August 22, 2014

SAT Prep Goes High-Tech

Apps and video games add a new dimension to SAT prep

Kristin Stanberry

Yes, it’s that time again! High school students all across the country are gearing up to take the SATs. To enhance (and even energize) the test prep process, you and your college-bound teen may want to know about the best apps, websites, and even video games designed for that purpose. So we’ve rounded up this assortment of highly-rated tech tools for you to consider.

Mobile Apps
SAT Vocab Mind Snacks – With this iOS app, kids can have fun while learning SAT-level words—the definitions, pronunciation, antonyms, and spelling. There’s a lot to learn and love here: nine games, 25 levels, and 500 SAT vocabulary words. Common Sense Media says this app “turns what could be a mundane memorization task into a fun and useful activity.” Graphite (Common Sense Media’s tool for educators exploring digital learning tools) rates the game high for learning and engagement, and claims, “Variety is key in charmingly effective SAT vocab app.”

SAT Word Slam — Like Mind Snacks, this iOS app is all about learning and testing SAT vocabulary words (400 of them in this game). Each word is accompanied by a poem, mnemonic device, definition, and audio recording (professional recordings that include some entertaining voices and foreign accents). And players can create personalized playlists of vocabulary words they need to master. Occasional snarkiness and references to alcohol make it unsuitable for younger teens.

SAT Ladder — Does competition motivate your teen to learn? If so, this SAT test prep app (for iOS) might be just the ticket. This app has broad SAT application as it calls on students’ critical reading, math and writing skills. The goal is beating the competition with winning answers which earns users the right to climb the ladder. As U.S. News and World Report points out in its review, the game has long-term value because it “stores answered questions for later review, and allows users to earn points to unlock explanations for the challenges that troubled them.”

Latest Reads

K-5 Kids

We’ve talked about the importance of reading with your kids and serving as models for lifelong learning. Research continues to highlight the value of the shared practice for developing their literacy skills, preparing them for elementary school and the world beyond.

Middle School

We’ve been hearing about game-based learning for quite some time, along with the promise that any day now software engineers and game designers will figure out a way to harness the near-addictive enthusiasm kids bring to video games to help them learn. That day might indeed be close, given the big names now throwing energy and resources at the challenge, including Bill Gates himself.

High School

Contributing to Five Things I’ve Learned, Dr. Russell J. Quaglia, the president and founder of the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), reminds us that asking questions is easy. Engaging students and helping them move forward with their ambitions is what makes real change—and brilliant futures—possible.