Take 2: About the Perfect Score Project
December 30, 2011
If you want to read the original, pre-journey, more innocent, less knowing, and probably more magical thinking "About Page" for this website, you can check it out via this link. But, I wrote that page in a very naive state of mind (i.e. before I took all SEVEN -- yes, 7) official SATs offered by the College Board over the course of 2011.
I'm a 46 year old mother of two teenagers, and this whole crazy journey started out as a cockamammie scheme to connect with my son. I thought maybe I could get him interested in this SAT thing if I climbed into the trenches. On that front, I totally scored (though he might never admit this to anyone other than me -- but we definitely bonded over the experience).
Bizarrely, I find the SAT "fun," as an adult. Go figure, especially given that I scored abysmally in high school. But, I'd always assumed that was because I didn't try very hard, way back when (circa 1982).
Anyway, my premise, last year, before I started taking the SAT, was that with a little bit of elbow grease, I could beat this thing once and for all -- and wouldn't that be a wonderful lesson for my kids: i.e. Watch this children! Let mom show you what you can achieve with a little hard work! (Haha, she says now, contemplating the true meaning of "a little hard work.")
Well, it didn't turn out the way I'd planned -- at least not with the Math section, which incidentally remains my favorite of the three sections, despite my heartache over hardly improving after 10 months of joyful study. Honestly, I'm still recovering from the shock over my lack of math score improvement (not to mention the look of stun on my son's face when I told him that his mother didn't do it. Cringe.).
I did manage to improve my Critical Reading and Writing scores though: I got an 800 on the Writing section (once), and was in the 99th percentile for the Critical Reading section by the end of the year. So that's good, I suppose. But of course, the neurotic part of me is still obsessing over my math score.
You can view my scores here, in this lovely graph format, which, incidentally, is another skill I learned over the course of this project (i.e. chart and graph making).
Here's what I think, in an off-the-cuff, first impressions, barely said and done*, Monday morning quarterback kind of way:
I know way more math than I knew at the beginning of this project. Way. No question. What I learned was not reflected in my math score, and I think the reason is that I vastly underestimated the amount of "hard work" that would be required to achieve a great math score. Given that I hadn't learned a lick of math since about the 9th grade, and I hate to even admit this, but my "hard work" calculations were probably off by a few years. Eeeeeeek.
So, if you're facing the SAT, learn from my experience! It could take a lot more hard work than you might think. I'd say, take what you imagine to be a very long time to study for the SAT (i.e six months?), and then add 40% to that amount of time. Ok? Got it?
I probably should have added 400% to my own math improvement timeline.
The crazy thing is, I still believe I have a propensity for math (though I'm sure few of you will believe me after looking at my scores). Not to mention, I loved the math section! They should have given me points for enthusiasm.
And the Reading and the Writing sections? I'd say that my experience shows that with a solid base of knowledge (I'm an avid reader and spent 20+ years in book publishing), great test prep can vastly improve your score. (Note that I said great test prep; not all test prep is created equal.) Without that solid base, no amount of test prep in the world will save you (refer to my math scores, and my joyful hours of studying SAT math, for proof of concept).
My other intention with this project was to share everything I discovered along the way, so that others could learn from my experience and hopefully spare themselves some of the wheel-spinning that's inevitable when there are 700,000 different options for "SAT Test Prep" to choose from listed in the Google machine.
I will to do my very best to highlight tips, resources, books, etc. on the righthand side of this website.
Ok, enough for now. I must stop with these postings immediately, so that I can write my book about this crazy journey -- and lord help me if didn't viscerally learn the most important lesson of the year: i.e. Everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING -- takes way way way longer than I think it will.
Good luck if you're taking the SAT, and Please Please Please write to me -- or comment or leave me a message somewhere, because all of your stories and comments and emails and advice and feedback over the year, truly moved me. There were a few really challenging days in 2011, where I can honestly say that the messages I received were my saving grace -- like little treasures.
And from me, I'll tell you everything I know. If you can't find what you need on this site, email me!
P.S. I put an asterisk by that "all said and done" line because the truth is, I'm not really "all said and done." It's more like, I'm on pause.
P.S.S. I posted videos about my SAT experience on YouTube, which I'll continue to try to do in these coming months.
P.S.S. Sometimes I share links and other non-post-length stuff on Facebook that I don't post here, so friend me up on Facebook if that's of interest to you.
P.S.S.S. And of course, I'm on Twitter, so connect with me there if that's where you get your information.
And alas, Google+. You will find me there, but the sorry truth is that I haven't given it the full embrace yet. I'm putting it on my list 2012 to-do list: bond with Google+. For now, I basically post links there. C'est tout.
All of the fabulous illustrations on this site are hand painted by Jennifer Orkin Lewis