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on March 1, 2013
I received a review copy of the 5th edition, both volumes. As a tutor who has been using Direct Hits since the 1st edition and has also used 300 Essential Words, I offer the following comments.

First, there are a lot of lists out there (I'm sure I've seen almost all of them), but the Direct Hits Family is the best. The list is based upon the actual SAT Test. The list is manageable. 1000 words, 3500 words, 5000 words?! Really? If you know that many words you need to work for Merriam-Webster. Time would be better spent reading. It is so well organized. The 5th edition shows welcome changes from the earlier editions. The explanations require less reading, sentences rather than passages. The Latin/Greek roots are interspersed throughout the books and connected with the relevant words. Direct Hits does a fantastic job in bring up previous words in new lessons; this serves as functional review. There are less sentence completion review exercises than in the earlier versions, but if you know how to use the blog posts it more than makes up for it.

Heck, if you're already in college but find the reading "soo hard" get both volumes and get educated son. It's not gonna get eazier.

In conclusion, I recommend Direct Hits for tutors, self-studying SAT students or anyone who wants to get a vocabulary foundation for college level. Remember, it is a start not a panacea, but it's probably the best start out there
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on March 23, 2013
Note: I received a review copy of this book.

Like other reviewers have mentioned, the book is concise and entertaining. What they neglected to mention is how much better it is than everything else. My review copy came with a list of over 130 words which were on both recent SAT's and in this book! That's flat out incredible, given that there are 440 words in the Core + Toughest books. Most of the other companies have word lists in the thousands, and their hit rate is definitely lower.

The other great thing about the books is how much fun they are to read. Each word has a paragraph or two telling a story, which makes it simple to learn the words. All the descriptions are either cool facts from history or quotes/items related to current events and pop culture, so teenagers are much more likely to understand and incorporate the words into their vocabulary. There's also a review at the end with all the words and their definitions if you want a quick refresher. One other new feature is the sample sentence completions at the end of each book - there are about 30 of them in each book, and they're very realistic.

I'm currently a junior at Yale, and I used an older version of Direct Hits in the past, which I largely credit for my 800 Critical Reading score on the SAT. I had a blast reviewing the 5th edition because the books are so well written and entertaining, and I never thought I'd say that about a SAT vocab book.

If you want to get a great score, and have a fun time learning some really cool words, then Direct Hits is your best choice.
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on August 4, 2013
I have used this vocabulary book working with students who are studying for the SAT. The up-to-date relevant examples help students readily understand how a word is used in context. As soon as I started to explain a few of the examples for an entry, students would come up with their own examples, sometimes the next example illustrated under the entry word.
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on February 15, 2014
Before receiving Direct Hits, I was confused as to how a book can teach you words, but actually, it's the best thing.
Each paragraph with a word is constructed so brilliantly, that before you know it, you can name three synonymous rather than one. Like trite, banal, hackneyed. And then you learn even more words in the paragraph that they describe that word. Such as Paula Abdul's "banal comments on American Idol".
I 100% recommend Direct Hits. I'm finding it more helpful than flashcards, and that's a lot to say as I've been using flashcards all my life.
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on January 27, 2014
This is an excellent book. I am using it for my high school English classes for the first time. The definitions use current examples, and students seem to grasp the meanings much more easily than standard dictionary definitions. One of my students took the SAT on Saturday, and he felt that the vocabulary section was a breeze due to our focus on improving vocabulary this year using this edition. The only improvement I can recommend to the editor is to not use a form of the word in its definition (something so many dictionaries are guilty of, too)!
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on September 1, 2013
We bought couple of other vocabulary books, we also bought the flash cards but it is hard to motivation to read those books. This book on the other hand is an easy and fun read. It is short, less than 150 pages making so it seems doable. While explaining the word they draw references to popular culture making it a fun read. The also use other hard words in their explanation so you learn other words while learning the original word.
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on March 3, 2016
Pretty good book. I read and re-read several pages each night to remember them and practice the words. Only thing it needs it to show you how to pronounce the words, and whether they're n, v or adj,
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on January 12, 2014
I like this book because it provides a deeper understanding in learning words by including informative examples of the words being used.
I usually just look up words' meanings but they don't stick in my mind because I need application and associations to effectively memorize them.
I think this book, although not solely, contributed in raising my CR score from around the low-mid 500's to a 600 on my following practice tests.
I recommend this to anyone who wants to expand their vocabulary and improve their score. It would be best to buy the Toughest Vocabulary book by the same publisher though.
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on August 22, 2013
If English is not one of your stellar subjects then you will benefit from this book. Even if English is your favorite subject, the book would probably help at least as a refresher. Its hard for me to judge it because the SAT is far into my past (but you didn't hear that from me) and even then I was pretty good in vocabulary -- but it was because I was an avid reader and I actively worked on building my vocabulary skills by using books much like this one. I did enjoy going through the book and testing my vocabulary.
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on November 25, 2014
My son loves this book. Each word comes with a relateable story (maybe a movie reference, for example) to make the meaning clear, along with synonyms. And then the back of the book has a summary of all words. Kudos to the authors.
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