My SAT Coach: With the Princeton Review is the newest game in the “My Coach” series from Ubisoft for the Nintendo DS handheld system.
The “Coach” series of games are aimed at “developing projects that make people feel that playing games is worth their while, allowing them to spend quality time with family and friends, learn a new skill, or improve their daily lives.” Naturally, these games fall in the now popular and expected “Brain Training” genre (otherwise known as Educational games) and play similarly to Brain Age or Brain Age 2. And just like those games, these games are meant to teach or help you learn, and in that way are as much a tool as they are a game. Although the Coach series, like Brain Age, does it in a fun way.
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The long list of previously released games in the “My Coach” series include: My French Coach, My French Coach Level 2 – Intermediate, My Spanish Coach (Also on PSP), My Spanish Coach Level 2 – Intermediate, My Word Coach (Also on Wii), My Weight-Loss Coach (My Health Coach – Manage Your Weight in Europe), My Chinese Coach and My Japanese Coach. Upcoming titles include My Fun Facts Coach (release date is Nov. 18th, 2008), My Stop Smoking Coach – With Allen Car (release date is November 11, 2008), My Life Coach (To be Announced) and My Fitness Coach for Wii (release date is December 9, 2008).
And now we have My SAT Coach! PHEW! That’s a lot of coaches!
Also On: None
Release Date: September 23rd, 2008 (USA)
Genre: Educational, Brain Training, Learning
Players: Single Player
Online Support: No
Save: Saves Automatically (No “files”, high scores are kept)
Developer: Ubisoft Casual Division
Rating: E for Everyone (Mild Language)
My SAT Coach was designed to help people learn and/or improve their test scores for the SAT. As the game states: “Many people think that the SAT tests intelligence, but they’re wrong: The SAT tests how good you are at taking the SAT, period! So, ready to learn how to crack the SAT?”
But first, some history. SAT is a standardized college test for admission into American colleges in the United States.
The SAT was introduced in 1901 but has changed its scoring system and name several times throughout the decades. Originally the test stood for “Scholastic Aptitude Test and then later as “Scholastic Assessment Test”. Today it is known as the “SAT Reasoning Test” and is owned, developed and published by the College Board, which is a non-profit organization. The ETS (Educational Testing Service) that once developed, scored and published the SAT, now administers the exam.
The test currently is administered for about four hours and costs $45 ($71 Internationally), which excludes late fees. Possible scores for the current SAT range from 600 to 2400 and combine test results from three 800-point sections. These sections are Critical Reading, Writing and Math. Sub-sections of the test are scored separately.
Here is the key features list for My SAT Coach: With the Princeton Review:
* Build Knowledge – Practice key skills and subjects in all the different subsections of the SAT test or gauge your knowledge by taking a sample test from The Princeton Review
* Follow-Up – Track your overall progress in all SAT topics including arithmetic, geometry, algebra, critical reading, writing and vocabulary
* Prepare – Engage in a series of mini-games that will help you increase your level of judgment, confidence and time management – everything you need to boost your SAT score. Learn about helpful methods and mental approaches to reduce stress and ensure you are physically and mentally prepared
* Mini-Game Drills – Train yourself in mathematics to elude the tricks of the SAT. Train yourself in vocabulary and grammar. Learn helpful methods to improve time management and reduce stress
* Personal Follow-Up – Track your progress in quizzes and follow recommendations to boost your strengths and minimize your weaknesses
When you first fire up the game, you will view a “Presentation Sequence” before you gain access to the full game. Once you have taken it once, you will then be able to select any of the game’s many sections after booting the game. The game will track your results, and you can view them under the Graphs section, which gives you a physical representation of how well you are doing. Note that the game will automatically save after any selection or test you complete.
The game is entirely stylus-controlled and before each section you are shown a few slides that tell you how to play. The game’s modes are broken down into training sections for each part of the SAT Proper, then the option to take the ENTIRE SAT test, followed by six mini-games that allow you to practice in a matter of minutes. To pause and/or Exit from any of the games simply touch the “pause” button on the touch-screen.
An interview with the Ubisoft Casual developers as they discuss the Coach game series.
There are ten modes, or sections, in My SAT Coach. Here is a breakdown of each followed by a description and my thoughts:
CRITICAL READING – Quiz yourself on Sentence Completion and Passage-Based questions.
In sentence completion you are given a paragraph on the top-screen with several multiple choice answers on the bottom. You must select the answer that best fits the blanks in the paragraph by filling in (or tapping, you can change via Options) the bubble next to your answer. If you think an answer is wrong, you can tap the eraser tool to erase the bubble and try again. When you think you’ve selected the right answer, press the forward button to go onto the next question. You can use the forward and back buttons to move between questions. There are given 10 questions in total. When you are finished hit the red button, you are then taken to the results screen and can also see the answer to each question. This and the next two sections are not timed, meaning you are given as long as you like to complete the quiz, however the score you receive will be better the quicker you finish. In this and the following two sections you are also given some extra tools to help you. By tapping the wrench icon, you can select the “writing pad” tool (which allows you to scribble anything you want), the Calculator tool and a Formulas tool.
