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Pre-Algebra Solved! 2005 is designed to help students and parents practice the basic concepts underlying algebra, including scientific notation, means and averages, angles, theorems, and graphing equations. Pre-Algebra Solved! is not a game masquerading as an educational program. Instead, it is a problem solving tool.
The program opens with a table of contents, listing various problem categories. Selecting a category takes the user to a blank sheet of paper. Now what?? Clicking on the Bagatrix wizard icon generates a simple instructional prompt, telling the user what type of input the program is expecting - like, "type in a number", or "fill in the boxes". Users can see sample problems, one at a time for each topic, or simply enter the equation they wish to solve and have the program produce a step-by-step answer.
Pre-Algebra Solved! does exactly what the title claims it can do; it solves pre-algebra problems. The program works with students to show them many of the basic skills taught in pre-algebra. The program shows each step and provides a basic explanation for each. However, the program may not give all the assistance that a student requires. For example, terms are not always defined, and common rules are not cited, potentially leading to confusion. Furthermore, the program allows a student to cheat on many homework assignments - and teachers would have no way of knowing because the program shows every step in solving a problem, leaving no trace of this extra help. In additon to sample problems and a problem solving capability, Pre-Algebra Solved! has practice tests which can be printed or taken and corrected on the computer.
This is not a fun program, nor is it intended to be. Rather, it is a tool - a homework helper. Users should not anticipate a game or edutainment experience here; just a functional backup for their math teacher and textbook.
Though Pre-Algebra Solved! didn't score highly on kid appeal with our student reviewers, it may be more welcomed by parents and teachers. Parents could use the program to help their child with a pre-algebra problem if they are stumped. Teachers might find the practice tests to be beneficial for testing what the students were learning in class. Pre-Algebra Solved! might work well in some classroom environments, remembering that students may use the program to cheat on assignments instead of doing their own work.
Pre-Algebra Solved! does not require a time-consuming installation process. Users did not encounter any difficulties during the installation and said that it was a quick and easy task.
Our reviewers were initially frustrated by the apparent lack of an instruction manual, but after some searching, one was found under the Help tab on the main toolbar, listed somewhat inconspicuously under the name "Help Topics." Program navigation, while initially confusing, was simple once understood. Better instruction for new users would help.
Pre-Algebra Solved! is a program that may be worth having as a backup to help with pre-algebra related questions. It should not be used as a precursor to prepare a student for a pre-algebra course, but instead should be used to assist the student user during their pre-algebra course if they are struggling and don't have easy access to a teacher or other knowledgable resource.
PC: Windows 95/98/2000/NT/XP, Pentium 233 or faster cpu, 32 MB RAM, 256-color 800x600 display, CD-ROM drive .return to top of page
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