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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
VARSITY TUTORS is a paid one-on-one in-person and online tutoring service, but this mobile app acts as both a portal to live tutoring and a large bank of multiple-choice questions for lots of subjects and assessments. The app offers diagnostic and practice tests with nicely presented results or the same test questions presented as daily reviews, conceptual reviews (with brief explanations), or customizable flash card decks. The app covers subjects across the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for all grades, most common high school tests (SAT, AP, ACT, GED, and more), and up to professional- and graduate-level tests such as the MCAT, LSAT, and GRE. Each question is presented full-screen, with easily selectable options and immediate feedback.
Is it any good?
By itself, it's not a good tool for learning anything, but it does offer lots of test-prep practice. Since every question is a test-style multiple-choice question, it won't help with mastery of skills and procedures or give kids any deep understanding. The "learn by concept" section presents a question with the correct solution already identified, followed by a brief explanation, often with some work shown. Unfortunately, this won't really help kids learn much, unless they're already great at sitting down with a textbook and example problems and teaching themselves, which most aren't. Also, even though it has content for kids as young as six, it's really designed for an older, more self-directed kid who will prepare for milestone tests independently. However, the app makes up for its lack of depth with a huge number of problems, so for students who want to replace those hefty test-prep books with something more mobile, this is a fine option.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using technology to learn. Is an app like this helpful to prepare for tests? Why, or why not?
Families can talk about the purpose of standardized testing and the frustrations it can create. Are long multiple-choice tests really a great measure of how smart or well-educated someone is? How much prep work does it take to do well on these tests?
Also discuss the benefits of practice, whether it's for school, for college prep, for sports, or for games. Why is it sometimes good to do repetitive tasks to improve?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: memorization
Self-Direction: academic development
Tech Skills: using and applying technology
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free (live tutoring requires payment plan, around $50/hour)
- Release date: March 23, 2016
- Category: Education
- Size: 42.00 MB
- Publisher: Varsity Tutors, LLC
- Version: 1.4.0
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up
For kids who love homework help
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.