The Perfect Score Project

Invite2_jpgDebbie Stier was in the publishing industry when I met her.  We immediately clicked.  She is smart, vivacious, sees things coming down the pike and gets the world we live in.  She was always willing to go out on a limb to publish books that she believed in.  Like an investor she saw things in people and knew how to bring the story out of them.  Impressive.  Unfortunately the industry does not know how to embrace people like Debbie and so they parted ways.   

At that point of her life she was living in Westchester with two kids as a single Mom.  Her son was just entering the SAT craze.  She decided to roll up her sleeves and figure the whole thing out.  Essentially The Perfect Score Project is a labor of love. She decided that she would go through the torturous process with her son to help motivate him and perhaps learn the tricks.  

Debbie seriously got into it.  I remember the first time she took the test.  I talked to her on the phone and asked her how she did.  She began telling me what percentile she was in.  I stopped her in her tracks.  I got right down to it and said I do not care about the percentile I want to know what was your score.  She laughed.  

She ended up taking the SAT 7 times and eventually scoring pretty damn well on English and the essay but could never get it to the point where she wanted in math.  What she learned is how to study for a test and how to do it best.  Where that gets you I am not sure except the ability to have a top tier school look at your application.

It is a book to read for any parent with a kid entering that SAT world that happens sometime around end of Sophomore early Junior year.  It is miserable but at least you can read Debbies book.  It is commendable what she did.  Through out the process she moved out of Westchester, moved to NYC, her son got into college and now she is home schooling her daughter Daisy.  

Bottom line, great Mom story.  Major kudos to Debbie!  

Comments (Archived):

  1. Tracey Jackson

    Love Deb. Love her project. She was one of the best social media gurus I ever had. When I was published at Harper Collins she was the best thing there. I was heartbroken when she left. But so happy she has gone on and carved out this unique place for herself. Go Deb!

    1. Gotham Gal

      Ahead of the curve.

      1. Debbie Stier

        I’m coming to these comments, next time I need a pick me up!Thank you!!!

  2. LE

    “What she learned is how to study for a test and how to do it best.”And that is really the core of the problem with the SAT or any test.Some people simply don’t test well. [1] And the whole idea of studying to take a test in a sense means that you can almost skip the school part and concentrate on studying for the test.Not to mention that entrepreneurship as a whole is really the antithesis of the entire boxed and packaged educational system. For every Gates or Zuckerberg who did well enough to at least get into Harvard, there are thousands of people who are entrepreneurs strictly because they don’t fit in a traditional school system. They learn and figure things out in a way that isn’t something that is tested at school. Which is setup to rank people.[1] One day I will tell the story of how poorly I did on SAT’s (and for that matter just “ok” grades) and managed to get into and graduate from Wharton. And how surprised I was when I got there to find people who had done 1600 on their SAT’s (out of 1600 at the time) and the stupid things that they did.

    1. Gotham Gal

      my test scores were abysmal

      1. LE

        Probably not as bad as mine.My english teacher at the time (high school) was a Penn graduate. She told me don’t even bother applying “you’re not Penn material”. [1] Other than that she was a great teacher.She is now a full professor at Swarthmore and concentrates on education research (from what I see now).…[1] This was at a private school. Sure I went there because my parents could pay for it. But it was my idea to go to the private school (true), not their idea. My sisters wanted to stay at the public high school for social reasons. That’s something that isn’t tested.

      2. Debbie Stier

        You would do MUCH better if you took the test now. I assure you!

        1. LE

          Sure but what would be the point of that really? If Joanne is happy and successful why take the test? I actually see a downside to doing that.

          1. Gotham Gal

            to get into the college of your choice. at least that is the pitch.

          2. Debbie Stier

            And to receive merit aid (versus loans). That’s a biggie. It’s tied to the scores at most schools.Obviously, I wanted merit aid that didn’t have to be repaid.

          3. Debbie Stier

            I’m not saying she *should* take the test! Just that she *would* do much better if she did take it.

      3. AMT Editorial Staff

        Ditto the mediocre test scores BUT a few of the applications said “is there anything else we should know about you” and I addressed the issue right there. Own it.

