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My lecturer gave me an exciting assignment. I’m to write about any educational software I know which will help students to build confidence in themselves thereby helping them to prepare for assessment examinations and also assisting in their growth mentally and otherwise. Where can I start?  Since there are so many to choose from that create innovative learning,  I felt that I should look for fun and exciting things to write about which also make learning possible for children. My first inclination was to write about the educational programmes I used as a child which have helped me tremendously.  Then I felt that I should conduct a small survey by questioning my niece and nephew for information about any interesting educational programmes they are engaged in.

While observing them, my attention was drawn to a very resourceful software which was locally created for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) students. This program was designed to assists these students with online testing in preparing them for the SEA examination-  www.pennacool.com   is loaded with resourceful information with online revision and Practice Test.  This software  was established in December 2009 and is a trial version for the 2010 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA). It follows the Syllabus as stipulated by Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Education and answers are immediately corrected and graded.  Parents can log on via their facebook.com account or just type in the Pennacool.com on the address bar and register for this free trial version. Within one working day you would automatically receive your user name and password via your email account. After a successful registration, you can access the Practice Tests in the different subject areas.

The programme is fashioned to assist children with the help they need.  They can log on and do their practice tests  in both Mathematics and Language Arts. The student can get instant feedback  on how well they have performed by getting their Grades and Percentages. If their Grades/ Percentages are unsatisfactory, they are allowed to reattempt the test but they can only do this on the date given.  There are also various topics in Mathematics ( Perimeter, Decimals, Fractions etc.) and Language Arts ( Nouns, Adjectives, Prepositions etc.) on which they can work. Exercises which can be printed are also available to help students.  Students are timed as if they are in the examination room and the programme stops automatically and evaluates the student’s ability by providing them with the Score.

Despite the benefits of the programme there are a few drawbacks such as the number of assessments is limited on a weekly basis because the student is not able to do more than one test per week in each subject area.  When you attempt to correct mistakes the answers are removed from other answered questions. Students are allowed to work within a specific time limit with little or no supervision. The students can only perform this Practice Test once a week.

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