Friday, September 17, 2010

Boost Your SAT Scores Easily

This review has been adapted from a review that I wrote for The Curriculum Choice titled Vocabulary Cartoons, SAT Word Power. 

I have to admit, when I find a book or resource that works wonderfully for my family, I love to tell everyone about it. That’s exactly how I felt when I originally found this book and when I found out that I’d be offering a review for the TOS Crew of a product that I already knew well and LOVED.  I was so excited by the results I saw right away that I literally carried this around in my purse so I wouldn’t forget to show it to my friends on homeschool outings.

Are you curious to know what has me so excited? Allow me to introduce Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power, written by Sam Burchers and published by New Monic Books, Inc.  Though there is an entire line of these incredible teaching books to choose from, my focus will be on the one designed to improve SAT scores because that is the book that we have used.  However, from viewing the website, it looks as though all the books in the Vocabulary Cartoon series are written using the same format.

Written directly to 7th-12th grade students, Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power claims that your child can learn hundreds of SAT level words effortlessly, but just how is that possible? And the question you want to know is does it really work? In my experience of using SAT Word Power with my 13, 15 and 17 year old children, I would say, yes it certainly does.

How the book works

These books use mnemonics, a nifty devise that aids in the memorization process. It could be a phrase, a rhyme or an acronym that allows you to remember something by associating it with something you already know.  Confused? How about an example? Do you remember learning the colors in a rainbow in elementary school? My teacher helped me learn them by introducing the mnemonic, Roy G. Biv.  I already knew my colors; I just needed to learn the colors that made up a rainbow in order.  Remembering the mnemonic she gave me I was easily able to picture the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet by associating each letter in the name Roy G. Biv with a color. R= red, O= orange, Y= yellow; okay you get the point.  Another mnemonic you’re probably familiar with is the phrase, Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. The catchy rhyme makes this little tidbit of information easy to remember, doesn’t it?

Vocabulary Cartoons use the same principle but takes it one step further.  Not only are the vocabulary words linked with a word that you would know by association, they also introduce a silly cartoon drawing so you really see the picture in your head.  Are you familiar with the phrase ‘A picture is worth a thousand words?’  Never underestimate the power of a picture. In my opinion, this is invaluable for visual learners like my children and this aspect of the book is what really drives home the meaning and makes it stick.

How we use these books

Since I enjoy learning new vocabulary words as much as my children, we use this book together.  I’ll read the subject word, followed by the definition,  the link word or association word, show the kids the goofy cartoon while reading the silly sentence that describes the picture and then I’ll read the three sentences at the bottom of the page which you can see from the insert above, use the word in different contexts.

After we learn our new word, we will review the words we learned previously.  I do this by saying the vocabulary word and asking them to share it in a sentence of their own.  The book does have its own review system in place. Every ten words you’ll find a chapter quiz with matching and fill-in-the-blank questions that we choose to do orally.  My children love this book and will often pick it up between sessions so they can try to stump each other with the new words they’ve learned.   If you’d like to take a peek at the words included, you can do that here.

Time to wrap this Review Up

According to the publisher, Vocabulary Cartoons boost verbal standardized test scores and students learn 72% more words with 90% retention.

While I can’t attest to the claim that this book will raise SAT scores, since my children have not taken the SAT, I can say that they have learned a new word, effortlessly, in minutes each day and have retained what they’ve learned.

Vocabulary Cartoons, SAT Word Power sells for $12.95 and can be purchased through the publisher’s website.  I encourage you to check out this book and others in the series, you’ll find something for learners of all ages.

I’ve been impressed with the results that I’ve seen; whether my children ever take an SAT test or not, vocabulary is important to reading comprehension and communication skills, written or verbal.  I’ve found this book particularly helpful for my right brain children and look forward to beginning the second book in the series.  

You’ll find other reviews of this product here.

 Disclosure: I received this product from New Monic Books  free of charge in exchange for offering my honest opinion to my readers.    

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