    2. Debbie Stier

      I did TERRIBLY on the SAT in high school … and well in life. So I do believe in that possibility. That said, the world is more competitive now than when I took the test, not to mention, an unrecovered economy and fewer jobs. I wanted my children to have as many opportunities as they possibly could.Not to mention, were were in dire need of financial aid to pay for college. And, I wanted as much of that financial aid to be in the form of merit aid (i.e. a gift that doesn’t need to be paid back). Merit aid is very often correlated to SAT scores, even at the “test optional” schools.I assure you that Gates and Zuckerberg had top SAT scores, as did everyone else who went/goes to Harvard!After taking the SAT 7 times as an adult, I can also assure you that there is absolutely no way to get a top score on this test by simply studying for the test. It is a test of how solid your foundational skills of reading, writing and math are. You must have a solid foundation to score well, which, presumably, one learns in school. Or, as in the case of my homeschooled daughter, you can learn at home.My adult scores bore this out: I barely improved on the math section after doing “test prep” for a year because I had a weak foundation. My scores shot way up to perfect and almost perfect on the reading and the writing because I was solid in those two areas.

  3. LE

    Here’s a short story about knowing how to play the game and stand out.I was involved for a short time as an alumni in interviewing students who had applied to Penn or Wharton. I thought it would be fun to do.So I have this one student to interview and we meet at the local Starbucks. He is from Israel and has only been in this country for maybe 2 or 3 years and spoke really good english. I think his grades were excellent as were his SAT scores.So I spend all this time at the interview giving him entrepreneurial advice not info specific to Penn (because I hadn’t been there for so many years).At the end of the interview I tell him that he should do something to stand out like put together a video tape that gives examples of how far he has come from being an immigrant and not knowing the language (which is what he told me) and today. (Because I was really impressed with that). He says sounds like a good idea (or something like that).Then I tell him to send me a copy of the video and I will include it in the letter of recommendation that I send on his behalf.Well low and behold no video ever arrived. Not only that but he sends me a thank you which basically says “thanks for telling me so much about Penn” when that was not even what we spoke about. Thanks for listening!So of course I never wrote him a recommendation or did anything to help him after that. I felt that if he wasn’t willing to put in the effort to follow an idea that someone who was going to help him had, then let the chips fall and all of that.A hustler, an opportunist, would have put in the effort to make the video (assuming he was telling the truth and I think he was). So my feeling was “he’s not Wharton material despite the grades” since he didn’t stand out in the effort category.To anyone who agrees or disagrees with whether he should have done the video or not consider this. He is selling to me at that point. I’m telling him I think he should do it. And it’s my hot button. So he should, on the off chance that I am right, not watch football on Sunday and make the video instead. If he doesn’t know how, figure it out or get help from a friend. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i’ve heard this type of story from others before. amazing that he had such bad manners and scary too. i wouldn’t have written a rec either.

      1. AMT Editorial Staff

        As an alum, I interview candidates applying to Georgetown University. I’ve been doing this for 10 years or so…RARELY to I even get a thank you email or anything. I fault the parents and school counselors. I don’t even mind if it’s a text! 🙂

        1. Gotham Gal

          that is awful.

    2. Jpdo

      I believe you missed the point on this one. He basically decided he didn’t want to go to the school that you represented. Either that or he had many other schools that he interviewed with and didn’t need your recommendation. Especially after seeing how the interview went, he probably had a bad impression of you and didn’t think you could do a good job of writing a recommendation. 1) They speak English in Isreal so that’s why his English was proficient 2) You probably offended him (or he thought you were dumb) if you commented on his English.3) You didn’t tell him about your school. Isn’t part of the point of interview is to tell them about your school and make your school look diserable to a prospective student?4) Why the hell did you meet at a Starbucks? That is probably the most unprofessional setting I can think of, not to mention there is no privacy. 5) Starbucks is seen around the world as the antithesis of the stereotypical “American” culture. Basically people from other countries think we are obnoxious and ignorant with all our branding and monopolies. As well as having little awareness for other cultures. (not all of them. I’m sure the Asian countries don’t feel this way. My parents are from Thailand and China and they all love anything American and think it’s the best.) Europeans, middle Eastern, and most Latin cultures feel we are ignorant and don’t make sense.6) What the hell is the point of making a video for you? He’s right there in front of you. He doesn’t need to make a video. If you want to know why he feels he stands out then just ask him. That’s what the interview is for. 7) He already stands out. And he wrote a personal statement as part of admissions. So he covered that.8) He was being polite by sending you a thank you note. Hardly anyone goes out of their way to do that. He wrote “thank for telling me so much about Penn” bc he was really trying to say “you are retarded. Why didn’t you talk about Penn? That was a waste of my time.” (Basically giving you the middle finger. But doing it in a way that wasn’t disrespectful. ) ……OR he actually meant it. By not talking about Penn and by behaving the way you did, WAS telling him a lot about Penn. It told him bad things about Penn.

  4. jill stern

    Fun story!