SAT Word Slam

Common Sense Media says

A slam dunk for helping teens' vocabulary to ... burgeon.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

This app is pretty straightforward, and full instructions are included on the information page. On first opening the app, users will see hints to help navigate each section. The words are challenging, but users can designate words as "easy" or "difficult," and can customize lists words they want to study or test.

Violence

Some poems and mnemonics mention violence, such as King Henry's wives and a Barbie being beheaded.

Sex

Several poems and mnemonics reference sex -- an "impregnable" egg is protected from sperm, a "philanderer" is a womanizer who wants to "land" her, and teens blush when they start to "burgeon." A gold-plated thong is mentioned, a father commands his scantily clad daughter to "redress," and Aristotle "ruminates" about whether he is gay or straight.

Language

Gateway words are fairly common in this app, although "hell" and "ass" are written with symbols replacing some letters. Other language includes: butt, BS, damned, crapathy, suckup, and queer. 

Consumerism

A link from the information page goes to a page where kids can purchase the book this app is based on. The information page also says that more words will be available as in-app purchases in the future.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcohol is frequently mentioned in the app, sometimes, but not always, with a negative spin. For example, a "bacchanal" (wild, drunken party) will send you back to rehab, but a "stoic" person should be given champagne, and the poems often mention wanting or enjoying beer. Smoking and drugs are typically mentioned in a negative light -- cigarettes are "abhorred," and the doctor from Cider House Rules dies after sniffing "ether."

Privacy & safety

Minor privacy concerns. Users can email the developer or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that SAT Word Slam is a vocabulary learning and testing app based on the book by Jodi Fodor. In fact, the 400 words in the app utilize many of the same definitions, poems, and mnemonics as the book. Each word is accompanied by a poem, mnemonic device, definition, and audio recording. The writing is very stylized and often sarcastic, making frequent references to pop culture. Some of these references may be too mature for younger teens -- either because of the adult content or because they're just too young to really know that Pamela Anderson is mostly "fictitious." The app includes numerous references to drinking alcohol, and a couple to sneaking out at night. Recordings are professional and often use accents to make them more memorable. Future updates may include in-app purchases to add more words.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Humor and pop-culture references along with professional voice-overs keep kids engaged. Variety in quiz types -- synonym, fill-in-the-blank, and complete-the-poem -- keep it fun.

Learning Approach

Rhymes and mnemonic devices for each word provide depth of understanding that will transfer. Students are empowered to create playlists for specific word study and to rank words as easy or difficult to create lists for further review.

Support

Clear illustrations show how to use each screen when it's first encountered. Quiz scores are stored, so students can see if they're improving.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • vocabulary

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses

Kids can learn and remember high-level vocabulary words like "arcane," "malaise," and "recuse" with this well-designed SAT prep app. For each of the 400 words, teens can read or listen to a short definition, a rhyming poem, and a mnemonic device. They can also learn the part of speech and a pronunciation for each word. The clever rhymes and exaggerated voices make the words and meanings memorable. In addition, teens can tailor the learning experience by creating a custom playlist and ranking words by difficulty. SAT Word Slam is a slam dunk for learning apps that will have teens' vocabularies ... burgeoning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Wilkey Oh

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What's it about?

From the navigation bar, teens can choose from Teach Me, Test Me, Playlist, Index, and Test Results. The index includes an alphabetical list of words with parts of speech, pronunciations, definitions, and mnemonic devices. Teens can mark words as easy, medium, or difficult. The playlist lets kids create a custom set of words from the full list. The Teach Me section includes the poems and mnemonics. In both the Teach Me and Test Me sections, teens can review or test all words, words they've marked as difficult, or a custom playlist.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

SAT Word Slam is very down-to-earth, and the author's voice comes through pretty clearly, opinions and all. The testing section is well-designed, and the teaching and index sections give teens various ways to learn the words with clever poems and mnemonics, as well as the ability to categorize and study words by difficulty. While the sassy references to Paris Hilton and O.J. Simpson make for memorable associations, they don't always provide the most precise idea of the meaning and correct use of the words. However, in terms of learning design, it would be hard to find an app that's better than SAT Word Slam for helping kids learn and remember challenging vocabulary.

Families can talk about...

  • Encourage your teen to use the SAT words in everyday conversation. Choose one word a week to focus on as a family, and make a point of using it.

  • Suggest to teens that they start a vocabulary journal. Along with the words and definitions, they can include original sentences and hand-drawn images to help them remember the meanings.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:Free - $3.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:June 18, 2013
Category:Education
Size:276.00 MB
Publisher:Slammin Productions
Version:2.1.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.3 or later

This review of SAT Word Slam was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byWordLover February 23, 2012
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

My kids love this app. I give it 5 Stars.

My kids are crazy about this app. This is the first time I've been able to get my teenagers interested in learning vocabulary. They love that the vocab rhymes are funny and they love the character voices. I like the mnemonics because they make sense and make words easy to remember. The app is very easy to use and is a great teaching tool. One thing that's really unique is that when you take a test, if you get a question wrong a button pops up that teaches you the word you should have picked. I recommend this app very highly.
Parent Written byReaderMum February 25, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

My Kids Love This Vocab App Because it Makes Them Laugh

I have three kids using this app: 13, 15, and 17. They all like it--especially my 13-year-old who likes to keep up with the other two. They like that the words are taught with rhyme, and that there is a lot of sarcastic humor in there. I love that the pronunciations are given, that the words are used in context, and that there is an audio option that lets the kids hear all the poems read for them. This is especially great for my younger two who are very strong audio learners. Also, there is a memory clue after every poem, and that's been a huge help. I ask the kids what the words mean and they often refer to the memory clues like, "We revere Paul Revere," and "Monday feels Mundane." Other apps I've found just give the definitions, but this one is much more of a learning tool. There are occasional mentions of edgy things like smoking, but I find that the references are critical, as in the poem for the word, "jocular," where it says, "Jocular people mock and make jokes. I feel jocular whenever I see people smoke. That is if I don't feel like whacking their heads; nothing funny about taking the fast track to dead." I really suggest that you try this app. I hope that there are more words coming soon for this app because my kids are tearing through the first 350. Great website, Common sense media. Thanks!
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