VOCABULARY.COM : HELP

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

THE BASICS:

  • What is Vocabulary.com?
    Vocabulary.com is the easiest, most intelligent way to improve your vocabulary. It combines an adaptive learning system (The Challenge) with the world's fastest dictionary (The Dictionary) so that you can learn words quickly and efficiently.
  • What’s the best way to improve my vocabulary with Vocabulary.com?
    The best way to use Vocabulary.com is to work with The Challenge on a regular basis, say 15 minutes a day. When you get a question wrong, pay attention to the explanation so you can learn the word. As you continue to use the tool, we’ll keep reminding you of the words you’re learning.
  • Why is it important to improve my vocabulary?
    A good vocabulary can:
    • improve your writing
    • grant you respect from your peers
    • help you reason and explain your reasoning
    • make you more confident
    • help you get the right job
    • improve your chances of getting into the school of your choice
  • Why should I use Vocabulary.com to learn vocabulary?

    We teach you useful words.

    We don’t waste your time. We started by looking at books, periodicals, and other materials that collectively contain over 1.6 billion words. From this corpus, we pull out the most essential English vocabulary words, the words that you need to succeed in an academic or work environment. This list serves as the basis for our learning platform.

    We teach you only the words that you have trouble with.

    Vocabulary.com uses a proprietary technology that we call Adaptive Vocabulary Instruction or AVI. Unlike traditional learning systems, we don’t rely on a series of time-consuming and boring assessments. Instead, everything you do on the site adds to our AVI model. It’s like you have a personal trainer in the room, monitoring your work and suggesting new words and exercises to challenge you on your level. Because of this, we don’t waste your time learning words that are too easy or too hard.

    We don’t let you forget.

    Finally, we analyze your achievements, and reinforce your skills by reintroducing words at various times to make sure that you are retaining the words you originally learned.

  • Will the words I learn appear on the SAT or the ACT?
    It’s very likely that the words you learn on Vocabulary.com will appear on the SAT. Our experts have chosen the words that are most likely to appear in academic and business writing, and these words also commonly appear on the SAT and the ACT.
  • Will Vocabulary.com prepare me for the SAT or the ACT and improve my score?
    Vocabulary.com is the perfect learning tool to prepare you for the SAT. The SAT contains a Critical Reading section that tests your ability to recognize words within context and a Sentence Completion section that tests your choice for the best fit of words within sentences. Learning the vocabulary words that often appear within these sections will improve your chance of getting these questions correct and improve your score. In addition, The Challenge features Sentence Completion questions, so you’ll get plenty of practice for this SAT section.
  • How can I best use Vocabulary.com to prepare for the SAT or the ACT?
    The best way to learn vocabulary with Vocabulary.com is to work a little bit each day. If you know your test is coming up in 6 months, start using Vocabulary.com for 15 minutes a day. You’ll find your vocabulary improving, which will then lead to higher test scores.
  • I need to learn a specific list of words. Can Vocabulary.com help me?
    Yes, we can. Just create a Vocabulary List, click “Learn this List,” and we'll begin to teach you just the words on your list. You can learn any list this way, as long as it contains at least 10 learnable words.
  • Why should I create an account?
    When you create an account and sign in, you’ll be able to learn words tailored to your level, gain achievements while playing The Challenge, track your progress on each individual word, view your total word learning progress, create and save vocabulary lists, comment on articles and vocabulary lists, and much more! Create an account now to enjoy these unique features.
  • How do I sign up?
    It’s super-easy to sign up. All you need to do is click “Sign Up” in the upper right corner of the website, and you’ll be able to log in with your Facebook account or create a new account.
  • How do I log in?
    Click “Log In” in the upper-right corner of the site.
  • What if I forget my password?
    If you have forgotten your password, please enter your email address on the Forgot Password page. We will send you an email with a link to reset your password.
  • What is the Question of the Week email?
    The Question of the Week email contains a question that is chosen based on the questions you’ve answered on The Challenge. It’s a good idea to use the question of the week to remind you to do a little work with Vocabulary.com each week.
  • How do I unsubscribe from the Question of the Week email?
    At the bottom of each email is a link to unsubscribe. Click on the link, and then confirm that you are unsubscribing.

