On January 6, 2011, I received an email from Russell Schaffer (Kaplan Senior Communications Manager) with this invitation. I liked the bolded/italicized section so different from other invitations to product review:
We wanted to give you and other selected writers the opportunity to review (or give a teen reader of the blog or newspaper an opportunity to review) Kaplan Test Prep’s new SAT or ACT course for free. Naturally, you or the student reviewer would have the independence to write whatever you’d like about your experiences in our course, independent of Kaplan. Perhaps part of a story on a student’s experience through the college admissions process. Kaplan’s course is the first and only test prep program to integrate into its curriculum the learning best practices of differentiated instruction (in which teachers tailor their instruction and adjust the curriculum to individual students’ needs) and blended learning (mixing different learning environments for effective reinforced learning – e.g. online and classroom). The course’s unique combination of these educational best practices and revolutionary personalization technology that set the new standard in test preparation also allows parents to track their child’s attendance, progress on each assignment, and performance on every practice exam and tested topic through on-demand parent reports.
At first, I was tempted to discount the email but then I remembered that my daughter, Aida, is going to be taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in a few months. Although she is highly motivated, her experience with Princeton Review and CollegeBoard SAT Preparation books was less than engaging.
As a parent of an SAT student, could this be an opportunity to really evaluate the program from the eyes of a teenager who is feeling the pressure to do well on the SAT? I checked with my daughter and she said she’d be happy to give it a try! We sent emails off and Aida got started on this course.
For the last few weeks, Aida has been participating in this online course which features an interactive virtual classroom, video/audio from expert teachers (such as the one shown left), polling and screensharing tools.
After listening to Aida in this podcast, I feel terrible that I didn’t know about it for her PSAT. Although she did “very good” for PSAT, she missed the National Merit Scholarship cut-off score, which was disappointing for a highly motivated person like Aida. I would definitely have put her in Kaplan PSAT prep if I’d know about the course.
Now that Aida is about 3 weeks into the online course, we’ll be chatting periodically about the different aspects of the course in future episodes:
Episode 1 – Overview and First Impressions from a Teenage SAT Prep Student
Episode 2 – Getting Started with Diagnostic Tests
Episode 3 – Finding Out What the Classes are Like
Episode 4 – Practice Work to Ensure Success
Episode 5 – Proctored Work