Test Prep

The Perfect Score Project: The story of a mom, her son and seven SAT's

Debbie Stier thought she could motivate her son if she climbed into the SAT trenches with him. But what started for Stier as a scheme to rescue her son from "sliding by", became an obsession to superscore her way into the 97th percentile.  One small traffic accident, a television purchase, an apology note written in "SAT words," a crisis in which her children moved out to live with their father and a large dose of humble pie later, Stier's enslavement to the SAT bore fruit.  Most importantly, she was deemed by her son to be "the best SAT mom in the whole world." And seven -- yes, 7! -- SAT's later, she wrote The Perfect Score Project to share all she had learned -- from test prep and "bubbling" techniques to the secrets of snacking. But it's more than a book about standardized testing -- it's an intimate story of a family, a self-help book and a tale with a happy ending. We're a sucker for that combination.

Stier joins us today to answer our questions about her journey down the rabbit hole of answer sheets, the best free resources for preparing for the SAT, test day tips, the funniest thing that happened to her on the way to a perfect score and more…

 

Juniors, Five Things to Do Before the End of the Year

We recently asked high school counselor Kelly Dunham what five things juniors should take care of before the school year ends and we thought we'd bring you her great advice here again. BTW, she added a kicker sixth item that is essential for a smooth college admissions process in your senior year!

What are the five most important things for juniors to do before the end of the school year?

Conference with their high school counselor or college counselor

ACT/SAT test prep and take ACT/SAT (hopefully twice)

Ask for teacher letters of recommendation

Have an honest conversation with parents about finances

Online college searches, local college fairs, visit college campuses

And one more:

Be aware of college admission requirements:  required high school coursework, GPA, test scores, letters of rec, essays, etc.

 

For more information about applying to college, see College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, including the recommendations in "Timeline: The Path to College."

Seniors: Free Test Prep Resources

 

The best preparation for testing is to take rigorous courses, work hard, and read, read, read. But familiarity with the SAT and ACT and taking practice tests can improve scores. So, seniors, if you're taking the SAT or ACT this fall, here are some resources for free practice tests and test prep:

Websites

ACT Sample Test

Number2

SAT College Board Practice Test 

Spark Notes SAT Practice Test

You can find more information about testing, including information on the essay, testing accommodations, test-optional schools, and how colleges view testing in Chapter 7 of College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, "Taking the Tests."

Things We Like: Free -- Great -- SAT Prep

The Khan Academy is an educational website that lets anyone “learn almost anything—for free.” Khan Academy boasts an online library of more than 3000 video micro-lectures on everything from algebra to venture capital and it now includes an entire section on SAT test prep, using the College Board's Official SAT Study Guide.

In 10-minute videos, Khan works through each problem in the math sections of the study guide.  He recommends students take the practice tests on their own, grade them and then use the Academy videos to understand the problems they didn't solve correctly or simply to review their work.  We've been working through these videos ourselves and, while they may not be slick in their presentation, they provide clear, helpful, step-by-step instruction that feels one-on-one.  And, one more time… it's free. File this under "Things We Like."