Frequently Asked Questions

Who is behind the Word-Nerd curtain?
Word-Nerd was developed by standardized test experts with degrees in psychology, sociology and law. Our experience teaching standardized test classes and our knowledge of psychology-based learning theories made us realize that there was a more effective way for students to learn vocabulary words.
How is Word-Nerd different from other vocabulary tutorial products and what are these learning theories you keep on mentioning?
Word-Nerd is based upon psychology-based learning theories which teach that identification is a more effective tool of learning than memorization. Word-Nerd uses the unique concept of SmartSets™ to help students identify vocabulary words. Each of our 120 SmartSets includes vocabulary words with a common theme. For example, the “Athletic” SmartSet lists words that all describe the physical attributes often associated with athletes, such as “nimble” and “brawny.” By studying the SmartSets, students learn the words based on identification instead of memorization. This approach allows a student to answer SAT and PSAT vocabulary-based questions more easily because the student is able to associate vocabulary words in his or her mind with the SmartSet themes and the other words in the SmartSet, which under learning theory is a more effective methodology than rote memorization of words in isolation.
In addition to the SmartSets, Word-Nerd reinforces the meaning of vocabulary words through quizzes designed to bolster learning. “No-fail” strategies are used for the most important questions on each quiz. Students never complete a quiz until they demonstrate that they understand the meaning of the words quizzed in these questions. Repetition, as well as no opportunity to fail, further enhances learning. AddItionally, the site allows students to track their progress by recording their scores on the quizzes. Students can also take longer, more comprehensive vocabulary tests, and these test scores are also recorded on the site.
Finally, Word-Nerd teaches students the most common and important word roots to even further reinforce meaning. Students can therefore use their knowledge of roots in addition to SmartSet identification to help them determine the meanings of standardized test vocabulary words.
Hopefully, too, Word-Nerd is more fun than other products and classes!
Why do I need to use Word-Nerd since I am already signed up with one of the big test prep companies?
The big test prep companies do not emphasize vocabulary. However, every test question you answer correctly, especially the more challenging ones, can leapfrog you ahead of hundreds, even thousands, of other test-takers.  Spending time studying vocabulary can really boost your test scores.

Why use Word-Nerd when I can buy a SAT vocabulary book or flashcards, or use a free vocab website?

We strongly believe that the use of SmartSets, as described above, allows for the most efficient and effective use of a student's time.  No other vocabulary product comes close to offering anything similar. In other words, you get what you pay for!

What about the SSAT, ISEE or HSPT?

You can certainly use Word-Nerd to prepare for any of these tests. Please be aware though that Word-Nerd is designed for high school students studying for the SAT and PSAT, so it may not be appropriate for younger students. We believe an advanced junior high school student would be challenged but certainly not overwhelmed. You can look at the sample words in the Guided Tour for a sense of the difficulty of our vocabulary words.

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How many vocabulary words does Word-Nerd teach?
Word-Nerd’s database currently contains approximately 1,500 vocabulary words. These words have been selected because of the greater probability that they will appear on future SAT and PSAT tests based on their usage on previous tests. While some vocabulary tutorial products provide 5,000 or more words to memorize, we believe that it is far more efficient for students to focus their energy on the 1,500 or so targeted words taught by Word-Nerd. Furthermore, our word database is continuously updated to reflect standardized test trends.
Are all the vocabulary words organized into SmartSets™?
Virtually all of our vocabulary words are thematically organized into SmartSets. However, a few important words are so unique that they do not fall into any SmartSet. We have therefore created three additional “catch-all” SmartSets to capture these random words.

What information does Word-Nerd provide about each vocabulary word?

For each vocabulary word in the Word-Nerd database, we provide (i) a definition for the word, (ii) the part of speech for its usage, (iii) an audio pronunciation, (iv) an example of the word used in a sentence, (v) the SmartSet to which it belongs, (vi) alternative forms of the word, and (vii) any additional important definition of the word along with part of speech information and usage in a sentence for the additional definition. Word-Nerd’s definitions are the most tested definitions, not necessarily the primary definition you might find if you looked up the word in a dictionary. However, we do include secondary definitions of some words when appropriate.

The alternative forms of a word referenced in (vi) above are different parts of speech of the same word, all falling under the same definition.  For example, the adjective “penurious,” meaning “impoverished” could also be used as a noun (“penury”). This same word also has an additional important definition - “stingy or miserly” - and this definition is also included along with usage in a sentence.

