College Prep Genius Review

9/28/2009
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I have been spending some time with my oldest son and College Prep Genius over the last 6 weeks and while I hadn't given college prep much thought before, it is fresh on my brain now (I can't say the same for my son, though).

First, some information about the products I received: "The No Brainer Way To SAT Success" and "Master the SAT Class" to review are products by College Prep Genius that are designed to prepare your student for the SAT, improve their test scores, build confidence and lessen test anxiety. “Master the SAT Class” encompasses all facets of the SAT and PSAT and covers all three sections of the tests. It also teaches unique techniques designed to help students improve their test‐taking abilities.
From the website:
"The textbook contains over 170 pages jammed full of helpful advice, including: revealed secrets . . . In total there are over 350 tips, shortcuts, strategies and pertinent college prep material in the text. The workbook contains a full set of practice problems that complements the DVD and textbook and covers every SAT question type."
Techniques discussed: Critical Reading:
  • How to cut your Critical Reading time in half
  • The three main question types in all the passages
  • The most common mistake people make on the Dual Reading Passage
  • How not to be fooled by certain questions
  • How to eliminate wrong answer choices
  • Which words in the answer choice are paramount to circle
  • The four recurring tricks hidden in the answer choices
  • The vocabulary trick most people fall for
  • The secret to answering the Short Reading Passage
  • The place to look for the main idea in the Short Passage—it’s always the same
  • How to take advantage of the semi‐colon or colon clues in the Sentence Completion section
  • How to answer the double blank questions quickly
  • When to ignore the first blank
Math Section:
  • How to rarely use your calculator
  • How to answer the problems the short way
  • What to do with unknown variables
  • The hidden math pattern that screams “this is the answer”
  • How wrong answers point you to right answer
  • How to eliminate 2‐3 answers right off the bat
  • Why the order of the answers is so important
  • Three easy geometry rhymes to help your remember formulas
  • The fastest way to answer a fraction question
  • How to dismantle a scary problem
Writing Section:
  • How to write a great essay in 15 minutes
  • What are the essay judges looking for
  • The four C’s and four S’s of a great essay
  • Types of essay topics that might appear
  • The biggest key to an amazing essay
  • The timing mistake to avoid
  • How to make the best use of all the lines provided
  • Recurring patterns and mistakes on the Sentence Error section
  • The key to finding the Improving Sentence answer quickly
  • Answering Improving Paragraph questions in shorter time
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Price: “Master the SAT Class” DVD: $59.95 College Prep Genius textbook: $39.95 Class workbook: $15.95 Total value: $115.85 Introductory Price: $79 (30% OFF) This also has a "100% Money Back Guarantee."
Readers can receive free shipping and handling by using this special code: HSBlog09 (Expires November 15, 2009).

Our experience:

To be honest, it was hard to get my son into this program. There is a reason why I had not given college prep one teeny tiny little thought (even though my oldest is beginning 8th grade this year): He has never expressed an interest in going to college (and still doesn't). (Just so you know, my son has a very hands-on mechanical bent and would like to learn a trade by apprenticing. I did suggest the possibility of going to a trade school, though).

I very much appreciated having the DVDs in the Master the SAT Class because while he is a kinesthetic learner, he is also a visual learner. He didn't mind watching them with me. A workbook accompanies the set of 4 DVDs. We watched the introductory DVD together and worked through some of the workbook.

The Starter Quiz at the beginning of the book was our first experience with the workbook. It is a quiz designed to motivate students, but I thought it was a"no brainer" type quiz designed to get the student to buy into the materials and in our case did not motivate much. For instance, one question states "When it comes to college money, I want to A) Make minimum wage B) earn $10 an hour C) rob a bank D) earn $500 an hour." First of all, it is obvious which option one would choose and silly that robbing a bank was an option.

Knowing that my son does not want to go to college, I had him choose the answers he would pick if he did want to go. By the way, the $500 an hour is based off of spending 150 hours on this program and receiving a $75,000 scholarship. In theory, that is good money.

The DVD presents logic strategies and helps students by teaching them simple techniques and a lot of acronyms. One technique in particular caught my attention: the Positive-Negative Test. When you see a vocabulary word, you note what your first thoughts of the word are and whether it has a positive or negative sound to it. For example, licentious sounds like lie and sin, so it just sounds negative (and is). We really enjoyed that section.

We learned several other "tricks" to solving problems on the SAT as well as how to write acronyms, underline words, circle sentences, draw arrows and mark out wrong answers - all designed to keep the student's pencil moving and their brain thinking during the test.

The No Brainer Way To SAT Success book is a 178 page book filled with information designed to get your student to think logically. In fact, they suggest you complete a logic curriculum as well in your preparation for the test.

 My thoughts: I have never been fond of a scope and sequence that "teaches to the test." But, then I thought this might be a good thing to do (whether or not my son changes his mind about college) because it would "look good" (or make me look good if he gets a good score); however, since the SAT is not a reflection of what I have taught him or of what he knows, but rather a test of how well he can think logically, I'm not so sure. I would rather just add a logic curriculum to our eclectic blend of materials and call it good. Maybe. Thankfully, I have a couple years to think about this. But, I will for sure keep College Prep Genius around for when/if we need it because I can't imagine sending him in to take a test like this without some preparation for it.

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1 comment:

Andi said...

Good and Honest Review - not mention the concept on not going into dept for a college degee... :)

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