Friday, October 2, 2009

Review: College Prep Genius (Part Deux)

My first post about this product can be found here. This post serves as my formal review.

About the Program:

Created by fellow homeschooling mother Jean Burk, College Prep Genius is a PSAT/SAT prep program designed to teach students several helpful tricks, strategies, and acronyms to improve their overall SAT scores, thus paving the way to receive a free college education. The program consists of a textbook, workbook and 4 disc DVD set.

Using the Program:

My 13 year old daughter initially read through the entire textbook (in one day!--and not a my suggestion, either) to familiarize herself with the program. From there, we discussed how it would/not work for her, and her initial impression.

(I did not have her take the practice SAT exam. I instead selected random questions from the test for her to work through, while I gauged her overall approach and answers.)

While reading through the book, she found the amount of acronyms completely mind-boggling and overwhelming. In fact, she wasn't sure how they'd help her ace the SAT in the long run, as she was having a hard time memorizing them to begin with. (Memorizing the acronyms is a crucial aspect of College Prep Genius.)

Then it was my turn to read through the material. Oh boy! Let me tell you...I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out of their sockets. The sheer volume of information you're asked to retain is incredible!

Even after all that, we weren't about to give up without a fight. :) We were going to tackle this whopper, head-on!

After clearing our heads a bit, we decided to watch the DVD's together. This seemed to create a "light bulb" moment for us. Suddenly everything we'd read in the book made much more sense. Although the acronyms were still hard for Sierra to remember (like I said, there's a LOT of them!), she found the DVD's far easier to understand vs. simply reading the textbook. (The whole visual-learning thing in action, I suppose.)

We then worked through several sample math problems and practice essays, utilizing Burk's strategies. The results were amazing! I was so impressed with the whole "use logic to solve math problems without ever using a calculator" method, that I found myself (proudly--very, very proudly) solving algebraic equations with no difficulty, whatsoever. Sierra too, found herself understanding these normally "over her head" concepts with great success.
Now, I'm a huge proponent of finding a trick to solving problems. Back in school, one of the ways I learned my spelling words was to set the letters to a sort of "beat" with accompanying movement. (F-R-I...shoulder shake...E-N-D.)

Yes, I was a pretty weird kid. (And an even weirder adult!) However, I found the College Prep Genius method to be somewhat similar, albeit much more logical, in approach.


The overall key to SAT success, Burk stresses, is that the SAT doesn't measure what students already "know". It instead tests their ability to think logically. Also, there is no penalty for taking the SAT more than once, therefore students are highly encouraged to take the test multiple times in order to achieve their desired score.

The DVDs feel like a bit like a company Power-Point presentation with Jean Burk's kindly voice reading and explaining the text on the screen. Everything is presented in a "follow the bouncing ball" manner, with no frills or hype. Students are encouraged to follow along in their workbooks throughout the duration of the DVD's.

The textbook is a 178 page gold mine containing a wealth of information on everything from transcript information, reminders for getting enough rest, suggested hours of study (150), scholarship information and more.

Ok, back to the 150 hours of study....These should not be completed in a few weeks or even a couple of months! Rather, I would highly suggest that students take their time when working through this program. Otherwise, they may quickly become frustrated and begin reciting acronyms in their sleep!

Conclusion and Final Thoughts:

College Prep Genius is a very "meaty" course. Especially designed for the college-bound students, it's very detailed and extremely thorough. Even if your child doesn't necessarily want to attend college, this program would still prove beneficial due to the powerful test-taking strategies.

Like I said, Sierra was very overwhelmed at first. But later, she discovered she actually enjoyed the program (imagine that!), despite the fact that she hasn't officially decided on college yet.
I too was taken aback by its "beefiness" at first, but I'm now looking forward to using it with all three of my children later on.

College Prep Genius is available for a limited time for only $79. This is a great bargain considering the cost of tutors, or all the time and frustration associated with "going it alone". The website also provides several helpful articles on all aspects of college and SAT prep. Click here to learn more.

We award College Prep Genius with 1.5 thumbs up.

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