Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Finding ways to improve vocabulary is a good idea for anyone, but the necessity of doing so may be most apparent in the life of a student. For a student, increased vocabulary comprehension can aid you in the classroom and on tests. Vocabulary software like WordSmart High School Excellence not only helps you excel in your studies through high school, but it can assist you in getting into a university of your choice and finding a better job once you graduate. In other words, it can enrich all aspects of your life.
WordSmart comes on a set of CD-ROMs with more than 5,000 pronounced words on each disc. Each disc provides you with 200 core words from those 5,000 that are essential for the mastery of the English language. Each disc contains the same five sections: Multiple Choice, Flash Cards, Column Matching, sentence completion and Word Shark. These sections are intentionally repetitive to help you learn the words, but it can become tedious as well. It is easy to use and offers a large vocabulary database.
WordSmart High School Excellence begins with a preliminary exam that will help you determine where to start your vocabulary improvement experience. After taking the WordSmart Challenge, the application will tell you which volume to begin with and such information an approximate SAT score and suggested occupations based on your results, and even an estimate of how much you can hope to make in your career. No matter which volume you begin with, you will find the same five sections on each disc. While you can pick and choose which sections to utilize, the WordSmart doesn't have the variety of teaching tools that we found in other vocabulary software.
The WordSmart does not display phonetic pronunciations alongside the words, but the multiple-choice section plays the audio pronunciation for each new word, as well as for each one of the options. If you choose the wrong word, WordSmart High School Excellence will show you an extended definition of the new word. You can also choose to have a full definition displayed after every word. The audio cues along with the definitions are a great way to help you expand your vocabulary.
After learning new words in the multiple choice and flash card sections, you can then use the column matching, spelling and word shark sections to test your skills. Column matching works much like the multiple-choice section, where you match a word to its synonym. Word shark is the same concept, but this time you get to shoot plungers at sharks with synonyms written on their sides. The repetition in the synonym matching section, while sometimes monotonous, is an effective way to learn the words.
With more than 20,000 words to learn, WordSmart offers plenty of opportunities to learn. Word Smart High School Excellence includes volumes C through F, as well as the WordSmart Challenge, Progressive Reader and Mastermind. This series of CD-ROMs is geared toward high school students and college students.
The program also includes word histories and ways that the word is commonly misused, to help you avoid making those common mistakes. The program is designed to help you dramatically improve you vocabulary by using it for 20 minutes two days a week. Some people may need to devote more time than that, but a little time goes a long way with the vocabulary-building techniques WordSmart employs.
As previously mentioned, this vocabulary software doesn't have written phonetic pronunciations, but it does have audio pronunciations. Each disc includes 5,000 pronounced words, 1,400 defined words and 200 essential core words that you focus most of your attention on. This makes it manageable, while directing you toward the words with the most heft.
The definitions include plenty of information regarding the words, including their history, derivations, origins, synonyms and antonyms. The multiple-choice section displays the word being used in a sentence, and the spelling section, obviously, will help you learn to spell the word correctly.
If you need help using WordSmart High School Excellence, the CD-ROMs feature helpful tutorials and videos. You can also find a FAQs page on the WordSmart website. If you need additional help, you can contact the WordSmart customer support team by phone or by using the contact form on the website. We found that using the WordSmart phone support system is faster and more effective than WordSmart's email support.
WordSmart's method of repetition and structure can be either helpful or tiresome, depending on how you prefer to learn. Each disc of WordSmart High School Excellence has the same educational activities. The software isn’t as diverse as other vocabulary we reviewed and is driven mostly by matching a new word to a synonym. Nevertheless, the audio pronunciations, the extensive definitions and the spelling activity are all useful tools to help you learn and retain new words. WordSmart can help you improve your language skills, which will help you in the classroom and excel on tests, while helping you prepare for life after high school.