Frequently Asked Questions


What is the VocabularyTestOnline website?

The VocabularyTestOnline™ website provides adaptive question drill to build your vocabulary so you can score higher on the vocabulary portion of all kinds of tests — SAT, GRE, GMAT, ACT, TOEFL, PRAXIS, ASVAB, etc. — and go further in life!


What makes the VocabularyTestOnline website special?

Our special The software that knows you™ programming keeps track of your progress through the word lists.  Like a patient tutor, our intelligent repetition algorithm repeats each word optimally — ones that give you trouble are repeated sooner, while ones you get right are reviewed later.  Rather than repeating words at random, it focuses your study time where you need it.

If you create an account, you can return at a later date and pick up where you left off.


How much does it cost?

It's free!


Which tests does it cover?

The website includes over 5,000 words which are likely to appear on the SAT.  Of course, these words are likely to occur on many other tests, including the GRE, GMAT, ACT, TOEFL, PRAXIS, ASVAB, etc.

Why do I need to know all these words?

You don't.  However, the larger your vocabulary, the better you'll do on the various exams, which will help you get into a better college, which will help you get a better job, etc.  It's your future!


Is the VocabularyTestOnline website easy to use?

It's super-easy. One single click on your answer choice gives you feedback on your response and automatically presents the next word.  In fact, you don't have to click on the radio button for the answer; you can click anywhere within the answer text region.


How does the VocabularyTestOnline website decide which questions to present?

The program uses special formulas to calculate a "score" for each word, its estimate (on a scale from 0% to 100%) of how well you know its definition.  Some of the factors that go into this calculation are:

  • Your correct and incorrect answer history for the word.
  • How many times you use the Show answer and 50/50 buttons.
  • How difficult other students find the word.
  • How quickly you learned similar words.

The program presents words based on their current scores and on the elapsed time since they were last asked.  It tries to avoid repeating any word "too" soon.  It repeats ones with low scores sooner than ones with higher scores.  As the score for a word increases — as you start to master it — you see it less often.  The intelligent repetition algorithm matches the way people learn.

The program only presents new words when there are none overdue for a repeat.


How do I change the word scores?

You cannot directly edit a word's score, but you can affect it by consistently answering it correctly, or incorrectly.  In fact, if you want the program to drill a specific word more frequently, you can intentionally answer it wrong even when you know the right answer.  You can be certain that the word will appear again!

The User options screen also includes a Repetition delay factor option that influences the program's selection algorithm.  Increase this factor to increase the time between repetitions.  Decrease it to get more repetition.  Regardless of this setting, the program still uses intelligent repetition and shows you words with low scores sooner than ones with high scores.


Why does it sometimes ask for the word, and sometimes for the definition?

It's literally teaching you the words forwards and backwards.  Once you can consistently find the definition for the word, and the word for the definition, you have it mastered.


What if the VocabularyTestOnline website asks a question I don't know the answer to?

If you don't know the answer, your can guess.  Trying to puzzle out answer keeps the brain awake.  If you don't want to guess, press the Show answer button.


What does the Show answer button do?

The Show answer button shows you the correct answer.  Learn the word well, because the program's going to ask you again in a few minutes.  Repetition is the key to remembering!


What does the 50/50 button do?

Just as on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? the 50/50 button eliminates half of the wrong answers.  If you get the correct answer after pressing 50/50, you get partial credit for the question.


Is guessing bad?

Guessing is good.  It keeps the brain awake.  Also, incorrect guesses tell the program where you need work.  Guess away!


What are topics?

Click Choose topics and notice the hierarchy of topics.  In our initial launch, we have only one topic, the SAT vocabulary.  We hope to add more word lists later.


How are topic scores calculated?

Topic scores are a roll up of the scores of the questions in the topic and all its subtopics.  Your topic scores start out at zero.  As the question scores increase, the containing topic scores increase as well.  If the scores for all questions under a particular topic reach 100%, then the score for that topic becomes 100%.

Topic scores are a good way to get an idea of your progress through the material.  You don't need to reach 100% to get excellent scores on vocabulary exams, but the higher you go, the better your scores will be.