What if I take the SAT or PSAT and see unfamiliar vocabulary words?
Although we believe that the approximately 1,500 vocabulary words taught by Word-Nerd have the highest probability of appearing on the SAT and PSAT, we cannot guarantee that any particular word will indeed appear on a given test. Likewise, we cannot guarantee that a particular test will contain only vocabulary words in the Word-Nerd database. The standardized test writers are unpredictable, and therefore we must deal with probabilities with respect to which words will appear on a given test. Our word database is continuously updated to reflect test trends and we are certainly open to suggestions.
Regardless, studying SmartSets and the roots taught by Word-Nerd can still prepare you for unfamiliar words. Word-Nerd teaches common themes and elements among words, and students can use these abilities to discern the meanings of words they have never previously encountered.
Does Word-Nerd list every possible definition for its vocabulary words?
No. Word-Nerd is not intended to function as a dictionary. Instead, we focus on the word forms and meanings most likely to appear on standardized tests in order to reduce our users’ brain clutter.

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What are SmartSets™?
SmartSets are groups of vocabulary words associated with common themes, such as “color” or “eating.” In some cases, the words in a SmartSet may simply be synonyms, while in other cases they have some common thematic element. To reinforce learning, each SmartSet contains a unique, thematic cartoon of Sheldon the Word-Nerd.
Users can click on any of the vocabulary words listed in a SmartSet to see additional information about the word, such as its definition, part of speech, use in a sentence, etc. In addition, users have the option of taking a quiz about each SmartSet and the site records all quiz scores to monitor progress. The quizzes are designed to be different each time they are taken, so a user can take them over and over without seeing repeat questions.
In cases where our vocabulary words have multiple definitions, the word has been placed in a SmartSet based on our primary definition.
How many SmartSets™ does Word-Nerd contain?
There are 120 SmartSets, each containing a minimum of five words.
Can a vocabulary word appear in more than one SmartSet™?
No. In cases where a word could logically fall in multiple SmartSets, we have placed it in the SmartSet that has the most specific meaning. A few important vocabulary words were not placeable in any SmartSet, and these appear in three additional sets of unrelated words, listed as Random List #1, Random List #2, and Random List #3.
How come a SmartSet I studied yesterday is slightly different today?
We continuously update our word database to reflect standardized test trends. Therefore, we may add a new word to a SmartSet if we believe it has a likelihood of being tested. Less frequently, we may eliminate a word if we believe it is too obscure and unlikely to appear on a test. The words in each SmartSet are also presented in random order each time you visit a SmartSet page.

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What is the difference between a root, a prefix and a suffix?
A root is the primary linguistic element of a word and could theorerically fall anywhere within the word. A prefix on the other hand always appears before the stem of the word while a suffix always appears after the stem. So a root could be a prefix, a suffix or neither. The difference between roots, prefixes and suffixes is relatively minor and it is most important to understand that all three are the building blocks used to create words.
Is Word-Nerd’s list of roots, prefixes and suffixes comprehensive?
No. A comprehensive list would be overwhelming and filled with obscure, rarely used roots, prefixes and suffixes. Word-Nerd’s list contains those roots, prefixes and suffixes that we consider to be most useful for preparing for the SAT and PSAT. We encourage you to supplement your learning with additional roots, prefixes and suffixes you learn in school.

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 What is the difference between a quiz and a test?
Quizzes are directly related to specific SmartSets and contain questions solely about that SmartSet. Each quiz is approximately ten questions long. All SmartSets have quizzes with the exception of the extra “catch-all” sets Random List #1, Random List #2, and Random List #3. You can take a quiz directly from the individual SmartSet pages or from the Homepage.
Tests are each thirty questions long and cover all vocabulary material on the site. As opposed to quizzes, which require knowledge of specific SmartSets, tests are designed to be a comprehensive test of your vocabulary knowledge. You can take a test from the Homepage.
In addition, quizzes are designed to reinforce learning of the words in a given SmartSet. To further this objective, the quizzes are structured to ask additional questions about a word if your answers to certain quiz questions indicate that you have not mastered the word.
How many times can I take quizzes and tests?
Quizzes and tests are designed to be different each time you take them, so you can take them as many times as you want without seeing repeat questions. 
Are my quiz and test scores tracked?
Yes. The site tracks all quiz and test scores for the sole purpose of allowing you to monitor your progress. You can view your previous scores from the Homepage.

