Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review – College Prep Genius

College Prep Genius
Master the SAT Class

Cost:  $99 for the DVD Set

As homeschoolers, we know that our SAT scores are going to be very important to college admissions.  Colleges may or may not give credence to our student’s grades, but they will look at the test scores to see if their abilities correspond with what we say they can do.

Additionally, SAT and PSAT tests are critical for those students seeking scholarships.  Colleges offer merit awards based on these scores.  The higher the score, the more likely it is that your student will be offered monies to attend school.

With each of my children, I have purchased the College Board SAT Study Guide.  Used alone, I found it to be difficult for my kids to get into.  The practice tests are invaluable, but the content isn’t very helpful.  Along comes College Prep Genius.  Using this College Board guide (as recommended with this program) along with a workbook, text and DVD’s, not only are the types of problems identified, but test taking strategies are covered.

I can’t say enough good things about teaching test taking strategies!  This is especially important when taking tests like the SAT because they are developed with intentional critical thinking tricks that trip up most students.  When your student understands how to breakdown these tricks and identify the real requirements of a given problem, he/she will be much more successful.  They teach study skills at colleges and universities for this reason.  Having taught these courses, I wish every freshman in high school and in college was required to take a study skills/test taking course their first semester!

The program is structured to use the College Board Guide for tests, a textbook to understand concepts, DVD video to reinforce concepts and a workbook to demonstrate the student's aptitude. 

The DVD is twelve lessons that are about 45 minutes each.  The speaker does a good job of indicating why concepts are important and using visual cues to demonstrate concepts.  The DVD has the following lessons:
  • Lesson 1 – Introduction to the SAT
  • Lesson 2 – Critical Reading – Long Passage
  • Lesson 3 – Critical Reading – Short and Dual Passage
  • Lesson 4 – Critical Reading – Sentence Completion
  • Lesson 5 – Math – Mulitple Choice
  • Lesson 6 – Math – Multiple Choice Practice Problems and Answers
  • Lesson 7 – Math – Student Response
  • Lesson 8 – Math – Student Response Practice Problems and Answers
  • Lesson 9 – Writing – The Essay
  • Lesson 10 – Writing – The Essay
  • Lesson 11 – Writing – Sentence Error
  • Lesson 12 – Writing Improving Sentences and Improving Paragraphs
Understanding the SAT

The first sections cover what the SAT is.   It’s not just any test.  Homeschoolers have less experience with testing than most public schoolers, so I felt this section was excellent.  Explaining what the test is, how it is administered and the pacing of the test are all helpful to making the student at ease with the experience.  Additionally, taking multiple practice tests are important.  Typically, it takes three attempts at the SAT to get your best score.  I’d rather have those preliminary attempts done at home so that the scores start out higher.


You’d be surprised how many students struggle with the reading aspect of standardized tests.  The ability to read and the ability to comprehend aren’t one in the same.  This is especially true if your student is nervous about the test, tired, or unfocussed.  The first section covers how to approach long, short and dual passages.  Tips for what to look for in the passage and how to approach the reading are very helpful.  Suggestions like not reading entire passages but skipping to the cited section are excellent – anything that can save time is key. 


Math… Urgh.  Some kids are mathematically inclined and some are not. If your child isn’t, then he/she is probably stressing over the math section of the test.  Jean Burk, the speaker/author, does a good job of demonstrating how to look at math problems and determine what is really being asked then simplifying.  Often the problems are made to look much more difficult than they really are.  By being able to determine EXACTLY what they are looking for, the student can eliminate unnecessary long drawn out mathematical steps.  I think the hidden patterns section is especially helpful.  The author walks the student through  identifying Imposter Answers, Confusing Organization and the Order of the question even if it’s presented out of order.  Additionally, the Appendix has a math terms section that the student can use to review all the terms and determine what he/she needs additional review on.

Writing is the newest addition to the test.  While the basics of English have always been covered, being able to demonstrate ability through writing is newer.  One needs to be aware that these essays get about two minutes of review time before they are scored.  So, it’s important to hit the high notes well.  Strong thesis, clear topic sentences, included quotations, strong/descriptive language are all considered.  Being able to incorporate these into a strong essay in 25 minutes takes practice.  The DVD and text do an excellent job of stating the importance of these concepts and how to improve one’s writing to meet expectations. Practice, practice, practice is important!

Yes, there is a section on where to start looking for scholarships – yay!


The author suggests that students keep a journal of any problems they miss throughout the workbook.  This lets them know what to go back and more thoroughly review after completing the program.  I appreciate that forms are included to make this journaling easy.

As noted, the appendix includes key math facts.  Additionally, there are root words/prefixes/suffixes and a motivation test to determine your students motivational personality.

I’m excited to have this program!  I have two more boys to get into college, and we will certainly use this process to help them be successful on their tests.  Scholarship money would be a boon in terms of where they want to go and how much we can be of assistance.  These test taking skills can be applied throughout their college careers as well.

The cost of the program is definitely an important factor as well.  I've considered enrolling my kids in courses that are upwards of 250+ to go to a local high school for one night a week for four weeks.  This program is cheaper at $99 for the complete DVD set, we have it at home and can review it frequently, and it's a one time cost for both of my children.  (I may buy another workbook, $19.95, so that my boys can write in them.)
One other aspect I think it excellent is the adaptability to the co-op environment. I can see this being an excellent semester long co-op experience and will mention it at ours.  The text and workbook can be purchased for $50.00.

All purchases are backed by a 100% money-back guarantee.  If you don't like your purchase, you can return it for a full refund in up to 30 days.

Watch this video to learn about what sparked Jean Burk to produce College Prep Genius:

To see reviews by other TOS Homeschool Crew members – click here.

*** I received this program free of charge as a member of TOS in exchange for my honest review.

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