MATHEMATICS – All the Math quizzes you need are located here.
The Math section is divided up into four sections, you can play whichever you like. They are: Arithmetic, Basic Algebra, Geometry and Miscellaneous. These play out the same as above except, of course, with math questions instead.
WRITING – If you need to crack the writing portion of the SAT, this is your category.
The Writing portion is divided into three sections: Sentence Errors, Improving Sentences and Improving Paragraphs. As above, you can play whichever you like. The sections are pretty self-explanatory.
TAKE THE SAT TEST – Do the real thing! The SAT takes 3 hours and 45 minutes, but don’t worry, My SAT Coach lets you save between sections.
This section is self-explanatory, if you think you got what it takes, then by all means, test your true knowledge with the full SAT exam!
POSITIVE/NEGATIVE – Are you an expert at identifying positive or negative words? Play this game and you’ll be on your way to owning the Critical Reading section! In Positive/Negative, you have to identify whether each word has a positive or a negative connotation. If the word is positive, touch the plus button; If it is negative, touch the minus button.
This is my favorite mini-game of the bunch. In this game, a total of 10 words pop up onto the screen, one by one, and you have to click either the big positive or negative button on the touch-screen for each word (only one comes up at a time). The goal is to do so as quickly as possible, because a time bar on the left-hand of the screen ticks down with each second. The longer you take, the less points you will accrue at the end. This is my favorite game because of its rapid-fire pace. If you get good you’ll literally be able to select the correct answer within nanoseconds of it popping up on the screen. And since it’s only ten words, you’ll be over with the mini-game in minutes. Thus it’s a great game to play when you are short on time, as you can quickly give it a few goes within minutes. And as the description says, this is game is great for helping you identify whether words or positive or negative for when you take the Critical Reading test.
MATH ACE – Think quickly in this mini-game to conquer the Math section’s logic problems.
This game is the same as Positive/Negative but with Math problems. The problems can be quite complex as well, making this a hard section if you aren’t already good at math. You answer the questions via multiple choice.
ALGEBRA BLITZ – The faster you can solve these equations, the more time you’ll have for the rest of the Math section!
Ditto for the Algebra Blitz mini-game as with the Math Ace mini-game. Like the above, the game times you to answer the question as quickly as possible via several multiple choice answers.
ELIMINATION – Life, and more importantly, the SAT, are all about eliminating distractions in order to get the right answer.
Like with all the above games, this game is also timed, but is much different than the above. In Elimination, you are given a group of multiple choice answers and are told to eliminate all the ones you think are wrong, until the right answer is the only one left. This mini-game will also throw out questions from all aspects of the SAT, including Math, Critical Reading and Writing.
GRAMMER CRACKER – Zero in on the grammatical error in each of these sentences and you’re on your way to a better Writing section score. In Grammer Cracker, after identifying the error in the sentence, drag and drop the answer choice that describes the error onto the answer field.
This game is timed like all the others. The difference here is that you are given a paragraph, with part of it highlighted in red. You then must answer (by selecting the right answer and dragging it to the “answer box” at the bottom of the screen) whether the error comes in the form of: Verb Tense, Idioms, Subject Verb Agreement, False Comparison or “No Error”.
DEFINITION DECODER – Master this mini-game and Critical Reading won’t stand a chance against your definition decoding skills!
This is my second favorite mini-game. Like all of the above, this one is timed. In this game multiple word-definitions will pop-up one by one, you then must select from two options which word the definition is describing. This is another mode that I became very quick at and had a lot of fun with.
FUN FACTOR: 7.0
This is a hard game to review in many ways because your opinion of it well depend on what you are looking for in a DS game, or in a “edutainment” game that’s more about education than it is gaming. If you are the type of person who enjoys brain teasers, reasoning skills, problem solving, learning and improving test scores, then this is the game for you. And you may even want to add .5 or a whole point to my score. The reason is because this game is satisfactory for people who are looking for what it offers. However, if you just go into the game not expecting difficult college-level questions, then you may be in for a shock. The game’s biggest knock is that it doesn’t actually tell you how to solve problems. So if you don’t know any Algebra, then you are screwed in the Algebra section, as it doesn’t tell you how to do Algebra, it expects you to already know how to do so. Even though it will tell you the right answers to questions. But as a game who’s sole focus is to improve your SAT knowledge and ability, then it’s definitely a good product that will be serviceable in that regard.
Note: Since this is simply a brain training/education/learning game, there is really no reason to judge it with the scores that you would give to a normal video game. Graphically the game is simply offering you questions, and it does its job. The menus are unobtrusive and aren’t confusing. Musically the game has one or two tracks that play throughout the whole game, but it’s not necessarily a bad one. The game’s replay value will end when you have answered all the questions, since the game doesn’t tell you how many questions it contains, it’s hard to come to a conclusion on this subject. However I will say that I did see a few repeats in my playtime with the title, which doesn’t bold well. But once again, like a physical trivia game, you will eventually see all the cards, or in this case questions, but that is to be expected going in. So I won’t knock the game for it.