You love your kids. You want the best for them. You care about their education and their future. But how far would you go to help them succeed? One concerned mother took the SAT not once, not twice, but seven times in an effort to encourage, empathize with, and set an example for her academically average son.
Debbie Stier is the author of The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT, a book that chronicles the year she spent studying for and taking the SAT seven times at five different locations in hopes of inspiring and motivating her son, Ethan.
“I did not expect Ethan to pull off a perfect SAT score (though I wouldn’t have discouraged him from trying had he wanted to do so of of his own accord),” said Stier in a piece adapted from her book for The Atlantic. “I found that by putting the pressure on myself, not on him, I was able to hold the bar reasonably high without having to nag or push (too much). I was ‘modeling’ the behavior that I was hoping to cultivate in my son.”
Stier’s approach may seem extreme, to say the least, but in an age when competition for admission can be fierce, many parents are eager to help their children perform well on standardized tests, especially if, like Stier’s son, their grades and extracurriculars aren’t terribly impressive. The author also explained that she hadn’t saved for her son’s education and was hoping that, if he did well on the SAT, he might be eligible for merit-based scholarships.
So what were the results of Stier’s unorthodox but well-intentioned endeavor? Well, evidently she landed a book deal, so her efforts at least paid off in that regard! But she also reports that, "In the end, the project was a success, especially in ways I'd never imagined. Start with the fact that my teenage son morphed from a happy-go-lucky little tadpole who was in need of a lot of ‘re-focusing’ when we began the project, into a hard-working, driven young man" who is now in college.
Whether parents simply monitor their children’s daily studies or take additional steps such as investing in test prep services or even taking the test themselves, there’s no surefire way to guarantee a perfect score on the SAT. And that’s OK, because it’s just one part of a student’s college applications, and with so many excellent colleges and universities to choose from in this country, there’s bound to be one that’s a perfect match for your child’s strengths and interests, regardless of their standardized test scores.
What do you think of Debbie Stier’s decision to take the SAT seven times? What is your strategy for helping your child prepare for the SAT or ACT?