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SMART Vocabulary

Price: iPhone/iPad - Paid

Teacher Overview

Smart Vocabulary is an app aimed at growing and refining a student's range of vocabulary in preparation for college entrance tests but anybody who would like to expand their knowledge of lesser-used words could also learn a lot from it.

Teacher Review

Smart Vocabulary is designed around preparing students for the language component of the SAT.  To this end, it covers 440 words selected by their likelihood of appearing on this test. It is a good selection not only for the purposes of the tests but because they are also useful words to know how to use correctly.  They aren't unused relics of an evolving language but the sort of words that writers can use to add nuance and variety to their text.  In short, they are words that people should know.

The app has taken an unusual approach to its presentation as it structures the learning around music.  Words are learned in octaves with each key of a piano keyboard bringing up a new word.  Phases in the learning also have musical-based names such as rehearsal and performance.  The musical metaphor is purely an organisational approach that works well but should not be interpreted as one that requires any musical knowledge.  

Each word, when it is selected by tapping upon a piano key, brings up a word and a picture.  At the same time, there is an audible cue.  These can be musical excerpts taken from modern and old pop music, nursery rhymes, folk songs and novelty songs.  The pronunciation of each word can be prompted by tapping upon it.  Together, these all work well to convey the meaning of the word and to embed it firmly in the mind of the viewer.  

Once each octave is completed, a task that is easy to track as the keys have coloured dots that show whether it has been selected or not, a set of consolidation tasks are begun.  These involve answering questions about the words' meanings and appropriate usage with regard to context.  Missing word exercises, selecting a word by its similarity or difference to the group within which it is written, and choosing another word which is most similar within a given context are the sort of tasks there to be completed.  

These quizzes work well and follow on perfectly from the earlier word introductions.  They reinforce the words' usage and meaning.  Most are answered via the device's on-screen keyboard and, pleasingly, the app responds to this popping up by repositioning the current question so that it remains visible.  This is the sort of quality-of-life feature that can quickly make an app's usage a chore if it is omitted.  

These quizzes aren't a test as such.  They allow retries until the correct answer is reached which unlocks the chance to move on to the next.  In this regard, the app expects a motivated student who is actively trying to learn rather than just trying to speed through the exercise.  A student relying on guesses won't learn much but they're unlikely to progress particularly quickly either, so it would be a pointless tactic.

At certain points in the app, a pop quiz does appear to assess and test students.  These follow a similar format and provide a useful reality check to students as to their current progress.

Any app with as much text in it as this one does is bound to have the occasional typo, and this one does but they are few and rarely encountered.  None found in this review made the answering of questions difficult.  These tend to be cleared up as an app is updated over time too.

Smart Vocabulary is well designed to meet its objective of expanding students' vocabulary.  Its knowledge-building exercises are effective and useful.  Its subsidiary sections, such as the reverse lexicon, and lexicon guides are useful for quick reference too.  It works just as well on large-screen tablets as it does on phone-sized screens, so its usage can be fitted around any routine at home or on the move. Smart Vocabulary is a smart app to choose.

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Teacher Certification

Teacher Rating for the appTeacher Rating

App Advertising or In-App PurchasesSafeguarding

In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No

Screenshots

  • SMART Vocabulary App - 1SMART Vocabulary App - 2SMART Vocabulary App - 3SMART Vocabulary App - 4

Developer Description

SMART Vocabulary, a standardized test preparation app for college admission, offers 440 most frequently encountered words on the SAT, 150 practice test questions, and a patent-pending, associative/multi-sensory learning technique. Featuring a virtual piano, preparing for “the” test uses aural, visual and kinesthetic cues to help individuals learn and retain these vocabulary words. Practice, rehearsal, performance and master class activities reinforce learning. Special features of the app include self-selected audio and color-preferences, word pronunciation, lexicon and reverse dictionary and a User Guide with tips for successful test taking.

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