Friday, May 10, 2019


I always enjoy ordering goodies from The Critical Thinking Co.  Sometimes the kids don't think it is always so fun, but the quality of learning can't be beaten.  When I had the chance to review their Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 it was an easy "Yes!"  I received an electronic copy of the 209-page book.  I was easily able to download and print the book out.  It is an interactive download so you could fill it out on the computer, but this can be tricky and doesn't work so well for us.  I then used my binder to bind it into a nice book for my 9th-grade son to use.  It is recommended for grades 8-12+.

My son is a struggling learner so he has not taken any testing yet and this is just the perfect book to continue his practice that we have used other programs for in the past.  Of course, he was less than thrilled to have yet another resource in this area, but he will be grateful when it is time for his testing and he doesn't struggle so much due to the wonderful practice he has had.  This book will definitely help him prepare. It helps him build his vocabulary that will help his comprehension in critical reading.

Sample Vocab Word List


Sample extras throughout the book for deeper immersion of the stories covered

The lessons consist of stories that help your student with concepts in language arts, literature and humanities.  Concepts learned include:

  • Literary
    • Characterization in literature
    • Idioms
    • Puns
    • Jargon
    • Irony
    • Euphemisms
    • Aphorisms
    • Allusions
    • Theme
  • Rhetorical
    • The art of persuasion in speech and writing
    • Using the extended simile to write a poem
  • Historical
    • The Renaissance
    • Renaissance Artists

More sample extras including Puns and Literary Jargon

There are 20 lessons plus 5 reviews. There is an answer key in the back of the book.  The reviews occur after every 4 lessons (32 vocabulary words per review).  Each lesson consists of 9 words with 85% of them coming from the current PSAT or SAT word lists. Each list focuses on a part of speech such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives.  They include pronunciations, definitions, other word forms, and a sample sentence.  There are 6 parts (A-F) to every lesson.  They include practice with synonyms, idioms, and phrases.  The workbook pages mostly consist of fill in the blanks.  There are word lists included helping with the choices.  Some other activities include a story challenge (choosing the right word to fill in), word scrambles, and completing a sentence using the underlined word to show you understand what it means.  The reviews also include crossword puzzles and multiple choice.

Sample workbook fill in the blank

Sample Story Challenge
Sample Word Scramble

Working through the lessons by completing one lesson per week is one way to use the curriculum (there are actually 6 parts per lesson) but I think in the future going forward we will split it up and do a lesson every two weeks since this is just extra practice right now for us.  That schedule would probably only work to get through the material in one year if you continued through the summer (which we tend to do on some items).  By breaking it up into two weeks we will be able to cover 3 parts per week (instead of every day) and allow him to really work with what he is learning so he doesn't try to complete it so quickly and miss out on the purpose of the curriculum.

Sample review page - Crossword (with error)

I really like the way the lessons are laid out and feel that it helps your student get good immersion into the words and gives them a chance to get good comprehension and retention of the words. The activities involved cause your student to really think about the definitions and allow them to practice using the words in sentences and stories to get better comprehension.  I could tell when he didn't really pay attention to the definitions because he would have more difficulty completing the lessons.  By learning the synonyms and other ways the word can be used (i.e. idioms and phrases), it really causes deeper thought and again, a better comprehension of the words.

We did find one error so far in the first review.  One of the words is missing, 9 across, and has no definition in the hints. We can see what the word is from the answer list in the back but had no way of really knowing what that word was other than just guessing.  Errors happen, no big deal. I really like the layout of the book and feel that it will definitely help him in preparing for his test.  I give it a thumbs up!

A special gift to my readers, a coupon code!  You get FREE shipping plus 15% off any size order by using the code TOSCREW19 (expires 12/31/19).  Enjoy!

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I recommend you not only check out Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 but also the reviews on other books from The Critical Thinking Co. from my fellow Crew members by clicking on the graphic link below.

Critical Thinking, Math, Vocabulary & Writing Skills {The Critical Thinking Co. Reviews}
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