THE CHALLENGE:

  • How do you know what words to teach me?
    Every question that you answer gives us a better understanding of the words that you know and those you don’t. So as you answer more questions, we have a better idea of what words to test you on. As you miss questions or elect to choose a hint, we add the words to the list of words you’re learning.
  • Can I choose the words I learn?
    Yes! You have two choices:
    1. Add a word to your learning queue: Normally, we choose words for you automatically based on your vocabulary knowledge. But if you'd like to give us a hint, you can click the “Learn” button on the word’s dictionary page. That'll let us know that we should focus more on that word in the future.
    2. Learn your own list (or someone else's): You can also choose to learn a specific list of words. Start by creating a Vocabulary List, save it, and then click the “Learn this List” tab. Or, choose from thousands of learnable lists in our Vocabulary Lists section.

  • What is an assessment question?
    Assessment questions are used to determine what words you know. As you answer these questions, we determine the words that you should be learning. If you get a question wrong, we add the word the question is based on to the list of words you’re learning.
  • What is a review question?
    If you get a question wrong, you’ll see it again as a review question. A review question is given to ensure that you have learned from the question you’ve missed, so pay attention!
  • What is a progress question?
    Once a word has been added to the list of words you’re learning, we’ll continue to ask you new progress questions about it until you’ve mastered the word.
  • What is a mastery review question?
    Even after you’ve mastered a word, we still check up on you every once in a while with a mastery review question.
  • Why do I keep seeing the same questions over and over again?
    If you get a question wrong, we’ll give it to you again after a little while. We’ll keep giving you the question until you get it right. This way we can make sure you can answer that question correctly and learn that meaning of the word.
  • What is a round?
    A round contains 10 questions that test your knowledge or advance your mastery of 10 different words. Once you’ve played a word, it will appear in the round scorecard on the right side of The Challenge. It will show you whether or not you got the question correct and your progress on the word. At the end of a round, we’ll show you a round summary with highlights, including Achievement Badges.
  • What is the little bar graph that sometimes appears next to a word in the list of words on the right of The Challenge?
    This is a progress bar which will only appear next to a word after you’ve answered a Progress Question correctly. It is an indication that you have progressed on the word, and moved closer to Mastery. Assessment question words will not have progress bars next to them.
  • What are the various achievements I can get?
    There are achievements for the number of words mastered, streaks, and other goals like scoring a perfect round. You can see a full list of the achievements here.
  • What are hints?
    If you’re unsure of the answer to an assessment question, you can choose from a number of hints. The option to choose a hint will appear after a few seconds. Clicking on a hint cuts the question’s point value in half.

    Different question types have different kinds of hints.

    • 50/50 - eliminate all but two answers.
    • Word in the Wild - see a sentence with the word.
    • Definition - see the definition of the word.

  • How is my score calculated?
    Each Assessment, Progress, and Mastery Review question is initially worth 100 points. If you click on a hint, the question is then worth 50 points. Each review question is worth 75 points.
  • How do I “master” a word?
    When you play The Challenge, we’ll ask you questions on the most essential definitions of a word. When you get these questions correct, the progress bar will start to fill in for that word. Once you’ve “mastered” all definitions of the word, the progress bar will fill up completely, and the word will become a “mastered” word.
  • Is there a way to reset my score and words?
    We don’t recommend you do this, but if you feel that you’d like to start the learning process over (if for example, your dad accidentally used your account, and now all the words you are learning are too hard for you), you can reset your score. In the “My Account” section, there is a “reset my learning history” button that resets the account to the default/new status.
  • How often should I play The Challenge to make significant progress?
    We recommend that you play The Challenge for at least 15 minutes a day to make significant progress.

