Review by Patricia Monticello Kievlan, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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College Passport - SAT Edition

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Good SAT review, iffy college-search guidance

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • College & Career Prep

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
9-12
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Pros: The SAT review questions are solid; even if the scoring isn't exact, it's a nice way to practice for the real thing.

Cons: College info focuses less on academics than on damaging stereotypes, underage drinking culture.

Bottom Line: A neat concept with useful features, but the college search's tonal bent and content undermine the app's seriousness.

The college profiles are truly off-putting and inappropriate for high school students, so proceed with caution. If you do use the app, focus on the SAT prep sections, having students drill particular sections or skills. The time line feature is good, too. Talk with students in any year of high school about how there's college preparatory work to be done during each year of high school. Use the time line as a starting point for a conversation about how all the work of high school matters for the college admissions process.

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College Passport is an app designed to help high school students navigate the college admissions process in the United States. Upon creating a profile -- which users can choose to link to social media -- users select their year in school and then view a time line with upcoming milestones for the college admissions process. The home screen presents three options: "SAT Prep" includes practice multiple-choice questions, "Dream Schools" lets users search colleges and universities, and "Task Manager" offers a checklist of common tasks during the college prep and search process (such as "SAT: Select Test Date" and "College Essay Draft #1"). In the SAT Prep section, users can select a section of the test (such as "Writing" or "Math") and then select sets of questions that drill certain skills (such as "Sentence Correction Training" and "Exponents"). The app tracks answers right and wrong and time spent on each practice quiz, and it generates a projected SAT score based on those results. Students can then browse "dream schools," viewing schools that tend to accept students with similar test scores. Students can also use the "School Explorer" function to search for profiles of any college in the United States. Profiles feature statistics (such as acceptance rate, tuition, and region) and pithy one-liners and student-submitted quotes about each school. 

The app requires a consistent Internet connection for the practice questions and search features to work correctly. College Passport is only one element of developer Edupath's suite of college prep products, including one-on-one test prep and comprehensive college admissions counseling. Though the app is free, these other services have high costs.

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The SAT prep elements of the app are solid. It's nice to have a way to target particular skills and get projected scores based on performance. The time line elements are strong, too. These practical milestones for the college application process are a boon to first-generation college students, international students, or other students whose high schools might not have a strong college-going culture.

That aside, this app should not be used as a stand-alone guide to the college admissions process. The brief, user-generated profiles of colleges range from overly simplistic to downright offensive, filled with references to underage drinking and unkind stereotypes of the student bodies of campuses across the country. There's comparatively little focus on the academic offerings or quality of universities beyond cursory references to working hard (or not) -- a troubling detail for an app ostensibly created for academic development. Overall, this app would be more useful and seem more serious if its profiles had more focus on colleges' academic strengths and if its search features let students more effectively target schools that match their interests and abilities, not only their projected SAT scores. The developer's other services.such as one-on-one mentoring may offer helpful, individualized guidance, but College Passport on its own doesn't capture the nuances -- about applicants or about institutions -- that are critical to the college application process.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

There's tons of data, which makes this an appealing way to search for colleges and do SAT prep. 

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Solid progress tracking makes this a nice choice for SAT prep. It's great that kids can target particular test sections, but the irreverent college profiles are more likely to perpetuate stereotypes than inform prospective students.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The interface is straightforward, but be sure to pay attention to the gestures needed to navigate the multiple-choice questions, as it's hard to revisit the how-to after its first appearance.


Common Sense Reviewer
Patricia Monticello Kievlan Foundation/nonprofit member

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