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Become a world class wordsmith by answering responsive quiz questions in this word app that adjusts as you play.
The Bottom Line
Great way to build long-term vocabulary for would-be word wizards, less so for last-minute cramming.

Words, Words, Words

The Vocabulary.com app brings the adaptive quizzes and curated word lists from the Vocabulary.com website to your mobile device. You learn through trial and error, answering multiple choice questions until you get them right, then reading explanations to improve your understanding of the correct word. The questions will get harder or easier based on how well you do. See an unfamiliar word in the choices? No problem -- you can look up words and add them to your list for future learning. The app offers standard word lists or a variety of other lists, including ones for test prep.

Learn by Trial and Error

Once you create a login email and password, and enter your birthdate (or login using Facebook if you are 13 years old), you jump right into playing by answering a variety of questions. Playing earns you points and achievements.

The formats of the multiple choice questions -- sentence completion, word usage, defining words, etc. -- are very similar to those found in standardized tests. The source is often from a popular publication such as the New York Times, and you can click to see the original source article. If you don't answer immediately, maybe a hint will help: you can eliminate half the choices, see the word in context, or sometimes even see the definition of the word. If you answer incorrectly, keep trying! When you get the right answer, you'll see the word's definition and an explanation of its roots.

The app lets you look up any of the words in the multiple choices, and you can add them to your learning list. By adding your own words, and through the app's adaptive selections based on your performance, you will be creating a customized list, tailored to your vocabulary level. You can also choose from existing Vocabulary.com lists such as SAT prep, literature, and current events, as well as lists created by other users.

Great for Language Lovers

The Vocabulary.com app is great for kids who are genuinely interested in improving their vocabularies. The real-world examples, solid explanations, and sensible etymology all help players remember a word and increase their ability to decipher future words...if they take the time to read and absorb the text. The ability to adapt as kids learn is an outstanding feature.

The achievements are a nice pat on the back, but are unlikely to be motivating all on their own. Also, pictures are rare, so for kids who learn better with cartoons and quirky phrases (such as found in SAT Word Slam), this app may not be for them.
If you want to use a list from another user, we recommend checking out the website to see how the list has been rated; not all SAT lists are created equal. Another perk of logging into the site is that you can create your own lists: a wonderful way to practice for vocabulary quizzes in school, which isn't possible with just the app.

Note that logging into the website asks for a lot of information, such as your city, state, and the name of your school. These fields are optional, but it's a good idea to chat with your kids about privacy just in case. Even creating a login email for the app will sign you up for a weekly vocabulary question, which in turn leads you to the website.

Best For

Vocabulary.com is a great tool for your dedicated word-nerd, or at least for kids with specific word-learning goals to keep them on track. It is a good fit for kids who really do want to improve their word knowledge. There's plenty here for adults to learn as well, so try challenging your kid to a weekly points battle. If you want to see examples of the types of questions, try out the free tools on Vocabulary.com.

This Vocabulary.com app review was written by Liz K. McKinney.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Released: 3/21/2014
Company: Vocabulary.com
Price: 2.99
Platforms: Android
iPod Touch
Available: Apple App Store
Google Play

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