THE DICTIONARY:

  • What makes The Dictionary so fast?
    As you type in the search box, we’re making our best guess as to what word you’re looking for. If you see your word in one of the first five choices, you can click on it to see the word page, or if your word is number one, we’ll choose it for you. Also, we don’t display any ads on the dictionary result page. Since there are no ads, the pages render faster, and there are no distractions keeping you from the definitions.
  • How do the search results work?
    When you start typing a word, our best guess for your search will instantly display. The more you type, the more our guess gets refined. We provide 5 predictions as to the word you are going to type, and our best guess is the first word and the definition page below. If you see your word in the list, you can either use the down arrow, or click on the word to get its definition page. If you misspell a word, we’ll provide alternative suggestions for the word within the results listing.
  • Why are there no ads on your dictionary page?
    Because they would slow down our dictionary! We’d rather have our viewers find what they’re looking for than spend a lot of time sifting through ads.
  • I can’t find a particular word in your dictionary. What can I do?
    We’ve captured the most commonly searched-for words in our dictionary, in addition to the most commonly appearing standardized test words. We’re constantly refining the dictionary, and will be adding more words on a regular basis.
  • How do the Quick Definitions work?
    The dictionary page may include a “Quick Definitions” viewer above the definition listings. This is a fast way to view all of the definitions of a word by rolling over the squares. Clicking on a square takes you to the detailed definition lower on the page.
  • How does the usage diagram on the right hand side of each dictionary result page work?
    The diagram you see on the right hand side of the page is a representation of a particular word’s family. In English, many words are closely related to other words, so closely related that we deem them to be in the same family. The Usage diagram indicates how these words are related, and how frequent each word from the family is used in the wild.

    What you can Learn from a Word Family Diagram:

    For example, take the word significant. Significant is part of the sign family.

    From the usage diagram, you can determine the following:

    • The "significant" group that contains "significant"" also includes other words that are used fairly frequently -- "insignificant" and "significance".
    • The "significant" group is the most common of the groups derived from the "signify" group. It is more common than other closely related word groups like "signifying", "signifies", "signified". (You can see these by rolling the mouse over the gray rectangles that do not have words showing.)
    • If you roll over "significant" (or any other word or gray box representing a word), you can see how frequently that word appears. In the case of "significant", you can expect to see that word once every 170 pages. If you include the words that are part of the significant group (by rolling over the word "significant" in the second row), you’ll see that the group containing "significant", "insignificant" and "significance" appears once every 73 pages.
    • If you roll over the "sign" family, you can see that a member of the sign family appears once every 17 pages, so it is a fairly common word family.

    Navigating with the Word Family Diagram

    Clicking on a word in the diagram does one of two things:

    1. If the word has a separate definition page in our dictionary, you go to that page.
    2. If the word does not have a separate page, you go to the page that shows the closest related word. For example, if you were to click on signs in the above diagram, you would go to the sign page.

    In either case, the Usage Examples will reflect the word that you have clicked on, so even though you are on the sign page after clicking on signs, you’ll see usage examples with the word signs in them.

    In some cases, a word may appear in the word family diagram, but there might not be any sentence examples.

  • How do the usage examples work?
    A great way to learn vocabulary words is to see the word in context. We’ve created a system that pulls from articles on the web, classics, and other popular texts to give you a wide range of usage examples by category. Click on a category to see how the word is used in a particular category. Click on “Next” to bring up another group of usage examples.
  • How do I add words to learn in The Challenge?
    To add words to your learning queue, click on the “Learn” button on the word’s dictionary page. The word will then be scheduled to learn in The Challenge along with the other words we’ve picked for your level.
  • How do I add a word to a list?
    Within the dictionary page, a word can be added to the selected Vocabulary list by clicking on the “Add to List” button. Alternatively, a word can be added to a list super fast by selecting a word within the dictionary search results by clicking on it or using the down-arrow, followed by hitting the right arrow or “Add to list” link.
  • What does the “launch” button do?
    Clicking on the launch button takes you to visualthesaurus.com and gives you a visual map of the word and its synonyms. The Visual Thesaurus is an interactive dictionary and thesaurus which creates word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words. Its innovative display encourages exploration and learning. You'll understand language in a powerful new way.

    By seeing how a word relates to its synonyms, you can help cement the meaning in your mind.

