With SAT scores at their lowest levels in years (see “SAT stays at lowest levels in nearly a decade“), two of the country’s largest test-prep course providers are pairing with video game companies for the first time, to give students another way to practice for these oft-dreaded exams.

Aspyr Media Inc.’s “futureU” PC game, designed with Kaplan Inc. to help students study for the SATs using simple math, reading, and writing games, is now selling for $40. A portable version for the handheld Nintendo DS is expected to be available in mid-October for $30, and a downloadable version is also in the works.

The Princeton Review is also collaborating on a test-prep game, with France’s Ubisoft Entertainment SA. Called “My SAT Coach” and available for the Nintendo DS, it is due to go on sale this month for $30. It includes timed drills and more than 2,000 practice questions, as well as two full tests.

While there have been many computer-based learning and drill programs to prepare for standardized tests, this is the first time the test-prep giants are delving into video games for systems like the DS.

Both Kaplan and Princeton Review say the games are just one aspect of the plethora of test-prep materials and courses they provide. But as video games, along with social-networking sites such as Facebook, become a larger part of students’ lives, it “makes sense to take our curriculum and deliver it in a fun way,” said Kristen Campbell, director of Kaplan’s college prep programs.

“FutureU” lets players customize a stick figure-like character with some very basic attributes, then jump into games like “Glyphs,” a vocabulary booster that splits complex words into their roots to help people figure out their meaning. For example, the correct answer for “symbiosis” is “together” and “life.” After a player clicks on both words correctly, the game will give a definition (“a close association between two or more different organisms”) and pick out the root words (“sym” and “bio”).