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spacer all reviews > > > SAT preparation software

The Princeton Review Inside the SAT, PSAT & ACT Deluxe

The Learning Company

Ages 14 and up

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

Inside the SAT, PSAT, & ACT Deluxe Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Much like a new diet that promises quick and easy weight loss but eventually gets down to the fewer calories/more exercise clause, The Princeton Review Inside the SAT, PSAT & ACT Deluxe lures the user with ‘strategy is all you need’ claims, then later introduces the (groan) lesson/review part.

The program is divided into six main sections or classrooms: Intro, General Strategies, Verbal, Math, Tests, and College Counselor. Verbal and Math rooms include specific lessons for each of the subjects included on the tests, while the College Counselor is filled with useful information for the confused college applicant.

Students who progress past The Princeton Review's cynical view of the SAT are rewarded with lessons that counsel and inform. Not only do they go over the basics, but they help users strategize in useful ways. For example, students receive advice on when to use calculators and when to use scratch paper, how best to tackle analogies, ways to beef up their lexicons and more.

The College Counselor portion includes enough information to make student and parent heads spin. Virtual file drawers open to reveal extensive information about the PSAT, the SAT and the ACT. "I never understood how National Merit Semi-Finalists are chosen," was one parent reviewer’s comment. "Now I understand, and I realize why it’s important for my child to retake the PSAT as a junior."

Information about financial aid offered through The Princeton Review and Merrill Lynch is available, as are applications for Federal Stafford and Federal Plus loans. Also included is a complete paper copy of The Princeton Review’s "Paying for College Without Going Broke", by Kalman A. Chany, a resource that includes detailed information on financial aid and college costs, and covers the impact of the new Tax.

The College ‘search’ feature asks the student to define personal characteristics as well as those of his or her ideal institution and then generates a list of matching schools. Finally, a ‘Web’ button provides a user friendly link to college websites as well as other popular applicant sites. Of special interest is Apply! at, which lets students download college applications and complete them electronically.

Inside the SAT, PSAT and ACT takes a decidedly cynical approach to standardized test taking. It portrays ETS test-writers as overworked, underpaid drones, who could very well be bordering on "insanity" due to the responsibility of churning out the test problems. Conversely, they are also, devious and manipulative, delighting in ambushing students who unwittingly fall into their many traps. In short, according to the Princeton Review, these tests have nothing to do with knowledge or ability, and everything to do with winning the game.

That said, the program proceeds to instruct the student on general test taking strategies. These strategies include such basics as eliminating obviously wrong answers, avoiding easy answers on difficult questions, and taking educated guesses when necessary. Interestingly enough, in the end, the program goes on to contradict itself by encouraging the student to study vocabulary words and review verbal and math basics to best prepare for the test.

Practice makes perfect, and Inside the SAT allows the student test-taking practice in the forms of drills, which provide instant feedback on the correctness of the response, and full length tests. A reports feature also keeps track of the users progress.

SuperKids student reviewers found the lessons included with this program to be straightforward and easy to understand. They applauded the abundant interactivity of the program, commenting that the interplay between user and program helped confirm understanding of the included concepts. "The program is very clear, understandable and effective," was one reviewer’s comment. "It doesn’t waste any of your time or effort."

The negative attitude of the program was not well received by parent reviewers. They believe that teenagers tend to be disenfranchised as it is, and berating the test-writers only sets the student up to be less responsible for his or her own performance.

Stylistically, reviewers didn’t like the use of medium-colored boxes filled with text, mentioning that it made reading the text quite a strain under certain conditions.

Ease of Use / Install
Inside the SAT, PSAT & ACT installs easily on Windows 95.

Our reviewers did not encounter any difficulties with program navigation or performance.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Students looking for an effective SAT training program will appreciate the clarity and completeness of this program’s lesson and review sections. It is not, however, recommended for students who might be confused or disillusioned by its philosophy, which de-emphasizes mastering the material, and instead encourages the test-taker to "beat the test-writers at their own game."

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 95, 486 DX, 66 MHz Processor or faster, 20 MB free hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, SVGA video card supporting 256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Sound card, Optional (for ISP) 14,400 Kbps modem, additional hard disk space as required by internet service provider.

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040 or greater PowerPC, 20 MB free hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 13" color monitor with 256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, Optional (for ISP) System 7.6, 14,400 Kbps modem, additional hard disk space as required by internet provider.

Reviewed on:

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