TODAY   |  February 25, 2014

Author reveals secrets of acing the SAT

Author Debbie Stier talks about her new book, “The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT,” for which she took the test herself, seven times. She offers suggestions on how to properly prepare your kids for the big test.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> just before the break, we challenged you to go to our website and answer this s.a.t. question. what is the value of "w" in the figure? is it 90, 100, 110, 135, 145? 55% of you answered, b, 100, and you were correct, including tamron hall and our camera guy bob jaeger. took mastering these types of questions to a whole new level. spent one year taking the s.a.t. seven times to help her son ethan who joins her. so explain that equation for us there.

>> okay. so that's an easy math question if you know the rules. the rule is that a triangle has 180 degrees, right? and so those are vertical angles, and so the 35 degrees on one side would mean the inside angle of the triangle is 35 degrees, 45 degrees would mean the other angle is 45 degrees, you know it's 180-degree triangle minus 35, minus 45 and you come up with 100.

>> their book is called "the perfect score" uncovering the secret of the s.a.t. 3 million kids take it, it's a four-hour marathon. i think i forgot my score on purpose because it's so bad. with that said, what's the best advice you're offering?

>> what i would say is give yourself a nice long runway. there's no way to cram for this test. it's the cramming that causes the stress and anxiety. it feels good to be prepared. it does not have to be a reviled right of passage and use official college board material.

>> when you heard your mom was going to do this, what were you thinking?

>> i was a little nervous and freaked out. i've never heard of a parent taking the s.a.t. before. but i knew it would help me a lot. it was really nice to have somebody take it a year before me.

>> okay. so debbie, we're going to have -- your score went up 330 points, by the way.

>> it did.

>> that's impressive.

>> it did. now, i would say this, what my score shows is if you have a solid foundation, test prep, great test prep works. if you don't have a solid foundation, no amount of test prep can help you.

>> before we get to sample questions, you test prepped in math, but that score did not increase.

>> that's right. and i would say that verifies my theory that the truth of the matter is if i could go back and do it again, i would have taken traditional math and i would have bolstered my foundation going into it.

>> okay. here we go. we're going to test our knowledge. okay, number one, here's a question. no longer considered blank, the belief that all of puerto rico 's indigenous tanio people perished centuries ago appears to be a blank now that modern taino descendents have come forward. is it mythical impossibility, erroneous, delusion, hypothetical die depression?

>> this is a critical reading question. the sentence completions. it's considered to be a medium-level question.

>> okay.

>> i would consider more than medium level, slightly hard. but what i would do is cover the answers and come up with my own words and then see if i can find synonyms.

>> i'm going with "b."

>> you are correct.

>> okay.

>> it is big.

>> all right.

>> there you go.

>> next question, we have to choose which one of the underlined sections is incorrect. lions and tigers may be identical in size, but the tiger is the fiercer animal and the lion, the strongest. and no error is "e."

>> no error freaks kids out. why does that affect us?

>> because you -- you want to think there's an error. and sometimes they put two or even three no errors in a row. you want to know the rules so you can check it and make sure it's actually no error. you have to know grammar.

>> should it be the tiger is the fiercest animal and the lion the stronger?

>> i pick "d."

>> you are close, but no. it's actually "d" is incorrect. and it should be parallel. the fiercer and the stronger.

>> that's what i said.

>> okay.

>> request a full-size desk, keep your own time, and learn to bubble properly?

>> yeah. there are more bubbles than there are questions.

>> okay.

>> got you.

>> there's so much more to talk about. but the book explains a lot.

>> good luck to you, as well.

>> thank you.

>> we'll be back in a moment. but first this is