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Best Vocab List - Results and Recommendations

dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
edited May 2011 in SAT Preparation
I scored a 620 CR on my May SAT. I'm hoping my June score will be better. Even so, I'm going to need a CR score of 700+ to get into Vanderbilt. So improving my vocabulary is a must. All of the Vocabulary lists and books claim to have "the most frequently tested words on the SAT." But what is the truth? Which list and/or book really is the best?

CC Fanatic and a host of CC posters did an amazing job of compiling a list of answers for the June SAT. Their list showed that there were 21 key Level 3 - 5 vocab words.

A week ago I began a thread called "Which Vocab list did the best?" Thx to all the CC posters who contributed. I had no idea there were so many vocab lists and books. I have now reviewed 14 lists and books. Here are the results:

1. Direct Hits Vocabulary: 435 words; 13 hits; 33.3 words per hit
2. PR Hit Parade: 253 words; 7 hits; 36.1 words per hit
3. Rocket Review: 323 words; 8 hits; 40.3 words per hit
4. Barron's High Frequency List: 385 words; 6 hits; 64.1 words per hit
5. Barron's Hot Words: 396 words; 6 hits; 66.0 words per hit
6. TestMaster's Little List: 254 words; 3 hits; 84.6 words per hit
7. REA SAT Book: 600 words; 7 hits; 85.7 words per hit
8. SuperKids: 1120 words; 13 hits; 86.1 words per hit
9. SparkNotes: 1000 words; 11 hits; 90.9 words per hit
10 Kaplan's SAT Score-Raising Dictionary: 1000 words; 11 hits; 90.9 words
per hit
11 Kaplan's SAT book: 500 words; 4 hits; 125 words per hit
12 PR's Word Smart: 1505 words; 11 hits; 136.8 words per hit
13 TestMaster's Big List: 2189 words; 13 hits; 168.3 words per hit
14 Barron's Mini-Dictionary: 3, 500 words; 19 hits; 184.2 words per hit

As you can see, the top 2 were Direct Hits Vocabulary and Princeton's Review's Hit Parade. The Hit Parade's high rate of success was not a surprise. My older brother and sister used it and recommended it. Direct Hits Vocabulary was a surprise. I first saw it on a CC post. It is actually not a list. It is a vocabulary book with 10 chapters including prefixes, word histories and the toughest words on the SAT.

My best advice is to study both the Hit Parade and Direct Hits. The two have a total of 536 words that generated 16 hits on the June SAT for a rate of
one hit per 33.5 words.
edited May 2011
22 replies
Post edited by dark knight on
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Replies to: Best Vocab List - Results and Recommendations

  • seamonsterseamonster 63 replies1 posts- Junior Member
    Nice job! Very interesting analysis. Dark Knight, do you have an opinion on the PR Hit Parade versus The Rocket Review's Power Ranked Core Words?
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  • legend.draculalegend.dracula 582 replies66 postsRegistered User Member
    "aaa" words per hit?? you mean you study that amount of vocab/day or week. i just plan to study 20-30 words per day and try not to forget it. Study more -> forget more is not good.
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  • QuicksandslowlyQuicksandslowly 1429 replies85 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Heh, you still don't have the BEST vocab list...On both the May and June SAT I knew all of the vocabulary thanks to "Loft's SAT vocab list." I think he has a website: www.sesamewords.com or something like that. Their's like 1000ish SAT words. BTW, according the the CC SC answer compilation for the June SAT I got all the SC correct because I knew all the words on the list.
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    legend.dracula - lets roll the clock back and say you are preparing for the June SAT. Lets also say you study and learn 30 words a day, which is really good. If you study the Barron's 3,500 word list it will take you 140 days to complete the list and you will have 19 hits. Now lets say you apply the same energy to the combined PR Hit Parade and Direct Hits Vocabulary lists. It will take you just 22 days to learn their 536 words and you will have 16 hits. So it is a question of efficiency.

    Quicksandslowly - I have been truly amazed at how many different lists of SAT vocabulary exist. I tried the seasamewords site but was unable to find the list you described. The website seems to be temporarily down.

    Seamonster - great question. I'll post a reply tomorrow.
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    Seamonster - the Rocket Review and PR Hit Parade lists are actually pretty close. The Rocket Review features 323 "power ranked core words." The ranking is based upon how many times a word has appeared on past SATs. The PR Hit Parade features 253 words that "show up most often on the SAT." The words are grouped into 35 clusters of related words. The Rocket Review has definitions but no illustrative sentences. The PR has definitions and illustrative sentences.

