The Napoleonic advance of social networking and media on our everyday existence could not have been predicted. Facebook and Twitter speak for an entire generation and touch nearly every demographic. I suppose it was a matter of time before its reach was used in test preparation. This website, Grockit.com, is a social networking styled site that focuses around test prep games based on different sections of the standardized tests it covers. SAT was my main concern, since I do not know many teenagers and young adults who focus on the GMAT (admission for business schools) upon exiting high school.
The site is very busy with a lot of options of how to jump in. After I signed up for an account, I was taken to the “lobby,” which is the homepage for members. From there you can take the diagnostic tests; these are about 10-15 minutes of questions that give you a baseline from which to track your progress. The prep games are divided between live games that are played on teams and single games that you can play anytime. The single games are straight forward questions with the answers shown immediately. You must go back through the “review” after the game to get a full explanation of why the answers are correct and what you can do differently to get the correct answers in the future.
Progress on this site is measured through general “XP” or experience points and “GP” or Grockit points. The XP is gained through answering questions correctly and the GP is gained through helping others during the review phase of the live games and the person helped gives the helper a “star” for helping them. There are also scoreboards that change daily with who gains the most XP and GP so that you can potentially match up with them. The site is bent towards gaining “friends” to work with on a regular basis through the live games. You are able to send invites through your email address book on popular email system (Yahoo and Gmail are two options), and you gain friends who are already signed up similar to Facebook and Myspace.
The benefits of this site as a means of preparation for tests can easily be seen through the increase in actual scores for the individual testing. I, being employed in the public school system, see the major benefit being that you can sign in entire classes of kids and have them working together either in computer labs or at their homes on the testing objectives covered in the games. This site is most certainly geared towards the highly motivated self starter, but the format and ease of answering questions with constant feedback, can bring even the most unmotivated along for the ride. Another benefit is the creativity of involving Facebook, according to Farb Nivi, Grockit CEO.
“ Members can use their Facebook to connect or create to an existing Grockit account. FB-connected members can update their status to let their friends know […] they are playing in a test prep game and also to publish badges/accomplishments they earn in the game on their profile/news feed.”
One downside of the site is that there are currently only two tests they help prepare for, SAT and GMAT. There is notice on the site that MCAT (Med school), GRE (grad school), LSAT (law school), and ACT (college entrance) exams are being developed. This is a young startup company, so it looks like their other exams are not far from being developed. According to Nivi,
“We are currently developing content and working to license content in these tests and will be rolling out more tests over the next year. Our ACT group is set to go online and public in the next month or so and will also initially be free like Grockit SAT.”
What does this website mean to parents? It seems to be a safe and engaging place to offer a child who does not embrace traditional means of test prep. Most prepare with books and classes, and this site is geared to the ones that prefer World of Warcraft over the outside world. I think it is a solid product with a unique position in this crazy digital world. Being compared to traditional books and classes easily adding up to hundreds of dollars, it is an attractive alternative. All in all, Grockit fits a niche market that may see great expansion over the next several years. Plans to include the tests mentioned above and possible expansion to state-standardized testing spark my interest to keep them in the realm of possible study aids for our students. I give it a solid “good job” for being so complete about its mission and see no reason why you should not give it a try and see what happens.
On the web: Grockit.com
Chris Weber is a school liaison. He and his wife make their home in Azle, TX.