November 20, 1995 in City

Practice For Sats On The Web Study Guide For Standardized Test Available On The Internet

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Pardner Wynn’s a pencil head, and so are his co-workers - No. 2 pencil heads, to be precise.

Their Spokane company’s new on-line program tries to help high school students worldwide master the Scholastic Assessment Test, the standardized test required by most colleges. Although the site has serious goals, it has a frivolous side as well.

Pictures of Wynn and his half-dozen co-workers feature them wearing traditional professional clothing and … accessories.

“We put a little No. 2 pencil sticking through everybody’s heads, just to be cute,” Wynn said.

Wynn, president of Stanford Testing Systems north of Spokane, has been selling his program to school districts for $800 a pop. In September, he decided to put the program on-line so students could get a taste for free.

Wynn isn’t nervous about losing business to the on-line service. He said schools still will buy his product because it’s more convenient on a computer network than on-line.

Some probably won’t buy. One day last month, 40 students from a school in Oregon all logged on to the service at the same time on the Internet.

Wynn said he doesn’t mind. He said he just wants students to learn what the program can do. The Internet is the best way to send his message, Wynn said.

“It’s like a really big slingshot,” he said. “It goes all over the world.”

The message is from a pretty small company, run right now out of the basement of Wynn’s home. Powerful computers are crammed in back rooms, near a playroom for Wynn’s children that features a smaller computer, a drawing board and a toy alligator.

“Don’t say how small we are,” Wynn said. “I don’t want my competition to know how dinky we are.”

But size isn’t everything, except in the SAT, where size often is measured in angles and equations.

This program is supposed to be able to raise SAT scores by a chunk, between 100 and 200 points.

In October, the new site was hit an average of 10,000 times a day. That’s not close to the top sites on the Internet, but for sweating teenagers nervous about test scores, it’s pretty good. More than 1.4 million visits have been paid to the service.

About 10 students a week have sent electronic mail to the company about the testing service.

The program requires students first to fill out a practice test, and then it identifies weaknesses to work on.

Teenagers can focus in on minute problems: triangles, rectangles and reading comprehension. There are 47 skill lessons and 700 practice questions on-line.

Students at West Valley High School have been using the testing service for years, after the district purchased the company’s disks.

“It gives them the ability to know specifically where they’re having problems,” said Nancy Cartwright, who teaches creatively gifted students at West Valley.

Brian Boothe, a junior at West Valley, studied the program his freshman year. He recommended the on-line version to students looking for help.

“It would be a great help,” Boothe said. “It just prepares you for the whole thing, which can be very unnerving.”

Boothe scored 1,200 out of 1,600 possible points on the tutorial. He took the pre-SAT in October and is waiting for his scores.

Wynn scored 1,310, when he took the test before college.

“I took it cold turkey as a sophomore and did fairly well,” Wynn said. “I’m one of those people who tests well.”

And wears a pencil with ease.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: Staff writer Kim Barker can be reached on e-mail at kimb@spokesman.com.

This sidebar appeared with the story: WEB The service can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.testprep.com. For students without full graphical access to the Internet, an electronic-mail SAT analysis service is available by sending mail to scoreinfo@testprep.com.

Staff writer Kim Barker can be reached on e-mail at kimb@spokesman.com.

This sidebar appeared with the story: WEB The service can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.testprep.com. For students without full graphical access to the Internet, an electronic-mail SAT analysis service is available by sending mail to scoreinfo@testprep.com.

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