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SAT Preparation Software Reviews

Score Builder for the SAT
by The Learning Company


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other SAT Preparation software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Children's Software Screen Shot Pentium90 with 16MB and a 2XCD

Description
Score Builder for the SAT is based on work by Dr. Garry Gruber, a long-time SAT consultant and author of "Garry Gruber's Complete Preparation for the SAT." Recognizing that a major goal of SAT preparation is to reduce the student's anxiety, Score Builder's main screen is set in Garry's warm-looking study. From the study, users can move through doors labeled Math, Verbal, and Tests, click on a personalized study plan, check test results, and compare their test results with average scores at 900 colleges.

In addition to lessons, drills, and strategy lectures, Score Builder includes three printed (paper) practice tests, provided to increase familiarity with the actual SAT.

Ease of Install / Use
SuperKids' review teams reported no difficulties in installing Score Builder for the SAT on their test machines. The installer asks only two questions (which drive and program group to install it in), and handles everything else. The program take up almost 8MB of hard disk space, but does not come with an uninstaller for Windows 3.1. This is unfortunate, because SAT preparation software is typically used for only a few weeks or months prior to taking the exam. Nonetheless, complete removal was not too difficult, because only one file (scrbldr.ini) is added to the user's system outside of the program group.

Our testers reported no difficulties in program use. Overall, we felt that Score Builder for the SAT had the best user interface of the four programs we reviewed. In particular, we found the personalized study plan to be an excellent feature, significantly better than those found in the other programs we reviewed. "Navigation within Score Builder was totally intuitive on those occassions when I elected to deviate from the prescribed study plan," commented one reviewer.

Methodology
New users sign in, and are given a video introduction by Dr. Gruber. Following an introductory tour, the user is encouraged to take a series of short assessment tests (proctored by an audio character who sounds remarkably like Garfield, the cat of cartoon fame). These tests are scored by the program and used to create a personalized study plan for each user. This study plan also incorporates information provided by the student in a simple profile form. Questions about previous test scores, score goals, and time available before taking the exam, help customize the study plan.

Users are free to follow the study plan, or pick and choose among a multitude of lessons and drills. Lessons take the form of "chalk talks," with an audio voice elaborating on points as they are shown on a chalkboard. For example, in the Verbal Strategies section, the user is presented five tips for solving Analogy problems:

Each strategy section also includes practice problems. Correct answers result in positive oral feedback; incorrect answers generate a "try again" message, and a hint button.

Best for...
Score Builder for the SAT is best for a student interested in a solid review, rather than learning strategies to attempt to "beat the test-writers."

Bottom-Line
This program offers a straight-forward approach, a well-organized and intuitive study plan, a thorough review of the exam and the types of questions it contains -- and strategies for dealing with them.


See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other SAT Preparation software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1 or higher; Win95 System 7.0.1 or later
CPU Type and Speed 486/25 or faster 68030 or faster
Hard Drive Space 8MB n/a
Memory (RAM) 4MB 4MB
Graphics SVGA 256 color 256 color monitor
CD-ROM Speed 2X 2X
Audio Windows compatible sound card n/a
Other Needs mouse mouse

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