Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 134 / OCTOBER 1991 / PAGE 141

Studymate - The Grade Booster. (educational software) (evaluation)
by Len Poggiali

One commonly held educational theory states that critical aspect of learning is the development and strengthening of study skills. Capitalizing on this notion is Compu-Teach's Studymate - The Grade Booster 2.2

Studymate does not pretend to be a program that teaches study skills. It leaves that multifaceted task to David H. Griswold's How to Study, a 148-page paperback enclosed as a bonus. Essentially a test-construction kit, Study mate provides a tool to help students organize their learning, review it in many different formats, and absorb it through repetition.

The main program consists of two parts - Editing Functions and Taking a Test - both accessed via a series of keyboard-controlled menus. From the Editor menu, you may create, edit, review, print, delete, or copy a test. In addition, you can call up a disk directory that contains not only each filename but also a brief description of all exams on the disk, the style of questions they use, and who wrote them.

Taking for granted that you already know how to write a test, the documentation offers only a few tips on how to go about doing so. Fortunately, viewing some of the 75 different 20-question quizzes included on the Vocabulary Power Disk will give you ideas for framing questions, as well as help you improve your word usage.

Teachers using software for their pupils or parents generating quizzes for their children should have no trouble manipulating the Create function or thinking of ideas for tests. Likewise, bright students who need review in certain subjects will find the program easy to handle.

Slower learners, however, will be hard-pressed to locate the relevant facts and ideas and to formulate them into meaningful questions. Although the program is best employed for teaching knowledge- and comprehension-based material, to construct items for it requires higher levels of learning, such as analysis and synthesis. This might make the Create function of Studymate inaccessible to many of the very people it is trying to help.

In the right hands, the Create module may be used to produce a wide variety of tests: true/false, multiple choice, fill in the blanks, spell scrambles, missing letters, and combinations of the above. Noticeably absent are marching columns, a test format commonly used by teachers of all grades.

Each test type has its own unique options and template. For For instance, from the Multiple Choice menu you may determine the total number of responses and enter your own incorrect choices or have the program randomly assign them. After making your selections, you move to the template and fill in your first question, the correct reply, and the incorrect answers (unless randomly chosen) in the spaces provided. In this way you may create as many items as disk space allows.

After completing your exam, you may administer it either on screen or via hardcopy. If you choose the former, access the Take a Test module and then load in the file,and you're ready to go. As a test giver, the computer flags mistakes and will usually offer you a second chance. If you're still in the dark, the program supplies the correct answer. When you're done, you're told the number and percentage of correct replies and the time it took to complete your work. Then you may decide to print the results, to be retested on the items answered incorrectly, or to retake the entire examination.

If you're preparing to take a test, Studymate provides solid value at a reasonable price. It won't study for you, but it will help when you decide to crack the books.