My oldest is a sophomore this year, and we’d already decided that he would take the PSAT for the first time this fall. He was nervous, and understandably so. We do the standard achievement tests each year, and this year he’d said it was easy, and then proved it by scoring at the top of the chart.
The PSAT is a completely different animal, and my son knew it. We received the test booklet in mid-September, and he spent a few days studying it and then taking the practice test.
He wanted me to score the test, and I was happy to do so – until I was making all the red marks and realized just how many questions he’d gotten wrong. (The PSAT is one of those tests that takes off points for incorrect answers.)
Once I had everything totaled, I decided I’d better look up average tests scores, so I’d know how he compared… and be able to give him an understanding of where he stood in relation to others his age, rather than a sea of wrong answers.
Turned out to be not too bad – he was slightly above average on every section.
Before showing him his paper, I asked how he felt he’d done. He thought he’d done ok, but there were a lot of questions that he just wasn’t sure exactly what they were looking for, and he didn’t feel confident that he’d done well.
I reminded him of the point subtraction for wrong answers, told him that he’d scored above average, and then showed him his answer sheet. He was shocked, and determined to study his mistakes and learn from them.
And then a new review arrived: College Prep Genius, a DVD set/text/workbook combo, now in its second edition.
I hadn’t mentioned it to Michael, because I wasn’t sure it would arrive in time to be of any use for this year. When I showed College Prep Genius to him, and asked him to please put other schoolwork on hold, and focus on it until the test, he thought I was crazy. It’s a ton of material, with over eight hours on the DVDs.
Knowing that the PSAT test doesn’t include the essay, I was able to tell him to ignore that portion for now, we’d cover it when we go through it at a slower pace later. (I’m thinking that next year, I’ll have my freshman test, too. It’s inexpensive, and the more experiences they have with the test previously, the more comfortable they’ll be when it comes down to ‘the one that counts’.)
And so he crammed, diving into the relevant videos and workbook. I didn’t hear much from him in those few days – this was one task where the parent would have just gotten in the way. It’s completely usable by the student alone, though it can also be used as the backbone for a class. (I’d think it might not be as effective that way due to distraction, but something is better than nothing, I suppose.)
When I asked him the day before the exam if he thought it would help, he told me that he wasn’t sure, but he now understood the intent of most types of questions, and was fairly confident that he could improve his score over the practice test.
After the test, he believed he’d done fairly well. I don’t have numbers and test scores to give you – we don’t expect those to arrive before December – but I will tell you this: there was a HUGE improvement in his mental readiness for the PSAT, and just that is going to improve test scores. I fully expect to see great results.
Rather than teaching facts, College Prep Genius is designed to give students a plan of action for answering each type of question. Using the methods presented, students are much more likely to accurately narrow the possible answers, and get more questions correct.
The DVD makes the program easy to use – there really isn’t any teacher prep or planning required. The large format paperback text and workbook have everything needed to follow along with the DVDs, and the DVD does the instruction.
This is appropriate for anyone who intends to take the PSAT, SAT, or NMSQT tests – or really, any kind of standardized tests whatsoever. The logic and strategy are useful to test-taking in general.
I’ll share solid numbers when we have scores back. I anticipate a huge inprovement over the practice test, and the increase in confidence alone would be worth the price of the College Prep Genius set.
College Prep Genius is going to be mandatory for all of my kids – this is college preparedness that no one should miss out on. The test scores alone are just too important for college entrance, and the possibility of increased scholarship eligibility make a program like this a necessity.
College Prep Genius is a must-have for the high-school homeschooler – and, it’s far less expensive than tradition test prep courses taught outside the home.
Right now, the College Prep Genius DVD Set is 25% off, a great deal at just $99.
Other crew members reviewed the VocabCafe fiction series. Chock-full of SAT vocabulary words, VocabCafe includes 300 words in each book, with definitions at the bottom of the page, plus a word review and appendix to facilitate ease of learning.
To see what other crew members had to say about both great products, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog post, College Prep Genius.
**I received this product for free as a member of the 2011-12 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew so that I could provide you with an honest review of it by our family.**