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The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  421 ratings  ·  136 reviews
The Perfect Score Project is an indispensable guide to acing the SAT – as well as the affecting story of a single mom’s quest to light a fire under her teenage son.

It all began as an attempt by Debbie Stier to help her high-school age son, Ethan, who would shortly be studying for the SAT. Aware that Ethan was a typical teenager (i.e., completely uninterested in any test)
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Harmony (first published February 19th 2013)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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Karen Korb
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts On The Book: The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier is a wonderful book. It is only 281 pages that are broken down into 20 chapters filled with SAT prep information wrapped in the true story of a mom who tries to get her son to do his very best and not settle. As a high school teacher, who teaches students who take the SAT it was a story that grabbed me from the start. It is an imformative, yet easy to read book. I loved the boxes in each chapter that contained nuggets to enable t ...more
Jan Burt
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sat, collegeprep
The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier is a fascinating book (borne out of a fascinating plan!) - 281 pages, 20 chapters of SAT prep information wrapped in the true story of a mom who took the SAT seven times while working to encourage her son to do his best rather then settling for mediocrity. Is that novel, or what?!? You don't have the opportunity to read about this type of undertaking every day; needless to say, I was very interested in Debbie's story.

The Perfect Score Project is an infor
Jennifer Clausen-greene
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing

With my daughter about to start High School and wanting to prepare for the ACT and SAT’s I knew this was going to be the perfect book to read. There is so much material out there for kids to sort through when preparing to take these tests I have wished on several occasions if I only I knew someone that could simply the process and let me know what does and does not work in the real world of taking these tests-now I have that person. I was blown away that Debbie took so many tests (7) just to hel
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Rating: 3.5/5 (Advance Copy)

Who knew preparing for the SAT could be so...interesting?

In an attempt to make up for her son's less-than-ideal grades and extracurriculars, Debbie Stier has made it her mission to find the best preparation methods for the SAT to maximize her son's score. Her discovery method? Taking the SAT herself. 7 times. In one year. Using a different test prep method each month. Fun!

To be honest, I wasn't particularly excited to start reading this book. As a high schooler who ha
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Debbie Stier was not a student herself when she started to study for the SAT. She was a mom who cared to help her son prepare for this test. She was looking for the best SAT test prep techniques. She tried taking this test... 7! times before she succeeded. So now she is sharing her success with all of us. There are even secrets of snacking in this book, there are the snacks that the author found to be the most effective in warding off hunger and boosting energy. And of course you can find out ho ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cassandra's Review- I know that from a teen's perspective SAT's are make it or break it. I only wish that there was a great book like this one out on the market when I was taking mine. I loved connecting with the author through the book and sharing in on the twists and turns that were included yo keep me interested. I would recommend to pick up a copy for you or a loved one.

I received a free copy of this book from blogging for books
Nov 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: r-first-reads
Review first published on my blog:

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 goin
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
When I started this book, I couldn't believe how similar the author's situation was to my own. She had a 10th grade son who was a classic underachiever. His grades were brought down by mishaps like a botched test or forgetting to turn in a homework assignment. Her son sounded a lot like my son Michael, who is a high school sophomore and is content with his grades, doesn't go for the extra credit on a test and who instead of turning in his homework will leave it wadded up in his pants pocket, whi ...more
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I am long past ever taking the SAT, and I hope to never again. However, this story sounded fascinating, and it didn't disappoint. I loved the ending for the reality of it. I didn't expect it to be as much of a story of her family as a story of her personal experience and growth, and I think it was much stronger for including all those relationships.
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Here's a non boring book for those who want help with their SAT scores. Very enjoyable. :)
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a complete and exceedingly entertaining surprise! My own experience with the SAT was scarring and traumatic. I definitely had reservations about reading a book that would take me back to that disappointing experience. But from the beginning I was easily swept up by the author’s determination to dispel the mysticism that adds to the test’s enormous intimidation. Debbie approached the goal of getting a perfect score with the belief that consistent and methodical hard work can make it ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy of this book from the author:

Wow! This book kept me up at night! I know that is strange to say about a book like this, but I found it to be inspirational, informative and easy to relate to. I am the mother of a sophomore in college, and a sophomore in high school. When my older child took the SAT, I really didn't have much to do with it. She went to a preparation course offered by the school district, but that was pretty much the extent of her test prep. Now, as my sec
Nancy Kennedy
Jan 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Debbie Stier took the dreaded SAT as an adult. Not once, not twice -- but seven times! Debbie's teens were hurtling toward their date with this fearsome test when she embarked on a quest to uncover the most effective ways to study for the test and to improve your score over time. What better way than to be your own guinea pig!

Debbie's a cheerful test taker and a creative student. At one point, she makes her kitchen into a "wall sheet" of SAT scribbles, actually writing in a rainbow of brightly c
Kristin Hiemstra
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a guidance counselor in a school that regularly produces over 20 National Merit Finalist (kids testing in the top 99.5%) I can say that author's advice parrots everything I've heard from these kids about preparing for the SAT. As a parent this is a must read because it gives you a frame of reference for understanding how to approach this test. The author took it 7 times for research purposes. She tells you exactly what needs to be done to get a perfect score. One thing you need is a "long run ...more
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

I loved this book. The author started the project as a way to learn the best SAT test prep techniques so she could help her son. In the process she tried a variety of methods and even took the SATs seven times. The book provides many useful tips for students who will be taking (or retaking) the tests. The book is a well-written, interesting read.
Oct 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: education
I'm a mom who, like Debbie Stier, is in the midst of helping prepare her child to take the SAT. I thought I was a tiger mom, but relative to Ms. Stier, I'm a pussycat.

