Learning words on Vocabulary.com may seem simple. But in fact, as you play, our game is synthesizing large sets of data on how millions of users interact with the words you're working on. All of this behind-the-scenes number-crunching is intended to make your experience with the game as efficient and enjoyable as possible.  

To see this in action, let's take a closer look at raise, one of more than 12,000 words we teach on Vocabulary.com.

Currently, we use 77 different questions to teach raise, which we group by the various meanings of the word. On each meaning, we have multiple types of questions that span a range of difficulties. This graph shows our 77 questions on the word raise, organized by meaning and difficulty.

When learning raise, no one player will see all 77 questions. We choose which question to give based on several factors: the player's overall ability level, their progress towards mastering the word, and their recent play history.

Through questions like the ones you see here, players learn each of the meanings of a word.

We use all the answers we receive to help us learn about both the questions and the players answering them. We build statistical models that try to predict how both players and questions are going to perform.

We create a statistical model for each of the more than 120,000 questions in our game. In this model, the red line shows how we expect the question to perform and the blue circles represent actual user data. To date, we have analyzed about 200,000 data points on the word raise alone.

Want to learn more about the science behind our data-driven approach to word learning? The Vocabulary.com white paper lays out how Vocabulary.com harnesses big data to bring insights from the science of learning into practical use for teachers and students.

Teachers and adminstrators: want to find out how to put the science of vocabulary learning to work in the classroom? Check out the Vocabulary.com Educator Edition, the premium version of Vocabulary.com that supports classroom, school, or district-wide vocabulary curricula with tools for assigning work, tracking progress, and assessing learning. Why not sign up for a free trial?