Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Reviewing Reg Review, Part 1

A month ago, I walked into a hotel just south of Philadelphia. I had arrived only 5 minutes late, but one of the instructors had already begun. And no wonder, for she intended to cover in exactly 8 hours the whole of geological knowledge. Those unfamiliar with Reg Review’s mission may wonder why anyone would claim to do such a thing and why anyone would pay her hundreds of dollars to attempt it. The answer is simple: she was helping prepare students for the ASBOG, a licensure exam that featured a 55% pass rate in its most recent administration. Obviously, a lot of geologists need help studying. But does Reg Review really help? And who needs it most?

Reg Review claims that its students pass at a rates that range from 85% to 99%. While it wasn’t really possible to verify this, a friend of mine vouched for Reg Review’s study guide. Since my employer was generous enough to pay for the one-day preparatory course, I decided to give it a shot.

Reg Review supplies a study guide and a booklet of practice questions as part of the course, but these are also available for $145. In addition, students are issued another set of problems to answer prior to the class. Unfortunately, I did not bother to look at any of the materials before the day of the class. Here’s a tip, folks: look at the course notes at least a week before class starts. It’ll help.

The “Course Notes” were yet another set of sample problems, arranged to provide coverage of most ASBOG subjects. These notes formed the backbone of the day, as the instructors gradually worked their way through the answers and added comments and lectures as necessary. They also provided suggestion after suggestion for further reading, far too many textbooks to actually buy or study from. However, one feature of the class struck me most forcefully: a heavy dose of fear mongering.

To hear Reg Review tell it, the ASBOG exam is composed by a queer mixture of the devious and the incompetent. Furthermore, the sample questions given on the ASBOG website are completely misleading in regards to the breadth and difficulty of the exam. Certainly, Reg Review addresses the issue by supplying more challenging problems. This leads me to wonder if Reg Review’s statistical success is due more to the determination they inspire than to the quality of their materials. I have not finished reading the main study guide, but it seems like a good review so far.

Since I plan to take the ASBOG test in March 2010, I certainly can’t render any final judgments. However, I’m certainly looking forward to writing Part 2.


  1. I passed the first half. It was not too hard. I guess I should post a description. Unfortunately, one of my references didn't arrive on time, so I had to postpone the test's second half until this coming October.