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High tech test prep

Take Advantage of the Latest Ways to Study

High tech test prep

Do you have a smartphone or tablet computer? You probably keep it with you all the time, right? Why not use it to get ready for the SAT and ACT?

It seems like there’s an app for anything you can imagine, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that developers have come up with tons of programs and apps you can use to practice the math and vocabulary skills you’ll need for those college entrance exams.

Jieun Choe, who works on college admissions programs for Kaplan Test Prep, says programs for mobile devices are perfect for helping you work on areas where you need extra help, like algebra or punctuation. Or if you’re taking a test-prep class, you can download an app to preview what’s coming up.

“There are different types of prep and you don’t necessarily need to choose one or the other,” Choe says.

But it’s best to take a full-length practice test first to figure out your strengths and weaknesses, says Ned Johnson, founder of tutoring company PrepMatters. You need to know which types of questions you missed and why.

Some parts of the ACT and SAT are easier than others to practice with on an app, Johnson adds. It’s pretty easy to answer a few grammar or math questions on your phone, but you’ll have a harder time doing that if essay-writing is your trouble spot.

PrepMatters has an app called VocabMatters that was designed like a game with levels you can beat. Programs that are actually fun to use make test preparation feel like less of a chore, says Devorah Goldblatt, executive director of Advantage Point Test Prep. Plus, she’s seen that using apps helps some students remember information better.

But even though her company has come up with its own app, ACT/SAT Math Booster, Goldblatt says you still have to do some of your practice with pencil and paper.

“You need to practice with the actual space that you have,” Goldblatt says.

So, take advantage of technology when it comes to preparing for standardized tests, but be sure to pick up a good ol' fashioned pencil and paper when necessary.

Rebecca VanderMeulen has a degree in journalism from American University (

Check out these great apps!

* ACT/SAT Math Booster: Program your graphing calculator with shortcuts like solving a quadratic equation. Don’t worry - the shortcuts are all OK under testing rules. It costs less than a dollar in the Android Market, or get a lite version for free.

* Kaplan SAT TurboTest: Take a practice SAT in 90 minutes. This program adjusts the questions based on how well you do and predicts what your score would be on the real SAT. Free at and compatible with the iPad.

* SAT Vocab Words You Embed In Your Head: Bored by long lists of new words? This app has cartoons illustrating the meaning of 270 vocabulary words. Costs $2.99 in Apple’s App Store and Android Market.

* VocabMatters: Practice more than 1,300 common vocabulary words in flashcard or quiz form. Buy it for $3.99 in the App Store.


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