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So I’ve signed up - now what?

Every student who registers for Word-Nerd is starting with a different level of knowledge, so we do not have a prescribed course of study.  However, we do have some general suggestions for getting the most out of the site.

  1. First, take a test to get a baseline.  You are not going to ace it, of course, but it gives you a starting point to track your progress over time.
  2. Create a study plan based on the amount of time you have until the big day.  While Word-Nerd may be helpful even if you have only a week to prepare, we hope you have given yourself at least a month.  With that much time, you should plan to study approximately five SmartSets per day. 
  3. You may want to study the SmartSets alphabetically to help you keep track.  Spend some time with each set and click every word to see its definition, even if it is a word you think you already know.  When you’re ready, take a quiz before moving on to the next SmartSet.  Quizzes help you determine whether you’ve really mastered a SmartSet, and they’ll help you track which sets you’ve studied. You may want to take multiple quizzes for the longer SmartSets.
  4. When you’ve mastered about half of the SmartSets, take another test.  You should see a lot of progress!  From this point, take another test every couple of days.  Go back to review and take quizzes on sets you haven’t visited in a while in the week before test day.
  5. Take a break the night before the test, then go in and ace it!
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How much does Word-Nerd cost?
A 12-month subscription costs $69 and our 30-day "Cram Plan" costs just $25.  You can pay via PayPal, Mastercard, Visa or Discover.
How do I register?
It’s easy. You can register from the homepage of the site or simply click here. It takes just a couple of minutes and you will be ready to go!
How do I register if I do not live in the United States?
International users can register via PayPal.
I registered, but the confirmation email never arrives.
If your email client has a spam filter, check your spam folder to see if our email got misdirected. If that is not the case, your internet provider may be mistakenly blocking our email. Contact us and we can resend the email. Regardless, you do not need to receive the confirmation email to be able to use Word-Nerd – simply login with your new username and password!
Will you keep my registration information private?
Absolutely! Under no circumstances, no way, no how, will we ever reveal any of our user’s confidential information to anyone. Furthermore, we have taken every precaution to make our site as secure as possible from outside attacks. You can view our Privacy Policy here.

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Yep. For each person who successfully signs up on the site and who lists you as a referral during the registration process, you will receive a $5® gift certificate.
To make things easier for you to refer friends and relatives to Word-Nerd, we have created an automated email that you can send them. Simply click on the “Refer a friend for a $5® gift certificate” link on the Homepage and enter the email addresses of the people who you would like to refer to Word-Nerd. In order to avoid spamming abuse, you can only send ten automated emails per day.

Please check with your friends and relatives to be sure they receive any automated emails that you send. If someone did not receive an email you sent, it is possible that the email was placed in his or her spam folder. As an alternative, feel free to send your own emails through your own email system.
Is there a limit on the number of gift certificates I can receive?
No. You can receive an unlimited amount. So, if you refer 100 new subscribers to the site, you would receive $500 worth of® gift certificates! However, please be aware that if we suspect you are spamming strangers or otherwise abusing this feature of the site, we have the right to terminate your account.
Do I have to send out an automated email to receive a $5 gift certificate?
No. The automated email feature is merely intended to be a convenience so you can easily let your friends and relatives know about Word-Nerd. The key to receiving gift certificates is for your referrals to enter your email address during the registration process when prompted. This email address must be the same one Word-Nerd has on file for you.
I made a referral.  When will I receive my $5 gift certificate?
You will receive your $5 gift certificate via email within ten days of Word-Nerd receiving valid payment from your referee.

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Where should I go to try out my new and improved vocabulary skills?

We recommend two books by The College Board, The Official SAT Study Guide and 10 Real SAT's, both of which include actual tests.  These are great practice not just for sentence completions, but the rest of the SAT, too!

For the ACT, check out The Real ACT Prep Guide by ACT, Inc., which includes several practice tests as well. 

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Does Sheldon enjoy social networking?
Of course! Sheldon has a Facebook page and a Twitter page.  He likes to run contests on his Facebook page for which you become eligible by becoming his fan, and he likes to use his favorite vocabulary words to tweet about current events, standardized test news, and the goings-on in his life.
Is Sheldon available to take me to my prom?
Yes, but his social calendar is very crowded with spelling bees, so you may want to have a back-up date on call.
Does he bite?

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SAT and PSAT are registered trademarks of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.