I used to work as a professional SAT Reading coach, making big bucks; the key issue for most of my students was vocabulary. Rather, VOCABULARY. (The other is slowing down and thinking as--not after--they read.)
Many questions on the SAT reading section amount to vocabulary questions.
What this means is that if you want to improve your SAT scores, if you are an ambitious student trying to get into one of the top schools, there is no two ways about it: you have to study vocabulary.
And study vocabulary.
And study vocabulary.
You cannot study simply one book, or even one series of books. You have to study several series.
However, the Princeton Review Word Smart series is the best that I know of. You should start here. Even if you think you have a good vocabulary, start here just to be on the safe side, and you can move on later.
You would recommend studying any of the vocabulary books that I've ever seen--but I recommend mastering the Word Smart series. These really are by far the best--if you are shopping here, it probably means you need these books.
If you were one of my students, your parents paying lots of money, I would force you to master these books, and I would ride you like a horse until you did. And then your scores would come up, your parents would love me and tell all their friends, and I would get more jobs and more money. That's how it works.
Anyway, these are certainly the best vocabulary books on the market. Even if you're studying vocabulary for some other reason, these are probably still the best.
Word Smart II: How to Build a More Powerful Vocabulary
by Adam Robinson
Word Smart for Business: Cultivating a Six Figure Vocabulary
by Paul West Brook
These three books are permanently placed on my working desk, next to my portable computer. I find them very useful as reference guides to writing smart.
The first two books have a combined inventory of almost 1,700 important words. They have been written by Adam Robinson & The Princeton Review Team. As some readers may know, Adam Robinson happens to be also the author of 'What Smart Students Know' a very good book about smart study techniques. The two books are originally targetted at students preparing for SAT & other standardised tests, but I find them very useful for working professionals.
The third book has an inventory of over 4,000 important business terms, covering quite a broad spectrum of business disciplines. It has been written by a noted financial planning expert.
I enjoy browsing these three books from time to time. I often refer to them as I write my daily business correspondence as well as my reviews on amazon website.
I strongly recommend these three books to readers who want to communicate effectively, be more persuasive & more importantly, get more from your reading.