Top Notch SAT and ACT Preparation Doesn't Have to Cost an Arm and a Leg (in fact, it doesn't have to cost anything!).
So admittedly, test prep isn't quite as fun a topic as some of the other things we like to cover here, but it is a reality our students must face, and one that can be facilitated through a variety of tech tools and resources. While there are many resources that charge a fee, this can be a challenge for many students and parents. I'm delighted to share this guest post from PrepFactory Founder/CEO Darin Singh, informing EmergingEdTech readers about this powerful free test prep platform. – KW
The Opportunity Gap
Over the past several decades, standardized testing has become a given for students in the United States. Students from elementary school on up now devote a significant amount of time in class and at home to preparing for standardized tests – no longer only for college-bound seniors. Since 2015, multiple states now require that all students take either the ACT or SAT.
Despite demand, top test preparation services remain cost-prohibitive and inaccessible to the majority of students – private tutoring even more so. The reality for most American families is that quality test preparation remains financially out of reach, exacerbating the opportunity gap.
We see the opportunity to disrupt the industry by bringing free, quality test prep to an unlimited number of classrooms via an accessible and affordable web platform. Best described as “Duolingo meets Khan Academy,” PrepFactory offers online content that encompasses practice tests, strategy exercises, and socially interactive games – making test prep as fun as it can be!
At PrepFactory, our goal is to take really great test prep material, put it online, and give it away for free. Rather than kids having to spend $800 to $1000 that most families don’t have on cookie-cutter test prep classes, they come to our website and get really great instruction for free.
The emerging trend for states to require that all students take one of the major standardized tests is an interesting change that’s driven teachers to seek out our site. Whereas before, teachers didn’t necessarily take an interest in how their students did on these tests, they now have a stake in the process, as states are using results to evaluate schools and teachers alike.
A lot of schools are asking teachers of other subjects to teach new test prep classes. Many teachers simply don’t have the necessary background to teach these tests. We’ve found that teachers tend to look for tools they can come back to year after year. In response to teachers’ feedback, we’ve added teacher tools to our site – which is for them as much as it is for students.
What is PrepFactory?
Users are students or teachers – who may create a class for an entire group of students on PrepFactory, where a user-friendly dashboard allows them to track progress for each student. The ability to engage effectively with both students and teachers invites unlimited opportunity.
PrepFactory features comprehensive content along with interactive social and gamification elements – all of which currently applies to test preparation for the SAT and ACT, as well as extends to middle school prep for the same tests. All content can also apply to general study, and PrepFactory plans to expand into building content for additional standardized tests as well.
Unlike other test prep resources, PrepFactory succeeds in providing a personalized experience that allows students to proceed at the best pace for them, as well as to progress with oversight. Conceived specifically for the classroom, it features separate views for teachers and students.
Interactive Test Prep
We’ve had to try some things a few different ways to get them right. Something we did this summer that’s proven to be extremely popular with both teachers and students was to move away from video-based instruction after learning that kids really don’t want to watch videos.
Instead, we moved to more of a modular format, where our content maps directly to the tests and is broken out into interactive modules. One of the benefits of this modular approach has been that it’s allowed us to take out some of the more difficult concepts (trigonometry, for instance) in order to create another version of the site that works for middle school students.
Designed as self-paced, PrepFactory includes guided instruction and interactive practice that indicates the areas a student should work on, as well as introduces social elements in the form of games that provide a break from more in depth practice sections. Practice sets and customized study paths personalize the studying experience and allow progress monitoring.
Adapting to the Classroom
The modular, interactive site also applies very well to the classroom format, where teachers are using the site to manage an entire class. The test prep class model doesn’t really support this kind of use, but PrepFactory’s classroom-friendly technology allows teachers to work with multiple students at once, all of whom start from different places and progress at different paces.
Students can choose to receive helpful hints via question breakdowns that can be used to walk them through tricky areas, or for review. Lessons are broken down into smaller elements, and can be mastered in chunks. Bite-sized lessons keep students engaged, and reinforce strategy.
Soon we’ll be rolling out an improved suite of teacher tools, which includes a dashboard that enables teachers to track individual student progress. We move very quickly and regularly release new features at PrepFactory. Next up are full-length practice exams, along with an entirely new mobile version of the site. We’re excited to keep working on improving the site!
Some Teacher Testimonials:
“This is fantastic. I think it will be a great resource for our students.” –Shawn W., Springfield, MO“I love the website. I think it is both fun and informative in a way that kids will really understand.” –Chris S., Centereach, NY
“Awesome Site. Thanks!” –Elizabeth V., Whetstone, OH
“I checked it out and it looks great! This is really completely free? We'll definitely share it with our students.” –Brooke M., Chicago, IL