Common Sense Review
Updated January 2013

Middle School Vocabulary Prep

Colorful, simple vocab practice lacks word context
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 2
  • Students first study the vocabulary, then take a quiz and, finally, the big test.
  • In Learn mode, students get the part of speech and a definition for the word.
  • In the Word Quiz, students see a word and must select the correct definition.
  • In the Definition Quiz, students get a definition and must choose the correct word.
Pros
Intuitive and simple navigation, easy to read, appropriate content.
Cons
Words don't appear in any kind of context; music might turn some kids off.
Bottom Line
Offers kids solid practice but misses opportunities to engage and empower them.
Leslie Crenna
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Colorful and simple design is consistent and intuitive. Optional classical music serves to relax kids who need it but might turn off others. No games or significant encouragement.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

The app doesn't give examples of words used in context, which isn't great for deep learning. Kids also don't have many options for customizing the experience. However, the ability to email results could be motivating to kids.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Simple navigation and nice, large text are helpful. In the final test, incorrect answers are indicated only in the final score. Relaxing classical music might help some kids focus.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

For teachers using an iPad, there’s an in-app paid upgrade that allows you to add as many student names as needed, set the number of questions for the test, and track student progress.

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What's It Like?

Middle School Vocabulary Prep is a flashcard-like study aid. There are a few different ways kids can use the app to improve vocab skills: Learn mode gives parts of speech and concise definitions –- often one-word synonyms –- in large text. Quiz and Test modes utilize some 300 middle school words and let kids know how many they've gotten right out of the total. In the word-based quiz, students get a word and must choose a definition. The definition quiz does the opposite; students get a definition and must choose the correct word. When they answer correctly, they see a big "Correct"; when they answer incorrectly, they get "The correct answer is" (followed by the correct answer).

When students feel ready, they can take the BIG Final Practice test with 50 items presented as they are in quizzes. In test mode, students receive no feedback on selections until they see their total number correct at the end. When finished, students can email their results to others.

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Is It Good For Learning?

In general, the app is tight and focused, and navigation is nearly flawless, save the small Stop and Go Back buttons. Music and design work together to create a pleasant space for learning. However, the ultimately spare content sacrifices an important element: usage examples in context. It's not quite enough to just see the word; it would really help to see how it's used in a sentence. Additionally, there aren't any games or other engaging activities, and students have no way of customizing their own experience.

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