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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Web sites, software aid students

By Kim Komando

Finding age- and grade-appropriate educational sites for students in their late teens and 20s isn't easy. Most sites are geared toward early education and middle school.

The following are sites and software that should help high schoolers and collegians:

  • Standardized tests. The ACT, SAT, GMAT and GRE are sure to put fear in the hearts of your high schooler.

    Traditional test-preparation courses, such as Kaplan (www.kaptest.com) and The Princeton Review (www.princetonreview.com), can range from $100 to well more than $2,000. They also have online classes. You won't save much online, but schedules are more flexible.

    Some Web sites provide free practice tests, tutorials and test help. However, they do not provide as much personalized help as the pay services.

    MajorTests (www.majortests.com) has a number of practice SATs and GREs. Number2 (www.number2.com) has free tests for the ACT, SAT and GRE. And 4Tests (www.4tests.com) has free online exams for a number of high school and college standardized tests.

  • Research it. Researching major papers requires trips to the library. But the library closes; the Web never does.

    Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com) and Windows Live Academic (http://academic.live.com) specialize in academic and scholarly journals. Both sites are in testing phases, but work well enough to be useful. Windows Live Academic has mostly indexed computer science and engineering journals. Google Scholar draws from a greater variety of journals.

    Using the sites is similar to a regular Web search. Type in a few keywords on your subject to get the title, author and other information on articles, as well as links to the articles.

  • Cite it. Mastering the different styles of writing for high school and college isn't easy. APA, Chicago and MLA all have different rules for formatting and citing information. And buying the various manuals to learn the styles isn't cheap.

    The fictional Dr. Abel Scribe Ph.D. (www.docstyles.com), created by graduate students, can help. The site offers free guides to APA, MLA, Chicago and other styles. Purdue also has free style guides at The Owl (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl).

    There is software available that works with your existing word processor to help create properly formatted papers. Reference Point Software Templates (www.referencepointsoftware.net, $28; Mac and Windows) works with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works and Corel WordPerfect to create APA- or MLA-style papers.

    Wizards for Students (www.wizards4word.com, $55; Windows) is a plug-in for Word that formats papers in APA, Chicago or MLA style. And Microsoft offers free Word templates in MLA style (http://office.microsoft.com).

  • Education discounts. Your high school or college bookstore is also a good source for software. The software and hardware you find there are often deeply discounted.

    Or, online stores such as Academic Superstore (www.academicsuperstore.com), Computer Products for Education (www.educational-software.com) and School World (www.logisoft.com) offer huge savings. For example, Adobe Photoshop lists for $650, but costs less than $300 for students and teachers.