Vocab Smart

App review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Vocab Smart App Poster Image
Confusing, odd definitions distract from real learning.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to increase and self-assess their knowledge of more than 5,000 middle- and high-school level words like aberrant, veracious, and interpose. As with any study of vocabulary, tweens and teens can also improve their spelling as well as reading comprehension skills. Ability to edit definitions gives kids the chance to improve or completely alter existing inconsistent definition quality. Vocab Smart has a good foundation but needs to improve content and reduce ad intrusions to reach its full potential.

Ease of Play

Nice colors, text could be larger and bolder. Navigation is fast and easy.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Take note that in the free version, there are a lot of banner ads, video ads, and ads that interrupt gameplay, but if you upgrade to the ad-free version, the screen is much cleaner.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vocab Smart is a solid and flexible vocabulary flashcard and testing app that could use more precise content and less-intrusive ads. Tweens and teens can add to the existing 5,000+ middle- and high-school level words in new stacks as well as edit existing definitions. Flashcard mode allows easy swipe study with shuffle option, and testing mode creates good stats like time and percent correct. What's missing is part of speech for each word, which -- along with occasionally strange definitions and similar words on the list of choices -- can lead to frustratingly incorrect answers. Ads are ever present in the free version: banners, menu button to app store, and interrupting videos.

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What's it about?

In flashcard mode, kids can choose shuffle or study words in alphabetical order. Either way, teens can easily search for a particular word or beginning letter with the scroll bar. Each card shows the word with instruction to tap to flip for definition. In the Vocab Builder testing mode, teens are presented with a definition and four possible matching words. Correct or incorrect responses are displayed prominently with "Correct" and green check or "Wrong" and red 'x' at top of following test item.

Is it any good?

Overall, Vocab Smart has clean navigation and flexible features, but it falls down on the quality of definitions and constant, sometimes overwhelming ads in the free version. On the plus side, it comes preloaded with more than 5,000 words, kids can add their own word lists, testing is flexible, and performance statistics give overall numbers as well as by last session, per each list, and "trend" which seems to mean each testing session. As a bit of icing, the Dictionary.com word of the day displays on the main menu.

Unfortunately, that's where the connection to Dictionary.com ends. Clearly, neither it nor Merriam-Webster is the source of this app's definitions. Thankfully, teens can edit definitions -- a serious plus since some of them are seriously off. While some folks might not be so fussy, it will lead to incorrect answers especially for teens who have already encountered these words in text or speech. An example: Vocab Smart gives this definition, "1. Marked by impulsive anger or violence as in a hasty and forceful expression of anger," with answer options "outrage" or "impetuous." According to them, "impetuous" is correct, though neither Dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster.com use the word anger in their definition for impetuous; the word violence is used only in the second meaning referring to inanimate objects. Lastly, kids will be distracted by the constant banner ads, app store button on the main menu, and interrupting video ads for adult-oriented products like Old Spice and acid reflux medicine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Post the word of the day on the fridge, and give kids a party if they can remember it the next day for five days in a row.

  • Quiz in a group: One reads definition then choices, first one to blurt gets it.

App details

For kids who love words

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