Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Prep For Your Genius (?)

Having a student in 9th grade for the first time, PSAT and SAT preparation is now on the scope of my horizon. What to do? How to prepare?  Have they changed much since I took them 20+ years ago? I was interested then, to have the opportunity to review the College Prep Genius course set which came complete with text book, work book and DVD. 
The textbook is split into 6 major sections:
  • Introduction to the SAT~ This section includes information on What is the SAT?, What is the PSAT/NMSQT? , How Do I Practice?, and Taking the Real Test. I found a lot of useful information in this section with some generalities (Like don't answer a question you aren't sure about, since unanswered questions don't add or subtract from your score), although it seemed as though there were a lot of things that were mentioned multiple times in various sections. This may have been to emphasize the point, but I know that my daughter gets annoyed with repetition, so the emphasis is more likely to make her tune out. :/  A more streamlined approach would make more sense to me. There were also a few grammatical and/or editing errors that kept popping out at us in this section. That is disappointing in a book that is geared towards creating excellent test-takers.
  • Parts 2-4 are the real "Meat" of the program, with advice on how to approach all three sections of the SAT test, with tips, and very useful examples. They incorporate many acronyms to help test-takers to focus on each specific type of question. Although we aren't quite ready to head to the local high school to take any SAT test just yet, I think that incorporating these sections into Eldest's school work-week over the course of the next year(s) could be helpful for when she enters the world of standardized testing.
  • Part 5 is geared towards scholarship searches, with tips on applying as well as website resources for finding a variety of scholarships. 
  • Part 6 relates to "journaling" your SAT test-taking successes and failures, and using that information to prepare yourself to do a better job the next time you take the test. There are reproducible forms in this section.
  • The book ends with an appendix of Vocabulary Words, one of Math Terminology, and a final appendix that is a bit of a personality quiz.
Jean Burk of College Prep Genius recommends that students take the SAT in the 9th and 10th years in preparation for taking the PSAT/NMSQT their Junior year. Acclimating to the testing environment is an idea that makes sense, although I felt the recommendation goes a little too far in suggesting that using the same watch and the same calculator would make some sort of difference.

Jean is also fairly serious about spending hours preparing for the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT tests in order to qualify for significant scholarships. The recommendation is to spend about 150 hours preparing for the tests. This seems like an outrageous amount of time, but it averages out to about 1 hour per week (There will be some weeks that use less time and others more, realistically). The premise is that if the test score is high enough, the financial gain for the hours invested could be as high as $500/hour, if a full ride scholarship is garnered.

Because we clearly haven't taken any official tests as of yet, I cannot speak to the outcome of using this program. However, there are some specific strategy suggestions that should serve to be beneficial, particularly since we have avoided most standardized testing so far.

The DVD portion of the course is, as might be expected, fairly dry (This is a standardized test-prep course after all... can't get much drier than that). I would recommend the DVD mostly for those who are auditory learners, as the text of the majority of the slides were far too small to be read comfortably. I would also recommend watching the DVD when the student is wide awake, as the Jean Burk's voice had a somewhat soporific effect on me.

The Nitty Gritty~

The College Prep Genius Set components retail separately for $129.85, but the set is offered at a 25% savings at $99.00, and a 30 day, 100% money-back guarantee.

To sum up~ I believe that the College Prep Genius Set is a rather dry but also rather thorough preparation for taking the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT tests. If you have a student who is serious about doing well on those tests, isn't motivated by "Bells and Whistles," and is willing to work steadily through the book, then there is a good chance that they will garner high scores.

Other Crew mates reviewed the Vocabcafe Series of books, so please be sure to stop by the Crew Blog to hear more opinions, and check out the vocab books!

As always, I hope that this review was helpful to you as you search for the best products to use in your homeschool and college preparation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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