Computers: GSCE revision with instant feedback: Janet Swift reports on educational software based on the national curriculum that can cut down exam frenzy

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The Independent Online
There are only a a few weeks to go before the start of the GCSE exams and if your household is caught up in a frenzy of revision - switch on the computer.

Over the past couple of years Europress has built up a range of secondary school programs for PC-compatible and Amiga computer systems. The latest additions are GCSE packs in French, Maths and English, each covering the two-year course leading up to the GCSE exam. At pounds 34.99 a subject, the programs are quite pricey but can prove a valuable investment.

One of the benefits of the National Curriculum is that the school syllabus and its aims and objectives are now well defined. The programs have taken advantage of this, and so are relevant both in content and methods of testing - they use the same range of techniques as the exams, with multiple choice questions, and questions that have to be written from scratch.

The best aspect of using the software is that you get instant feedback as to whether you have the right answers or not. If you are wrong, you can get help - not only the correct answer, but helpful and relevant explanation - and then try again. This is obviously important when you are revising.

The other way in which the programs succeed is in motivating study. Once sufficient points have been scored by completing tests, ADI will allow you to play one of the games included in the program. The games are slight compared to full versions of computer games, but the psychology seems to work. The games provide a diversion and are all quick to play - so not taking up too much precious revision time.

ADI refers to an alien character who is intended to act as guide to the software - he is even available to have a chat with - and provides continuity with the previous programs in the same educational range. But while he is probably popular with younger age groups, he may seem irritating, to 15 and 16-year-olds.

ADI GCSE packs for French, Maths and English

System: PC-compatible; Amiga

Publisher: Europress Software; 0625 859333.

Availability: High street retailers, mail order, superstores.

Price:

List: pounds 34.99

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