Middle School Vocabulary Prep

Colorful, simple vocab practice lacks word context

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Subjects & Topics

English Language Arts, English-Language Learning

Price: Paid
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire

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.

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.

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.

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.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

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.


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.


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.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

Straightforward Self-study tool for Vocabulary Definitions

This app has a clean design and useful vocabulary. I can see it being helpful as an enrichment tool for individual practice, perhaps for students who finish early or as additional drilling for students who are lacking linguistically. However, I take issue with a few elements. First of all, I could not find the rationale for the selected vocabulary anywhere. Is it based on Common Core? Does it come from English Language Arts standards? Not sure. That made me feel uncomfortable, as I wasn't clear as to why these specific words should be learned at this level. Secondly, I was disappointed by the lack of depth. The definition cards are nicely formatted with a clean layout and template, but there are no examples as to how the words are used in a sentence. This leaves the user without a contextual experience of the word. I would also love to see an option where the word is isolated on one slide and the definition and part of speech are shown on the next-- this may help learners who need information chunked rather than all at once. I appreciate the clean design and options for quizzing the term or for the definition, as well as the ability to select how many questions are in your quiz. However, I do believe some students will simply tap their way through the quiz, and disregard the wrong answer tips. This could be improved with an option to have students type in the correct definition, or answer more questions about the word, before being able to proceed. Finally, I know my students would want more encouragement than the plain "Correct!" message. Whether through a positive sound, a more visual reinforcer (such as a star for every right answer), and/or some element of competing with themselves (getting applauded for their best scores or for finally mastering a word, etc.). Overall, this is well-intended, simple to use, and could be a nice way to allow students some extra vocabulary building. While it lacks depth, it provides straightforward practice and that will certainly be appreciated by those who prefer to avoid "bells and whistles".
P.S. While the cards tell the part of speech for each term (noun, adjective, etc.), the format is "(vocabulary term) is a: (part of speech)". Thus, if the word is an adjective, the line reads "blank" is A ADJECTIVE. I cringe seeing "a" instead of "a(n)". This is the grammar stickler in me, but worth mentioning as a possible small fix to the app.

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