Author: Tyler Kearn
You can do a lot with your cell phone these days-text message, picture message, surf the internet, check your e-mail, instant message your friends, listen to your music, play games and, yes, make phone calls. Now, it might be time to add another function to the list: With new software called “Cram,” your cell phone can help you study.
Cram is a piece of software targeted toward students from a company called SimpleLeap. Currently, Cram is only available for Blackberries (83xx, 88xx, 81xx, and 87xx series only), but SimpleLeap says that an iPhone version is “coming soon,” which should make it available to a lot more people. Still, only a very small percentage of students (though surprisingly high at Oxy) actually has an iPhone or Blackberry, and the company is limiting themselves greatly by only having their product available on those two platforms.
As for the software, it is priced at $15 and is in itself pretty simple-it allows you to create, download and take multiple-choice quizzes on your phone. When you open the program on your Blackberry, you see three things: a button to create a new quiz, a button to import quizzes and a list of the quizzes you currently have on your device.
Creating a new quiz is not complicated, but can be a tedious process on a phone. You title the quiz, set the number of questions, write the questions and for each question write up four answers and select one of them as the correct answer.Very simple, but doing this on a Blackberry Curve keyboard (8310) made this task much longer than it would have had I simply been creating a quiz for myself using a computer or even a pencil and paper. In fact, there’s nothing about this aspect of the program that you can’t do easier, faster and for free using a different method.
Importing quizzes is the more interesting aspect of the program, but at this point it is still very limited. Most of the quizzes seem to be far below the college level, but they includes topics such as vocabulary quizzes, astronomy, languages (Spanish, French, and Japanese), the periodic table, state capitals, war dates, biology, Bible verses and general knowledge.
I tried a few of them out. Taking the quizzes was simple-you just click the letter to select your answer, and at the end, it gives you your score along with all of the questions with the correct answers. Courtney Mandel (sophomore), who owned the particular Blackberry I was using, called the Cram software “really easy to use.”
The “general knowledge test” featured questions such as “what is the hottest planet?” (Venus), “what process do plants use to create food?” (photosynthesis) and “what is 4×5?” (20)-nothing that should be a serious challenge to an Oxy student, or that would be particularly helpful in one of your classes. Even more straightforward was the state capitals test: 50 questions, they give you the city, you select the state. While slightly fun (and frustrating-why can I never remember that Columbia is the capital of South Carolina?), this is nothing that you can’t do by making flashcards or finding a quiz online.
SimpleLeap says they are hoping to foster a community to make quizzes and share them with the world through their website. If they are able to do this-creating an online community is always a difficult thing to do-it could potentially make their product a thousand times more useful, as thousands of quizzes could be created covering nearly every topic. However, until they do, Cram is not the best solution for finding a quiz or test that will be particularly relevant to your classes or really be that helpful of a study aid.
At this point, Cram is a piece of software that is easy to use and does what it is supposed to do, but is not particularly useful. Creating and taking quizzes can be fun and a helpful study aid, but there are ways to do it that are less of a hassle-and are also free (if you’re looking for an online site, I suggest checking out funtrivia.com, which has thousands and thousands of user-generated quizzes). If you need, for whatever reason, to do quizzes on your phone, try Cram. Otherwise, I would look for some other study method.
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