I’ve mentioned a few times my skepticism about “Online Courses,” and I’ve received feedback ranging from “everyone learns differently,” to “maybe I’m not of the right generation.”  I am still open to a great online course experience (Grockit?), albeit slightly hesitant because of my experiences thus far.

Below is a list of examples that show why these online courses have not worked for me, and while these are specific to my current Kaplan SAT course, this is similar to what I’ve experienced with the other online courses I tried. I have to wonder, who could learn well with issues such as these?


1) SPAM: I started my online Kaplan SAT course experience with the Online Quiz Bank, and much as I enjoy reading about UFOs, I prefer my SAT work straight up.


2) Next, I moseyed over to the “award winning free Quiz Bank,” which looked promising.


3) I clicked all of the boxes, then went to get my questions, and this is how it appeared.  Now granted, it was 10 pm at night, I was tired and had had a glass of wine with dinner…..but even in the light of day I can’t read this:


4) There were excessive spacing and font issues such as those in the screenshot below that kept me craving old fashioned print books. Are your eyes comfortable reading this font? (mine are not)


5) And typos…..


6) Good font on this section of Online Course…….


7) But it turned out that you can’t get to the answers until you finish the entire (and extremely long, I might add) “quiz.” When you finally get the answers, they come without the questions.  I realize that memory starts going in your 40s, but can anyone remember question #2 by the time they finish #50?

8) You don’t receive any answers until you submit the entire, SAT length long (i.e. nearly 4 hours worth of questions) “diagnostic test.”  Personally, I prefer to do a “section” (i.e. 20-25 minutes) and then find out my answers (and solutions) right then and there.


9) The submission part of the process then took about an hour because I kept getting bumped over to some other (incorrect) part of the Kaplan website — and then my Essay was lost.


10) After finally completing the diagnostic submission process, I received an email from Kaplan saying that it would be graded and emailed to me within five days.  I felt desperate for  good old fashioned paper Kaplan books by that point where I would have found instantaneous answers.


11) 11 days later — still no diagnosis via email, as promised.  I finally went back to the Online Course to see if “my diagnosis” was on the site and just hadn’t been emailed to me, and sure enough, it was.


I could do a whole other post about how the “Online Diagnosis” worked, but I think I’ve illustrated enough frustrations for the moment to show why Online Courses haven’t worked for me.

I don’t necessarily mean to single Kaplan out, because honestly, I had similar issues with the other two online courses that I tried, which is what lead me to declare that “When It Comes to Learning, I prefer Books.”

All that said, I do learn “online,” but here’s how I *learn*:

  1. I watch videos of smart and inspiring people giving talks.
  2. I read blogs written by people I admire, and the comments.
  3. I search online for specific solutions to problems I can’t solve.

And by the way, I’m thoroughly enjoying, and I believe benefitting from, the Kaplan SAT paper books.  I will write a follow up post about what I love about the Kaplan SAT books.

Still open to “Online Courses,” but the window of “open” is getting smaller with each frustrating experience.

The SAT Yellow Brick Road

You can sign up for a FEEE series of tailored emails that will lead you step-by-step through the entire SAT process:

1) Parent Series

2) Student Series

Each series also includes links to SAT resources and articles that I highly recommend.