  • Why can I only click on 5 words in the Visual Thesaurus?
    The Visual Thesaurus is an excellent companion site along with Vocabulary.com to improve your vocabulary. It requires a subscription, but you can try it out from any word on vocabulary.com and explore. If you like it, consider subscribing, and you’ll be able to look up as many words as you want.
  • How do I hear a word’s pronunciation?
    Listen to a word’s pronunciation by clicking the speaker icon to the right of the word on the dictionary page. Audio equipment such as speakers or headphones is required. You must have Flash installed to play the pronunciations. If you’re not sure if you have it installed, please visit Adobe.com to get the latest version: http://www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer/.

VOCABULARY LISTS

  • What is a Vocabulary List?
    A Vocabulary List is what it sounds like, a list of Vocabulary words. It’s easy to make them, share them, and comment on them. To get started, just look up a word and click “List Builder” in The Dictionary tools bar, or click on “Create New List” from the Vocabulary Lists section of the site.
  • How do I make a Vocabulary List?
    There are two ways to make a list: From The Dictionary and from the Vocabulary Lists section.

    From The Dictionary, start typing in the search box, and the search results list will appear below. Clicking on the “Advanced Search” tab will allow for limiting to specific parameters within the results (such as “typeof:walk”). Click on the “List Builder” button to open the Vocabulary List building options, and selection boxes will appear next to each word. Next, check the selection boxes next to the words you’d like to include in your list. You may then optionally perform additional searches, and your previously selected words will appear within a scrolling list above the new search results. Once all of the desired words are selected, use the drop-down to append to an existing list or create a new list. Lastly, click on the “Create List” button, and you’ll be taken to the Edit List screen.

    Alternatively, click on the “Create a New List” button in the Vocabulary Lists section or on My Profile. On the “Create New List” screen, there are three ways to enter words: One at a time, All at once, or From Text. The “One at a time” screen is a rich word list builder with predicted words as you type, dynamic definitions, and an example sentence browser. In the “All at once screen,” lists can be typed or pasted in comma or line-delineated format. In the “From text” screen, feel free to paste in up to 100 pages of text and we’ll grab all the Vocabulary words for you. We’ll present you with the example sentences wherever individual words appear in the text, so you can easily choose examples to be displayed on the list review screen.

  • How do I add a word to an existing list?
    The same way you make a list from scratch.
  • How many Vocabulary Lists can I make?
    As many as you’d like!
  • How do I edit a Vocabulary List?
    Within the “My Lists” module on the homepage, Vocabulary Lists page, or My Profile, you will see all of your Vocabulary lists. Click “Edit” and you will be taken to the Edit screen. Alternatively, you may also click on the “Edit” tab of a list you created. Be sure to click “Save List” after making your changes.
  • Can I edit someone else’s vocabulary list?
    No. But you can add it to your Bookmarked lists by clicking the “Bookmark” button in the list’s full.
  • How do I switch between making a vocabulary list private or public?
    In “Edit” mode, click the radio buttons that toggle between “Shared” and “Private” under the “Title” field.
  • How do I delete a list?
    There are several ways to delete a list: From the My Lists module on the homepage, Vocabulary Lists page, or My Profile page, hover over a list, and the delete button will appear. Additionally, in “Edit” mode, there is a “Delete List” button in the upper-right corner of the page.
  • How do I make a list automatically from a large amount of text?
    From the Vocabulary Lists page, click “Create a New List.” Next click “From text” and you will be taken to the “Create a Vocabulary List from Text” page. On this screen, paste up to 100 pages of text in the field on the left, click “Grab Vocab,” and all of the vocabulary words will appear in the scrolling list. Check words to include them in the Vocabulary list. You may also “shift-click” to select multiple checkboxes by clicking on a checkbox while holding down shift, scrolling-down the list and clicking the last checkbox you’d like to include. Click on each word individually to view and select the example sentences from the text. You may choose to not include example sentences by un-checking the “Include Example Sentences” checkbox. Each word or example can then be edited in the “One at a time” option in the Edit subnavigation.
  • How do I alphabetize my vocabulary list?
    In the “Review” or “Edit” modes of your list, click on the “List order” drop down and select “A to Z” or “Z to A” to order the list alphabetically.
  • How can I print my vocabulary list?
    In “Review” mode, click on the “Print” icon on the upper-right of the page, under “More on this list.”
  • Can I copy the text of a vocabulary list?
    Sure. In “Review” mode, go to the “Words Only” view on any list. Then highlight the comma-delineated words and copy them by typing “Ctrl-C” on a PC and “Command-C” on a Mac. You may then paste the words into any document you wish.
  • How do I delete a word?
    On any list you’ve created, go to “Edit” mode. You may delete a word by either clicking the “X” next to a word in the “One at a time” view, or highlight and delete as many words as you’d like at a time in “All at once” view.
  • How do I edit a word’s description?
    In “Edit” mode, the description field in the top-right can be edited with whatever text you’d like.
  • What does it mean to “bookmark”?
    If you run across a vocabulary list that you like, you can click on the “bookmark” button on the right hand side of the vocabulary list page. The list will now be available for viewing on your profile page and in the “My Lists” module, so you can easily find it.
  • What does it mean to make a list public or private?
    If a list is public, anyone can view it. If it’s private, you’re the only one who has access.
  • Is there a way to search vocabulary lists?
    On every vocabulary list page, there’s a search box on the right hand side. Type in a word to search. Or, you can go here

