Cracking the SAT now available for handhelds

(From eSchool News September 2005 print edition)

Franklin Electronic Publishing has a license agreement with Random House to publish The Princeton Review’s “Cracking the SAT” for the first time on a handheld electronic device. The result is a product called The Princeton Review Pocket Prep for the New SAT, a portable interactive handheld tutor designed to improve SAT scores with a complete test-preparation system that lets students prepare anywhere, the companies say.

This interactive handheld solution offers a complete Princeton Review test preparation suite for the new SAT. Features include self-directed verbal, math, and essay questions; practice exam diagnostics; practice drills; flash cards with 5,000 SAT vocabulary words; links to a Merriam-Webster dictionary and thesaurus; a custom user word list; an advanced grammar guide; and a calculator. Timed, full-length practice SAT exams with answers and explanations also are available.

The same Princeton Review test-prep features are available to Verizon cell-phone users (and soon for other carriers’ platforms) through a new, patent-pending push technology from VOCEL. The Princeton Review can now deliver content to teens on their phones whenever test preparation fits into students’ schedules.

Students can use their mobile phones to get interactive, hands-on practice, strategies, and tips in much the same way they’d play a game or download a ring tone. Once downloaded, the content resides in the phone, so test-prep applications can be accessed even if there is no phone signal.

“For parents and students looking for every competitive edge for school and college admissions, a cell phone can now deliver another new way to learn: early, often, everywhere, and in bite-sized pieces,” said Andy Lutz, vice president of program development for The Princeton Review. “Anything has a bit more cache when it involves the phone. We’ve honestly been surprised at just how excited students are about the idea of SAT preparation via their mobile phones.”

The cell-phone version includes graphics, vibrations, and sound effects designed to make the lessons more compelling. A special feature even allows parents to be notified about their child’s progress by phone or eMail.

The Princeton Review chose to tailor this service to standard cellular phones because research shows about half of American young people (ages 13-17) have a cell phone, making these devices much more ubiquitous among teens and college students than personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other handheld devices.

VOCEL uses QUALCOMM’s BREW solution to incorporate its cutting-edge “push” technology into this application. The technology permits students to choose their own test-prep schedule.

“My 15-year-old son is not yet disciplined enough to study for the SAT on his own,” said Carl Washburn, chief executive officer of VOCEL. “This technology is a godsend–SAT practice questions are automatically being sent to his phone throughout the day. The practice questions are impossible to ignore. Now he is answering SAT practice questions each day without my having to nag him to study.”

The handheld device retails through Franklin for $149.95. To get the cellular phone service through VOCEL, users must purchase or own a compatible phone. If the user is enrolled as a Princeton Review SAT prep student, she or he can download the course free of charge for a four-month period. If not, the service costs approximately $5.75 each month.

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