The topic scores are shown in square brackets in the gray topic header bar at the top of the Study screen, as well as on the Choose topics screen.

Note: Topic scores are normally calculated immediately after each question is answered.  However, when the system is busy, these calculations are sometimes briefly deferred.  Under these conditions the Topic scores, score bars, and user ranks displayed may be a couple of minutes out-of-date.


Why do my topic scores sometimes go down without me doing anything?

As time passes, information fades from memory.  The scores, which are the program's estimates of your knowledge, decrease over time to reflect this process.  If you want your knowledge and scores to stay at 100%, you have to keep coming back to review the material.


How do I interpret the "score bars"?

The score bars give you a graphical representation of your progress through the questions.  The pink section represents questions you have not yet seen, red is those you're actively learning, blue questions still need some review, and the green ones are completely learned.

Your score bars start out completely pink.  As you begin to study, you start to see some red, and then some blue.  Eventually some green starts to show, and it keeps growing as the pink shrinks.  Your goal should be to get rid of the pink and red, leaving only blue and green.


What is User Rank?

User rank shows how your total score compares to other student's.  You start at the bottom.  Do you have what it takes to get into the Top 10?


What is the Session score?

The Session score, displayed at the bottom of the button bar, shows how many questions you answered correctly, without assistance, the first time they were presented in the current login session.

Please note that the Session score only changes the first time you answer a particular question in a session.  Subsequent responses leave the Session score unchanged.


Why should I create an account?

Create an account so our The Software that Knows You™ database can track your personal progress, and next time you visit, you pick up studying  where you left off.  The program will remember which words gave you trouble and focuses your study time where you need it.

Note: If you do no return within a year, we will delete your question history to save room in the database.


Do I have to supply my name?

The View user list screen is similar to a Top Scores screen in a video game.  It lets you compare your progress against the progress of others.  You have to supply some name for display on this screen.  We encourage you to supply your full, real name.  However, some people enter only their first name, nickname, or initials.


Why does it ask for my birthday?

We use the birthdays to calculate the age of each user.  It's fun to see people's ages next to their scores on the View user list screen.

While we encourage you to enter your birthday, you are free to leave the field blank, which causes your age to display as 0.


Can I share my username/password with others?

You should not share your account with anyone else because your question history would become mixed with theirs, making the program ineffective for both of you.  The database would no longer correctly reflect which words each of you had already learned.


I found an error!

Please let us know about it.  Send an email to


Can I purchase the program on CD?

Our program is specifically written for the Web, and we have no plans to convert it for standalone use.  There are several advantages to having the program on the Web:

  • There is no software to download or install.
  • You can access your account from any Internet connection — home, work, school, library, etc.
  • Since all transactions go through our server, we can gather statistics on which words give people the most trouble, so we can focus on those words.

Copyright notice

You are welcome to visit this website, but reproducing or distributing the word lists, definitions, and any other content is strictly forbidden.

Some of the word lists and definitions on this site are Copyright © 2009, EEENI Inc. Nonprofit, Steve Baba, Ph.D., used under license.

Some are copyright: "WordNet Release 3.0 This software and database is being provided to you, the LICENSEE, by Princeton University under the following license. By obtaining, using and/or copying this software and database, you agree that you have read, understood, and will comply with these terms and conditions.: Permission to use, copy, modify and distribute this software and database and its documentation for any purpose and without fee or royalty is hereby granted, provided that you agree to comply with the following copyright notice and statements, including the disclaimer, and that the same appear on ALL copies of the software, database and documentation, including modifications that you make for internal use or for distribution. WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. THIS SOFTWARE AND DATABASE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND PRINCETON UNIVERSITY MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. BY WAY OF EXAMPLE, BUT NOT LIMITATION, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT- ABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR THAT THE USE OF THE LICENSED SOFTWARE, DATABASE OR DOCUMENTATION WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY THIRD PARTY PATENTS, COPYRIGHTS, TRADEMARKS OR OTHER RIGHTS. The name of Princeton University or Princeton may not be used in advertising or publicity pertaining to distribution of the software and/or database. Title to copyright in this software, database and any associated documentation shall at all times remain with Princeton University and LICENSEE agrees to preserve same."

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