Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Prefect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT

Title: The Perfect Score Project:  Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT
Author:  Debbie Stier
Publication Information:  Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group Random House LLC, Penguin Random House Company. 2014. 281 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as an advance uncorrected proof.

Favorite Quote:  "When I'm ninety years old and sitting on my front porch in a rocking chair, watching my great-grandchildren frolic around the yard. I'm not going to care about our scores. I may still be able to reel them off by heart, since that's the nature of the beast, but I won't care. I will remember the joy we had pursuing those scores, and the tussles we had, and the sadness we had, too."

The Perfect Score Project is part memoir and part a guide for succeeding on the SATs. Debbie Stier is a mother of two who set out to help her teenager Ethan as he readied for the entire standardized testing and college application process.

In her initial research to help Ethan, Debbie Stier was overwhelmed by the testing options and the test preparation tools available. How do you decide? How do you figure out what is going to work for your child? How do you make sense of the myriad of advice out there?

So, she decided to undertake a year-long project of preparing for and taking the SAT herself - a quest for the elusive perfect score of 2400. Some of the elements she looked into include:

  • Can your testing center impact your score?
  • How reliable are the materials of the commercial test preparation services?
  • What resources are available free of cost?
  • How do the big names in test preparation compare?
  • What would be her pick for a study strategy?

The book is an interesting mix of SAT tips and personal story. The setup of the book does a good job of distinguishing between the two. The personal story is presented as the main text. The section on SAT tips are set off by text boxes with bullets lists, bold headings, and titles. This makes it very easy to flip through the book and isolate the advice. I do wish the book had an index or list of some sort identifying the page on which a particular topic occurs. In other words, it is easy to flip through the tips, but it is challenging to find a specific one. [The galley I received does not have index; I have been told that the final print edition does have an index which will make the book much more usable.]

Having just gone through this process with my high school age child and getting set up for another go around in a year or two, I find myself nodding in agreement with the author's perspective - a mother's take on the SAT and about life with teenagers. I don't think I would ever undertake the project she did, but I did enjoy reading about hers.

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