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spacer all reviews > > > math software

Beat the Calculator

ABATEC Educational Software

Ages 7 and up

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Beat the Calculator Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Beat the Calculator is designed to improve a personís skills at mental math. The software requires a user to identify numbers that combine to a computer-determined total. Users must choose this combination of numbers from a game board. To qualify as a valid response, the numbers must be adjacent to each other on the game board. By levels 3 and 4 of the program, a user must solve complicated problems in his head. The faster a player responds to questions, the more points he receives. The program deducts points for incorrect answers and, therefore, discourages random guessing.

A child can play Beat the Calculator in German, English or Dutch. She can play alone or compete with her friends. In the multi-user interface, all participants play at the same time. The person who guesses the answer to an equation first types in her code on the keyboard and then tries to answer the question accurately. The program ensures that no participant is left waiting for her competitor to complete a round. A kid can adjust Beat the Calculator to her ability level. She can also click on an icon called Tips ní Tricks if she is confused about mathematics rules and operations.

Educational Value
Beat the Calculator allows kids to practice mental calculation. At advanced levels, kids must identify a sequence of three positive and negative numbers that combine, through addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division, to a total specified by the computer program.

Most kids are so reliant on calculators, they are not even confident with simple mathematics. By fifth- or sixth-grade, many kids may have significant aversion to the introductory levels of Beat the Calculator, so parents may want to introduce this program to their children at an early age.

Kid Appeal
Kids who doubt their abilities at math may feel that their experience with this program only confirms their lack of talent at mathematics. Adults should provide weak math students with positive feedback and ideas for how to tackle mental math problems. The competitive element of this program may engage children, especially if they begin work with the program at an early age.

The program assists teachers and parents in evaluating a childís progress. Adults can track how well a child has performed at a certain level, how her performance compares with earlier sessions, and how her performance compares with that of other users.

Ease of Use / Install
To install the program, a user must simply insert the CD-ROM into the drive of his computer. Then he must click the Setup file and follow simple instructions. Guidelines for running the program appear on the opening screen of the program.

The interface of Beat the Calculator is simple and labeled with clear headings. A user can click on icons to learn how to play the game and chart scoring and progress. The program does not clearly describe how a user should use the keys and mouse to choose numbers on the game board, but after a few tries and some adult assistance, kids will figure out how to run the program.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This program will help any user improve her mental math skills. While running this program, a user will encounter simple and complex equations and review basic mathematics operations. If a kid spends significant amounts of time working with this program, she will develop an increased sense of confidence in her math abilities. Adult should support weak math students with positive feedback and problem-solving strategies; otherwise, such students will feel discouraged and overwhelmed.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other math software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of this PC-only program

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.x/95/98, 485 or faster cpu, 2-8MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM .

Reviewed on:

  • Apple G4 using Virtual PC
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