true?
a) if I did not make cookies, I must not have had flour.
b) if I made cookies, I must have flour
c) if I have flour, I must be able to make cookies
d) if I was able to make cookies, I must not have any flour.
e) if I am not able to make cookies, I must not have any flour.
I don’t have a clue which answer is correct here. The SAT prep’s had no immediate feedback on the Practice Test. I could not tell which questions I answered wrong and which questions I answered correctly until after the section of the test I had just taken. It would have been nice to know if I was able to make cookies!
In the SAT Prep’s defense, there is a very detailed test result section once a practice test is completed. Information such as time spent, section number, correct answer, and your answer are displayed in list format. Each line is selectable so you can reference the actual question. This makes for a good follow-up study session, but requires discipline. There is also an explanation of why the answer is what it is, this feature was very helpful, and only hurt my pride a bit.
Having taken the actual SAT test myself, I can see a big difference between the SAT Prep and the actual Saturday morning test. Scrolling back and forth from the answers to the question for reference takes much longer on this device than on paper. This delay cut into my time ticker, and I wasn’t able to finish sections in a realistic period of time. I would have liked to have a bit more time tacked on for lack of quick paper shuffling. This also was a math issue when using the built in calculator. Flipping between questions and the built in calculator was difficult and unsatisfactory. I highly recommend a handheld calculator instead.
I went through an entire test in order to see how it would end up. I do admit, there were a few sections I answered “c” for each question just to speed up the process. The final readout of the test was very comprehensive. I liked the fact that I could see each question, the answer choices, and a brief explanation of how I should come to the correct answer.
The Pocket Prep for SAT is full of goodies:
Three full length, timed, sample tests
A ton of practice exercises
Even a few games
Complete carrying case
The SAT Prep’s downfall:
The most used button on the unit is probably the poorest part of the product.
In my opinion, I’d say that this product would be a great addition to the good ol’ pen and paper method of SAT preparation. I wouldn’t rely on this device as the sole means to study for the SAT test.