Friday, April 30, 2010

Review: Cerebellum Company

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, we've had the opportunity this past year to review all kinds of interesting things, some more applicable right now than others.

So this review is about one of those not as applicable at the moment items.  Cerebellum Corporation creates a number of instructional DVD series.  The two I was familiar with are Standard Deviants and Light Speed.  Well, the Light Speed 'brand' has come out with a new line for preparation for Advanced Placement exams.  Right now, they have four titles in that series -- U.S. Government, US History, Writing and Chemistry.  We received the Chemistry set to review.

Now, if you aren't familiar with AP tests, these are tests taken through the College Board (that would be the folks behind the SAT and PSAT).  Doing well on the test is likely to land you some college credit, or at least let you place out of intro level courses and into more interesting material.  When working up a high school plan, Connor penned in a couple of AP tests.

What we got:  Each program (currently on sale for $11.24) consists of a DVD and a CDROM.  The DVD is about an hour long, and it covers information about the test, test-taking hints and strategies, and a quick tour of the 30 most tested topics on the exam.  "Light Speed" is a very appropriate name, as this part is 30 minutes long.  Yeah, a topic per minute, with topics including things like thermochemistry, half cell reactions, and enthalpy.  Yikes.  The presenters on the video all look to be right in that high school senior age range, and they do have an engaging presentation.

The CD-ROM includes a pdf document with an outline of the DVD, essentially, and I have to say that made it much easier to follow what was happening on-screen.  The pdf file also includes a number of worksheets, and the answers.  The worksheets contain all the question types found on the AP Exam.

What did we think?  Well, it was a little bit difficult to evaluate the effectiveness seeing as we have no family experience with the Chemistry AP Exam.  I did take the English AP Exam a few years back.  (And I received 9 college credits for it.)

But Connor and I watched the video together, and we both felt that this seemed like it would be a really nice addition to preparation for an AP test.  We'd probably use it after completing our regular coursework, when at least some of the material should sound familiar.  Then we'd do some actual AP specific preparation.  Then, shortly before the exam date, we'd watch the video again, do the digital workbook, and pray for the best.

And the price is great.  Right now, you can use the coupon code OSH20 to receive 20% off on any video product order at their website.  That brings the price down to $8.99.  I think that is a bargain

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various Light Speed AP Exam Prep DVDs at (I'll update this as soon as the blog post is up... but if you happen to have a child doing the AP Exam in mid-May or later, I think you should really consider this purchase.  So I wanted to get it posted NOW):

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Chemistry AP Exam Prep for free from the publisher.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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