    The PR Hit Parade and Rocket Review were number 2 and 3 respectively on my list on post 1 above. To break the tie I was able to use old CC threads to retrieve the answers to the Sentence Completions on the March 08 SAT. The 19 SCs had a total of 13 level 3 - 5 words. The Rocket Review had 5 hits or one hit per 64.6 words and the PR Hit Parade had 4 hits or one hit per 63.2 words. So they remain basically tied.

    Interestingly, Direct Hits Vocabulary had 12 hits out of the 13 Level 3 - 5 words on the March 08 SAT or one hit per 36.1 words. I am curious to see how the other lists and books performed.
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  • joeyharveyjoeyharvey 27 replies10 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Thanks for the info, Dark Knight! Where can I find the Princeton Review's Hit Parade?
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    The Hit Parade is a feature in each edition of Princeton Review's Cracking the SAT. It begins on page 118 of the 2008 edition.
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    Several people have sent me private messages reporting that the link I gave for finding Direct Hits doesn't work. Sorry! Try this link:
    Direct Hits Publishing - Lulu.com
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  • sil0725sil0725 21 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    For Direct Hits, should I get both Volume 1 and volume 2?
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    silo725 - I recommend both volumes. Volume 1 focuses on Core Words (level 3 and 4) words, People, Word Histories, and Prefixes. Volume 2 focuses on Key Literary Terms, Words from the Sciences and Social Sciences, Words With Multiple Meanings and the 100 Toughest Words (ie all Level 5 words). Hope this helps.
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  • m0baik01m0baik01 179 replies46 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    What do you mean by hits and words per hits? Seems like eveyone knows this but I have noe clue. Could someone explain? thanks.
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    mObaik01 - good questions. Let me explain. A hit is a word that is defined on a list or in a vocab book and is then the ANSWER to a question on an SAT. So for example, PRAGMATIC was an answer on the June SAT and all of the lists and vocab books had PRAGMATIC. So they got a hit. Words per hit is the number of words in a list or vocab book divided by the number of hits generated by this list. For example, lets say a list has 1,000 words and 10 hits. That would mean 1 hit per 100 words. The lower the ratio the better. A low ratio means that the list or book is very effective. Hope this helps!
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  • dark knightdark knight 716 replies59 posts. Member
    It is interesting to note that Direct Hits Vocabulary, PR's Hit Parade and the Rocket Review Core Words performed the best on both the March SAT (see the thread "Which Vocab List Performed best on the March SAT) and the June SAT. Although these lists are not the longest they are the most effective. Quality is more important than quantity!
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  • m0baik01m0baik01 179 replies46 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Got it. thanks so much.
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  • sydneysider009sydneysider009 33 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Dark Knight, very thorough work on the analysis. I also used Direct Hits for the test after my college counselor recommended it--its much easier to get through than some of the other books, and some of the definitions even made me laugh. After looking at the thread for the test I took in June (I took the international version in Sydney, Australia), I also had great luck and lots of 'hits.' Of the 17 words I found on the CC thread, 12 of them were in Direct hits, and of the ones that weren't, many of them seemed to be easier words (ie predation, and malaise).
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  • mohan117mohan117 1 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    similar situation...i got 1 last chance too...quick question...im looking for the PR's Hit Parade...cant seem to find a copy in print...is it just an audio version?? if it is...is there any website where i could go to just download the word list?
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  • KeepRollingKeepRolling 521 replies60 postsRegistered User Member
    it's in the Princeton Review Cracking the SAT book.
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  • UnoriginalUnoriginal 825 replies102 postsRegistered User Member
    So which lists should we study from? The top three? Or is just one enough?
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  • lotf629lotf629 679 replies24 postsRegistered User Member
    Just a quick FYI: I put the sesamewords list back up, but at a new URL: Real Vocabulary. Sorry that I took it down: I was trying to make it better, but I was also finishing graduate school at the time, and it took a million years to revise and repost.

    Anyway. I promise not to take it down any more. I hope it will help you guys out again.
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  • kitcapskitcaps 2 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    The site is down again. Is there a sesamewords list that exists?
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