Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book review: The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT by Debbie Stier

This is the perfect book for me, combining two of my favorite things: memoir and the college application process. Debbie's son doesn't have the grades to get academic scholarships, she doesn't have the money to put him through college, and so she figures out his best shot is to ace the SAT and that will open another avenue of scholarships for him. But she both knows he won't do the work, and also figures she shouldn't ask him to do something she isn't willing to do herself. So over the course of a year she signs up to take the SAT every time it is offered, certain that by the end of the year she'll have the exam all figured out. And that kind of works.

Her initial plan is to try a different studying technique for each test, which isn't the best plan. Some of the methods, like the math tutoring, she really should have begun early and stuck with the entire time to see results. And switching back and forth all the time is actually not conducive to mastering any of them. She certainly did learn some tricks and tips, and her kids both did eventually begin to be interested in her project (her younger daughter was more interested than her older son from the start.) And then finally the day came for her last test. And did she get a perfect score?

For once I'm going to do a spoiler, because I don't think it's a shocker, that she doesn't. But like I said, she did get some tips and tricks and more importantly, she got her son mildly interested and got him to prepare better than he otherwise would have. So in that regard her project was a success, even without a perfect score.

Sure, this is the naval-gazing of an upper-middle-class woman who really ought to be able to send her son to college, who can get a book deal based on this idea, and who can afford the time and all the expenses associated with this project, so it's surely a first world problem. But she does acknowledge that, and there's not much she can do about her circumstances. And that said, I did enjoy it. The times she freaked out or stressed out, not so much, but luckily those were few. Overall, it was nice to read about someone else going through that kind of stress, but not experience it myself. In fact, I am such a nut job, that she almost inspired me to retake the SAT myself. But not quite.

I borrowed this book from a friend.

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