What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a learning aid to help teens prepare for the SAT test. Teens might want to use this in tandem with a book, a course, or a tutor.
What's it about?
One of the tried and true staples for college admissions is the SAT. Families looking for extra preparation for this test can turn to several nationally know test prep services, including Kaplan, a company that offers courses taught in a class, by a real-live tutor, or through books. Now, with FUTURE U: THE PREP GAME FOR SAT, Kaplan has partnered with Aspyr to eschew the human portion and give you a Kaplan course that's part virtual tutor and part game. The idea is to play your way to a better score and, hopefully, breeze into college.
FutureU features eight types of SAT games and 1,200 questions to get you with the program. Like the Kaplan concept, the software's focus is upon the understanding of concepts and not rote memorization of questions. The idea is to become a better problem solver at your own pace. So, with rudimentary yet cute, inoffensive background graphics of the fourth grade variety, you're privy to questions that focus on reading comprehension, math, and writing. Little, lighted gizmos which you click to answer questions are presented throughout for pizazz as is a stick figure avatar which you customize to be your pal through the questioning.
Is it any good?
But is the game as good as a human tutor or even that thick SAT prep book? Aspyr has done a bang-up job of presenting questions in a way that eases you into the concepts of fortifying your vocabulary, predicting answers when you don't quite know the solutions, and measuring your own weaknesses and strengths. Studying for the SAT test, which has been around since the 1920s, can evoke fear and loathing. With soothing music, that friendly, personalized avatar, and pastel backgrounds that calm your brain, the game quietly lures you in to its curriculum. It's easy to like and straightforward to use.
During the review of this game, we showed it to an actual Kaplan tutor, who liked it and recognized questions that she herself uses during her one-on-one sessions with students. One small problem with the software is that it sometimes takes a moment to register your answers when you click. But this isn't "Final Jeopardy" and time isn't an issue in the game. This software problem does come into play, though, when you're answering one of the reading quizzes. A highlight moves quickly over a numbered grid, asking you to pick a question from 1 to 5. Five is the most difficult. We had trouble getting the software to stop on 5 no matter how quickly we clicked. So we'd end up getting a question that was too easy. It's a small issue, but somewhat annoying nonetheless.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about whether learning in the framework of a game works. Which parts of the game do you enjoy most, the reading, the writing, or the math portions?