Ms. Stier took the SAT seven different times over the course of the year, using different test-preparation methods, in an attempt to determine the best preparation for her son. She judged the methods by how her scores changed over time.

Ah, there's the rub. While this book is full of helpful tips, presented in a much more engaging
Jennifer Haveman
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As an English tutor for high school students and as a parent with a daughter who will take the SAT in the next year, I’ve had some experience slogging through various SAT prep resources. I live in an area where parents are willing to pay hundreds—sometimes more than a thousand—dollars to intensive SAT-Prep companies, and I worry that I’m not giving my daughter the best possible advantage by not shelling out some serious cash to prepare her for THE TEST. Debbie Stier’s book has helped me get pers ...more
J. Boo
"The Perfect Score Project" is an excellent book on prepping for the SAT. Not so much for the specific details of whether you should bubble in choice A or C, or reminding you how to find X given that its square root is twice Y, but rather the book shows you the way you should, in general, go about preparing for the hybrid achievement/aptitude tests characterized by the SAT. The book is structured as half memoir and half knowledge transfer. Steier, in order to motivate her son, spent a year tryin ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Another in the alarming new genre of obsessive helicopter parenting. Somebody needs to write a book about a mom or dad who is fine with their normal kid getting Bs and Cs, who doesn't obsess about whether the kid takes a test on a small desk or a big desk or gets into an Ivy, and who doesn't view their kids' scholastic achievements as reflections on themselves. I will buy nine copies.
Amy Delmanto
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Here is the description of the book from the editor:

I think you’ll find this book hard to put down
even if you haven’t reflected much lately on standardized
tests or worried how they may affect the students in your life.

In The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT,
Debbie Stier has skillfully embedded invaluable information and advice within a compelling personal narrative of a devoted and loving mother striving to relate to her teenage kids.

The book probes deep into a ritual
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full review at

I am a fiction girl who hasn’t taken a standardized test since the LSAT in 1991. My kids are too young for me to be worried about the SAT yet, which they won’t take for another 7 years. But when Debbie Stier’s The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering The Secrets of the SAT arrived in the mail, I knew I wanted to read it, right away. I had met Debbie at a conference a few years ago and learned about the project and its accompanying blog, and was
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"The Perfect Score Project: One Mother's Journey to Uncover the Secrets of the SAT" was written by Debbie Stier, and I think she and I could be friends in real life. We're the same age, and we are both overachievers who jump into things with gusto. Inspired by wanting to help her ADHD son with the SAT, Debbie began a project in which she took the well-known college entrance test seven times in a single year, in addition to testing out several test-prep methods.

I found this book fascinating -- it
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Obviously this book will be of greatest interest to parents and students with the SAT in their future. For them, it is indispensable.

Hoping to inspire her underachieving son to take preparing for the SAT seriously, a mother faced the challenge seven times over the course of a year. In the process she experimented with several prep programs, books, and tutors. She generously sprinkles the book with suggestions with what works and what doesn't in the high-stakes scramble for achieving the highest
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a fun book! No, seriously. I read this book for the sheer enjoyment of it after seeing an article the author had written in The Atlantic, titled I Took the SAT 7 Times to Help My Son Get Into College. When I saw the article, I knew I had to read the book. A quick search at my library and I was shocked to discover there didn't seem to be all that much reader interest. That's a shame as the book is less about how to score high at the SAT than it is about going on a quest. I also think the boo ...more
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschooling
Wow. This book was a lot of fun, made me feel less crazy, and gave me really interesting tips I wish I'd known before my two oldest took the SAT! (My third won't need the most important tips--the essay ones--as the SAT essay will be dead before he takes the test.) Debbie Stier got a little bit obsessed in her quest to motivate her son to study for the SAT, taking the test SEVEN times herself and researching and trying out various preparation methods over the course of a year. At one time, her tw ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I was intrigued by this book, being a teen myself. After much consideration, I decided not to take the ACT or SAT myself, and instead decided to go the Home School-College USA route to plot my degree path(I'm planning on a BA in Early Childhood Education). I did, however, use some online SAT study courses to supplement some of my classes and did my research on the test itself when still considering my options. So I know exactly where Debbie is coming from in being so ov
Donna Davis
I had hoped to delay reviewing this title till my own high school senior had taken the SAT, but we just realized that it will be a really long time before she gets tested & the scores are back, so I am forced into a straight-forward review.

I really appreciated both the nuggets of information contained here and the readable, personal manner in which it was all presented. Stier has a knack for writing. I hope she continues to publish more work.

Since I taught teenagers language arts and history til
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
As a college professor, I care deeply about the preparation students make for college. So I am often asked to provide advice to upcoming high school students about what they should do to prepare for college. One of the big concerns, nearly without exception, is how to score big on the college entrance exams like the SAT.

Here's a book for parents and students that offer that advice.

Debbie Stier had two teenagers heading to college. So she did all she could to help them prepare. Including taking
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens, parents of teens, nerds like me
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Debbie Stier is a single mother of two teenagers. Her book publishing career has spanned two decades, most of it spent in PR where she was responsible for publicizing dozens of iconic books ranging from The Notebook to Marley and Me. Frequently covered by the media, including MediaBistro, New York Observer and New York Magazine, Debbie regularly speaks on topic pertaining to social media and techn ...more

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