I recently started tutoring two students who had the same area in need of major improvement: SAT Vocab. My lesson plans incorporate vocabulary roots, quizzes and sentence completions. My students make picture flash cards for HW. I've got the teaching in place, but I wanted one more supplement... I thought that a portable, easy-to-digest vocabulary reader- something a student could keep in a backpack for those down-time minutes when classwork is done- would work well. Enter Direct Hits.
Direct Hits sent me a copy of "Toughest Vocabulary of the SAT" 5th edition for me to review and offer feedback. At 145 pages, this paperback, around 6" x 10", is easy to carry around, and promises what other prep books can't: brevity.
The book has chapters that include subject-specific jargon, everyday words with multiple meanings, a list of one-line definitions of all the words that were covered, and some sentence completion practices. The entry on the word "osmosis", for example, starts with its chemistry-book definition. It ends with an explanation that it can be used in other contexts, i.e., describing the "often unconscious process of assimilation". Literary and social science terms have turns as well. "Manifesto", for example, comes from history, but as described by the writers, doesn't just belong next to a date and place; its definition has a broader application.
In the chapter called "Words with Multiple Meanings", the writers shed light on less common uses of everyday words such as "court". Students know the basketball court or the place of justice, but may not know that court is also a verb and that voters are "courted" by politicians. This section includes the occasional table of roots that correlate to that page of words; I wish these tables showed up more often.
But alas, its brevity and portability are selling points to me. I can imagine my student finishing a test in class and, after a breather, reaching into his/her bag to flip through this book. The writing is engaging for the target age group; high school books such as "The Scarlet Letter" and the "Harry Potter" series are used in the sample sentences. Even their academic coursework gets a feature; I've mentioned osmosis and manifesto, and there are also mentions of Rachel Carson, Louis XIV, King Leonidas and Woodrow Wilson.
While I don't think one can effectively study SAT Vocab by *just* reading this book, it's usefulness is as an effective learning supplement.