THE DICTIONARY: ADVANCED SEARCH

  • How does the Advanced Search work?
    The Dictionary Advanced Search is a powerful tool to help you find just the right word(s) you need. It uses a series of parameters to help you discover, explore and refine your search. You can limit your search to parts of speech, display synonyms or antonyms of a word, restrict to a syllable range, find rhymes, or only show words that start with a certain letter or prefix. The Advanced Search can also pull words that contain a word or phrase in a definition. Additionally, you can search by type of (e.g. “flower” returns daisy, rose, peony), example of (e.g. “planet” returns Earth, Venus), and parts of (e.g. “computer” returns keyboard, microchip). After you hit the “Advanced Search” button, your results will be displayed below, and your search string will appear in the dictionary search field above. Try different parameter combinations for fun results.
  • What’s another word for “fire”?
    Try searching for: synonym:fire in the dictionary.
  • What’s a two syllable word that rhymes with toast?
    Try searching for: syllables:2 +rhyme:toast.
  • Who’s a runner who ran a four minute mile?
    Try searching for: text:four +eg:runner.

MY PROGRESS

  • How do I see a list of the words I’m learning?
    In the My Progress section, the default view shows all of the words you’re learning. These are all words that you’re making progress on in The Challenge game, sorted by progress. You can also sort by reverse progress, date started, alphabetical, reverse alphabetical, and last played.
  • How do I see a list of the words I’ve mastered?
    In the My Progress section, click on “Words I’ve Learned” to display your mastered words. Words can be sorted similarly to the “Words I’m Learning” list. Under the Stats section, you’ll see a chart of your words mastered progress.
  • How many questions have I played so far?
    In the My Progress section, in the “Stats” section, you’ll see the “Questions” tab. It displays the number of questions correct out of the number of questions played. If you click on the Questions tab, you’ll see a graph of your progress over time for the total questions correct (yellow) over the total questions played (blue).
  • How do I see my points earning history?
    In the My Progress section, in the “Stats” section, you’ll see the “Points” tab. It displays the number of points you’ve earned. If you click on the Points tab, you’ll see a graph of your points earned over time.

MY PROFILE

  • Who can see My Profile?
    The Profile information is publicly available, and includes information about you that you provide, as well as your public vocabulary lists, your comments, and your achievements.
  • What’s on My Profile page?
    From the “My Profile” page, other users will see all your comments, any vocabulary lists that you’ve made public, and various personal items that you provide when you edit your profile. These include a personal description as well as your most and least favorite word. You'll also see a list of all of your achievements.

MY ACCOUNT

  • How do I change my password or email address?
    Go to the My Account page. Under the Account Information tab, you can change your email address, your password, and your name and any other personal information.
  • Where do I set my email preferences?
    Click on my account, and select the Email Preferences tab. You can select which emails are delivered, and what form those emails are in.

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