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Articles / Preparing for College / How's Your Test Prep APP-etite?

Jan. 21, 2016

How's Your Test Prep APP-etite?

Being a Baby Boomer, with my stubborn clinging to "old school" ideas and approaches to things in general, I am constantly amazed at the onslaught of technology -- for better or worse. I'm reading about the dire warnings of such august authorities as Stephen Hawking, who is concerned that our probing development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), will lead to (wo)mankind's ultimate demise.

Driverless cars are on the verge of deployment. That's just what I need to see coming at me on the other side of the thin yellow line. And don't even mention robotics. The Doomsdayers are predicting that by 2020 half of America's jobs will be performed by robots. Like the old airplane joke goes, what could possibly go wrong ... go wrong ... go wrong ...


And how about smartphones? I know some people who are following the Weight Watchers (WW) plan, now that the holidays have left them above a certain comfortable specific density. One of them, a particularly avid technofan, has an app on his phone that allows him to "show" his phone a piece of food in a restaurant and the phone's app, in turn, will tell him how many WW points it will cost him to eat it. To me, that's borderline scary.

You've probably heard the statement, "There's an app for that!" Pretty soon there will probably be an app for almost everything. Our lives will collapse around our smartphones and we may even defer to their judgment in any number of situations.

Do you know about Siri? That's a fun thing, speaking of moderate AI. For the uninformed, here's some Siri info:

Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) /ˈsɪri/ is a part of Apple Inc.'s iOS, watchOS, and tvOS operating systems. Siri is a computer program that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator. The feature uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Web services. The software, both in its original version and as an iOS feature, adapts to the user's individual language usage and individual searches (preferences) with continuing use, and returns results that are individualized ...

So how does all this app chat relate to college? Well, just yesterday, I received notice about a group of apps that may be of practical advantage to high schoolers preparing themselves for the latest changes in the SAT. With the newest version of the SAT coming up in the next couple of months, March will be a make-or-break month for students looking to pave the way for their college hopes. It'll likely be a month of stressful studying and memorization to prep for a version of the test that has no precedent.

Thus, I thought that I would preview these, as they're called, "Top Five Education App Resources to Help Students Conquer The SAT." Here they are, in all their press-release glory:

ScoreBeyond's SAT Up's mobile test taking DNA integrates Big Data into the test prep process – merging a number of disparate technologies (mobile, personalization, in-app purchasing, push notification, and data visualization) into one main application hub to track study and 'daily workout' progress over time for statistical feedback on students' progress. With the app's most recent integration of video chat tutoring, students can provide feedback on their tutors to help the app learn over time which students they match with most cohesively.

Mentored is an on-demand 1:1 learning solution leading the charge in democratizing affordable learning for standardized test prep, homework help, and more through a comprehensive mobile app that gives students easy access to a wealth of mentors and experts ready to help at a moment's notice. Outfitted with a simple user interface and a unique 'whiteboard' feature for seamlessly simple teaching sessions, the app is the perfect resource to deliver a personalized learning experience that can't be found anywhere else.

Mathemagics offers one of the most highly recommended SAT math learning experiences on the market for those that might find the arithmetic portion of the exam to be their biggest hurdle. Since math processes are much more comprehensive in the amount of work they require to be solved, efficiency – and even mental tricks to cut corners – are key. Mathemagics teaches students the techniques of mental math calculation through basic skills like addition, subtraction, simple multiplication and division. Students have the option of diving headfirst into specific disciplines via the app as well, such as geometry and algebra.

SAT Vocab by MindSnacks is the premier solution for students that actively struggle on the verbal and language sections of the SATs. Created using a 'gamified' model of learning, the app replaces the tedious flashcards used in traditional learning apps with rich and unique play experiences that seeks to provide students with an enjoyable learning experience to speed the uptake of key elements of the SAT such as antonyms, context and spelling, all while boosting their ever-expanding vocabulary.

Calendars 5 by Readdle might not be your 'go-to' idea for an educational SAT test prep resource, but what most don't realize about the test is that there's an inherent need for students to understand the nuances of time management to really excel when taking it. Just as important as understanding the exam's material, is understanding how to maximize time. Calendars 5 is the perfect solution to help engrain the concept of time management with its clean, easy-to-use user interface that makes it ideal for students to organize their schedule. The app comes complete natural language input, a built-in task manager and offline operation, so students won't miss a beat.

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In case you've been out of the galaxy recently and don't know what I mean by "the latest changes in the SAT," here's a One-Sentence Summary of New SAT vs Old SAT:

"The New SAT will be a lot more like the ACT in that it will test school skills more and rely on 'testing tricks' less."

So, it's time to get Siri-ous (you had to know that I couldn't resist that one) about your SAT prep. Hopefully, some of the above might have a special APPeal for you.

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Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.

Written by

Dave Berry

Dave Berry

Dave is co-founder of College Confidential and College Karma Consulting, co-author of America's Elite Colleges: The Smart Buyer's Guide to the Ivy League and Other Top Schools, and has over 30 years of experience helping high schoolers gain admission to Ivy League and other ultra-selective schools. He is an expert in the areas application strategies, stats evaluation, college matching, student profile marketing, essays, personality and temperament assessments and web-based admissions counseling. Dave is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has won national awards for his writing on higher education issues, marketing campaigns and communications programs. He brings this expertise to the discipline of college admissions and his role as a student advocate. His College Quest newspaper page won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award, the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publisher's Association Newspapers in Education Award, the Thomson Newspapers President's Award for Marketing Excellence and the Inland Press Association-University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Mass Communications Inland Innovation Award for the Best New Page. His pioneering journalism program for teenagers, PRO-TEENS, also received national media attention. In addition, Dave won the Newspaper Association of America's Program Excellence Award for Celebrate Diversity!, a program teaching junior high school students about issues of tolerance. His College Knowledge question-and-answer columns have been published in newspapers throughout the United States. Dave loves Corvettes, classical music, computers, and miniature dachshunds. He and his wife Sharon have a daughter, son and four grandchildren.

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