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spacer all reviews > > > SAT preparation software

Kaplan Higher Score Guaranteed on the SAT, ACT & PSAT

Knowledge Adventure

Ages 14 and up

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Kaplan Higher Score Guaranteed on the SAT, ACT & PSAT Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Structured much like its antecedent, Kaplan RoadTrip for the SAT, this program is based on Kaplan's highly successful SAT preparation course. It features interactive lessons for each question type, full-length and practice tests, a customized study plan, a math reference section, math, grammar and vocabulary flashcards, review games, and admissions information. In addition, Kaplan Higher Score Guaranteed includes a wealth of helpful tidbits, from average SAT scores at various well-known colleges and universities to a list of schools with fewer than 1,000 students and more.

Users initially receive a tour of the program's content and navigation and complete a diagnostic test intended to reveal strengths and weaknesses, and facilitate development of a plan of action for approaching the software. Each subsequent practice test is analyzed, and feedback is provided on the speed and confidence with which the answers are given, in addition to their accuracy.

Lessons are narrated by the program's two interactive guides who present a realistic preview of the tests and provide multiple strategies for approaching their questions. Animation and humor at times bordering on the absurd succeed in keeping the user from napping. Secrets, tips and tricks revealed are invaluable, especially for those students who tend to do poorly on standardized tests. Review sections provide just enough information to reinforce concepts learned throughout years of schooling. Repetition is never a problem, reviews move at a comfortable pace without getting bogged down in too much detail.

An additional lesson tackles the PSAT writing section, leading the user through sample questions and clearly explaining the easiest way to complete them.

The program's weakest sections are the electronic flashcards and fast-paced drill games. The games in particular are confusing and frustrating, and after a quick trial were mostly ignored by our testers.

Finally, the basic program includes a comprehensive Admissions guide that offers a monthly planning calendar beginning with spring of Junior year, extensive financial aid information, and a search engine that allows the student to find schools that best meet personalized criteria.

The Deluxe version of the program also includes three additional disks, covering:

  • College admissions -- Newsweek's Guide to Colleges with a searchable database of over 1600 colleges and universities
  • Financial aid -- Paying for School: Information on financial aid, scholarships, etc.
  • Study skills -- Succeed in School: Tips to read faster, improve memory retention, etc.

From the outset, this program encourages the student to throw out rulebook. It notes that given a choice between a perfect student who meticulously moves through the test and carefully solves each problem, and one who "draws outside the lines," looking for patterns and using intuition, the latter is likely to achieve a higher score. Because of this, the program attempts to share unorthodox but successful strategies for tackling the tests. At the same time, it simply and clearly teaches and reviews material included.

Although our student reviewers initially scorned the lesson style, mentioning that they found it corny and too young for them, many later admitted that it was, ultimately, what kept them returning to the program. Both lesson and review sections are never dry or tedious, making time spent on the program seem less like studies and more like entertainment.

"The program made me relax," was one user's comment. "It dispelled the myths so I could approach (the test) with a confident attitude." Another student commented, "Knowing that I did well on the program's practice tests will make all the difference to me on test day."

Other reviewers were not as impressed by the program. They saw the programís attempts at humor and entertainment as a "waste of time and energy" and despised the fancy graphics, bells and whistles. "The very serious college prep student might get annoyed with this program," commented one reviewer. "It is directed to the average, typical (sometimes too stereotypical) high school student."

Ease of Use / Install
Kaplan Higher Score Guaranteed installation is simple and straightforward. Quick Time is also installed after the program first searches the hard drive for other versions and asks if they should be deleted and the process continued. Kaplan Tech Support recommends deletion of pre-existing versions, even if they have the same version number.

One SuperKids reviewer using a Hewlet Packard Pavillion was unable to access the "Vocabulary Lesson" portion of the program. A Kaplan Tech Support advisor told her that the problem involved corrupted installation caused by pre-existing files present in her HP StartUp Menu. After a lengthy process that included movement and deletion of files, the program was reinstalled. Sadly, the problem was not corrected. At this point the technician indicated that a new, bug-free version of the disk is currently in production, and promised to send one as soon as they become available (scheduled for early August 1998).

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Kaplan Higher Score Guaranteed works well for motivated students who want to relax and enjoy preparing for the SATs and arenít interested in hardcore training sessions. Gifted students, and those already equipped to intuit and use shortcuts can use the program to quickly review, while students who need to re-learn material and strategies before tackling the SATs can move through the program step-by-step and re-address areas that are more difficult. Serious students and those who feel pressured by time constraints may dislike the programís approach, and find it a waste of their time.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other SAT preparation software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1, 95 or higher, 486SX 50MHz or faster cpu, 13.5 MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM, 16 MB RAM to run with Internet browser, 640x480/256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit sound card.

Mac: System 7.0 or higher, 680040 or faster cpu, 18 MB hard drive space, 8 MB RAM, 16.5 MB RAM to run with Internet browser, 640x480/256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM , 8-bit audio.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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