Monday, January 7, 2013

Study material review: Barron's ACT flashcards

Save your money.  Pass up Barron's ACT flashcards.

It looks impressive from the outside.  There are 400 cards in a sturdy box "to help you achieve a higher score."  Your first clue that this may not be worth the $17 is the statement, "A great study aid when used in tandem with Barron's ACT test pep guide,..." It reminds me of reading the cereal box and seeing, "healthy as part of a complete breakfast" and then a photo showing an enormous breakfast that would be even healthier if you left out the cereal.

The problem is that they didn't make very good decisions regarding what to put on the cards. Typically one would want to have flashcards of definitions or formulas. There are plenty of candidates for ACT study. However, the vast majority of these cards are either "strategies" or multiple choice questions with the correct answer on the other side.

For example, the math section comprises about 1/3 of the deck. First, it's hard to imagine what one would put on over 100 flashcards (the deck I've made for my students has about 40). Still, the ACT expects you to know quite a number of algebra and geometry formulas. Unfortunately, there are no "formulas" cards. There are a few formulas included in the "strategies" cards, but the formula is given on the front of the card along with a specific problem that uses the formula. It is the answer to the problem that appears on the reverse of the card.

In short, the only really nice thing about this flashcard deck is the box it came in.

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