My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A book true to its name - uncovers some of the facts about SAT exam taken by 3 million students world wide. Author is a single mom with 2 kids. She works in book publishing industry and is an avid and a speed reader. She wanted to inspire her elder son Ethan by taking the SAT exam herself. A good SAT score is also a pre-requisite to getting scholarship. Being a single mom, author decides it was important that her son does well in SAT exam and be able to get some scholarship and admission to a good college. So she starts the perfect score project and she sets out to write a book on her experiences of taking the SAT exam in the year 2011. SAT exams are held 7 times in a year. She takes all 7 of those exams starting in January 2011. In the process she discovers other moms who were like her and did not consider it an oddity that she was taking SAT exam at the age of 47, just so she can inspire and work with her son to take it one day and do well in his exam. She reads several of the prep books for SAT exam on the market - from Kaplan (which was the earliest of its kind to come in the market), Princeton Review (which came next) and others. She concludes that the original material by the college board was the only good source to prepare with. The other prep books cannot get the same licensed material for the passages in the exam as college board can so they generally get some free material published ages ago (as such material won't have copyright restrictions) and this makes the exams in the prep books harder than the actual SAT exam. She also emphasizes on the use of paper and pencil to write the exam so one can practice with filling the circles (SAT exams are still conducted on paper as of this writing). Author tries different tutors for critical reading, grammar and math. She did up her score with all her attempts but still could not get a perfect score of 800 in any of the sections. She mentions that it is vain to invest too much time in preparing for essay writing as there is no guarantee if that will fetch a 12 marks instead of more commonly gotten 9 or 10. Instead students should focus more on math and answering critical reading comprehension questions correctly. Likewise she also mentions that preparing for vocabulary with the most frequently asked words for SAT should suffice and one will be wise to not put too much time in trying to learn a dictionary or learn advanced words or get vocabulary building books. There is not too much to be gained from such pursuits. SAT exams generally test the knowledge of vocabulary from the limited set of oft repeated words that appeared in the previous SAT exams. Another thing she mentions was her son became motivated to do well in his SAT exam after having visited college campus in the Spring of his Junior year. But on hindsight author feels it was too late and she should have taken her son earlier to visit college campuses. Another thing author learned was that skill at Math is not built overnight. In her final attempt she could get 560 out of 800 in math. She could not get beyond it as not that she did not know the answers but she was not fast enough in math. She says that Kumon is a worthwhile approach to practice math from younger years so one can build good speed with good understanding of math. Also she thinks the timed tests in Kumon are also great help in preparing students for SAT exam. She also mentions of some important prep websites that she discovered:
http://thecriticalreader.com/ - by Erica Meltzer who was also author's tutor.
https://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com/ - by author's friend Catherine Johnson who was going to co-author the book and is also a mom like the author who took SAT herself.
https://www.erikthered.com - a good site to practice math
http://perfectscoreproject.com/ - this is author's website for this book.
I liked the interview between author and her son towards the end of the book. Author asks her son if he was at all inspired by her efforts and to which her son does say that he was and it meant a lot to him to have his mother work with him and be able to guide him during his preparations. Ethan wrote the exam twice and could up his score by 30 marks in his final attempt. This book is recommended for parents who want to learn about the exam so they can help their kids in the right time. Remember, higher SAT score also means good college and good scholarship.
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