March 23, 2010

SAT Prep Gone Wild

by Liz Dwyer, originally published on 2/23 on the Good website

Only wealthy kids are lucky enough to get primed for their SATs with a formal prep course, right? Not anymore. The online social enterprise I Need A Pencil (INAP) is leveling the playing field for students from all economic backgrounds. Founded by Harvard junior Jason Shah, INAP targets low-income students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to college advice, online lessons, mentors, or 24/7 email support– and unlike Kaplan and Princeton Review, it’s all free. “Families shouldn’t have to spend the equivalent of a college classes’ tuition just to get ready to take the SAT,” says Shah…

Since launching in 2007, over 30,000 high school students from families with an average income of $40-80,000 have prepared for the SAT using INAP’s program. Like Princeton Review and Kaplan, INAP users begin by taking an SAT practice test. The site then creates an estimated SAT score as a baseline starting point and provides users with areas of content strength and weakness.

INAP users get 60 custom lessons tailored to academic weaknesses, and an unlimited number of custom SAT questions and practice tests. In comparison, Shah says Kaplan’s SAT Online program offers 30 lessons for $399 with only four practice tests. The Princeton Review’s SAT Live Online costs $699 for 20-30 hours of tutoring with four practice tests. Shah is critical of the prices. “Charging so much puts SAT prep out of most families’ reach. What are we saying?” he asks, “That only rich kids deserve to be prepared for the SAT?”

The site’s beginnings stem from Shah’s 2005 visit to his sister’s sixth-grade Teach For America classroom in West Philadelphia. “One student asked me three times in a half hour how to spell the word ball,” he says. When the kids talked about going to college, Shah, who was only a high school sophomore at the time, couldn’t imagine how they’d be able to score high enough on the SAT to be accepted anywhere.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Community,Distance Learning,Free Programs/Software,Technology,Tutoring Practices

June 30, 2009

Tutoring Tools: 50 Free Resources To Improve Writing Skills

Originally published in Smashing Magazine on 6/28/09

Effective writing skills are to a writer what petrol is to a car. Like the petrol and car relationship, without solid skills writers cannot move ahead. These skills don’t come overnight, and they require patience and determination. You have to work smart and hard to acquire them. Only with experience, you can enter the realm of effective, always-in-demand writers.

Of course, effective writing requires a good command of the language in which you write or want to write. Once you have that command, you need to learn some tips and tricks so that you can have an edge over others in this hard-to-succeed world of writers. There are some gifted writers, granted. But gifted writers also need to polish their skills frequently in order to stay ahead of competition and earn their livelihood.

We collected over 50 useful and practical tools and resources that will help you to improve your writing skills. You will find copywriting blogs, dictionaries, references, teaching classes, articles, tools as well as related articles from other blogs. Something is missing? Please let us know in the comments to this post!

1. Grammar, Punctuation & Co.

Ultimate Style: The Rules Of Writing

The web’s ultimate guide to grammar provides a database of topics and an easy-to-search A-Z list of common questions (via)

Use English Punctuation Correctly
A quick and useful crash course in English punctuation.

Click here for 48 more resources!

Filed under: Free Programs/Software,Study Tools

September 25, 2008

Brain Games for Tutors and Their Students

Originally published on downloadsquad.

The folks at have created an interesting variety of "fun games" or "brain games" that anyone can play for free.

The fun games offer sudoku, word search, mah jongg, and a fun little thing called Spliterature. In Spliterature you are given a jumbled batch of letters and you have to create two words that fit into a certain category. And you have to do it as fast as you can. The word search is extrememly easy until you get to the bonus round. Then you have a category but no word list and must search for words you think might fit the category.

The brain games page has just as many fun choices which supposedly sharpen your memory and you mind. It’s not going to help any of us do Jedi mind tricks any time soon but, the games are fun. You can choose from Street of Dreams where you have to match words into categories – simple until some of the categories are hidden from you.

To read more about these games click on this link.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Free Programs/Software,Technology,Training/Education

September 15, 2008

Top 20 Online Learning Games

Originally published in the GlobalScholar Blog on 09/13/08 by Kim

Editor’s Note: For a description of the games themselves and the chance to vote on your favorites, go to the post by Larry Ferlazzo Kim’s post is based on.

One of the best ways to learn is through games. Just as young children learn through play, older children can learn through games where they are challenged creatively, visually and intellectually.

Apart from GlobalScholar’s Online Math Bingo, here is a list of the top 20 online learning games of 2008, as listed by Larry Ferlazzo.


Filed under: Free Programs/Software,Technology,TechNotes

August 31, 2008

Free Tutoring Tool: Interactive “Guide to Grammar and Writing”

Thanks to English Study Materials for the following description:

Guide to Grammar and Writing is sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation. This excellent site is a comprehensive guide to English grammar and the process of writing in English.


  • Thorough coverage of writing and composition at word/sentence level, paragraph level and essay/research paper level
  • Full discussion of the writing process, structural considerations and patterns of organization
  • Detailed guides to various types of writing such as narration/description, comparison/contrast, classification/analysis, cause/effect, definition, evaluation, argument, literary writing and research papers
  • Interactive quizzes and test for self-study review
  • Sample essays with comments and links to further reading
  • A huge archive of answers to the most common questions about English grammar and usage
  • Supplementary materials including PowerPoint presentations and sample letters, memos, resumes and research papers in PDF format

Site URL:


Filed under: Free Programs/Software,Technology

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