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Vocab Rootology

No-frills app may help motivated students learn about roots of words

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Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, English Language Arts

Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Pros: Increasing difficulty levels may motivate students to keep improving their performance.

Cons: Lacks a bit of flair and fun some students may need.

Bottom Line: Students can learn how to recognize Greek and Latin roots, their definitions, and how they appear in words to help them prepare for major standardized tests.

Teachers can use Vocab Rootology to help students prepare for major exams such as the SAT, ACT, and GRE, and build their personal vocabularies. The app is designed to be used on an individual basis, but teachers may provide students with a specific list of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes to focus on as they review flashcards and participate in timed drills. Reviewing student GPAs and performance levels will also help inform a teacher's lesson planning and provide ideas for small-group instruction. While the app has a place in language arts classes, it will also work in SAT and GRE prep classes.

Instead of creating their own flashcards on index cards, students can review Vocab Rootology's pre-created flashcards. As they quiz themselves, they can mark whether they correctly or incorrectly defined the word, allowing them to concentrate on the roots they don't know and only occasionally review the words they do know.

Vocab Rootology offers a simple premise -- studying vocabulary-based flashcards -- and then puts the content of those flashcards to use during timed drills or, as the instructions put it, "Drill, baby, Drill!!!" Flashcards cover four main categories: prefixes, suffixes, Greek roots, and Latin roots. As teens study flashcards, they earn experience points. Completing timed drills, organized by subject and level, also earns points. Both types of points help determine a teen's overall GPA and grade level, shown on the Report Card. As kids study flashcards and complete drills, they learn to do more than simply learn the definitions of the word roots -- they learn how the roots fit into words and what role they play in the English language.

Students can learn how to recognize Greek and Latin roots, their definitions, and how they appear in words with Vocab Rootology. Flashcards allow them to build their knowledge one root at a time, checking off roots as they correctly define them. In the drill section, kids apply those definitions as they break down words by prefix, suffix, and root. Learning the roots of words can help kids boost their vocabulary and reading comprehension, but Vocab Rootology's unpolished design and focus on drills may not engage students who are not especially motivated to learn about words.



Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Kids who are already interested in word origins may find the content engaging. The app would benefit from improved graphics and more engaging activities.


Difficulty increases by level, and report cards track progress and encourage kids to keep improving. Learning the roots of words can help kids not only with exams but also with reading comprehension throughout life.


Detailed instructions help kids use the app effectively, but an interactive tutorial would be better. The app lacks audio options, putting auditory learners at a disadvantage.

Common Sense reviewer

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