Learning vocabulary by doing quizzes

This page gives learners information about the numerous quizzes on this site and advises them on the best ways to learn the words presented.


This website contains a large number of vocabulary quizzes of different types. In many cases the quizzes contain up to 20 words which are all related to a particular topic: e.g. money or health and injury. If you return to the same topic two or three times and answer the quiz questions, you should learn the new words quite quickly.

Active learning

But this way of doing things is a little passive. @ To learn words more quickly, it's best to do something with them. ~ Once you have chosen which ones are important for you to learn to use yourself (not just to understand), you could write them down and add your own definition or a translation of the word in your own language. If you have an electronic dictionary or use an online dictionary, you can hear how the word is pronounced and then practise saying it yourself.

You could also find extra grammatical information about the word in the dictionary. For example, if the word is a verb, you could find out if it is regular or not. If the word is a noun, you could determine if it is a count or uncount noun.

Learning words in context

@@ It is a good idea to try to learn important new words in a typical expression. ~~ For example, instead of just learning that to beg means to ask very strongly, you could learn the expression She begged me not to tell anyone.

Learning that recently means in the last few days or weeks is good, but learning it in the expression Have you seen any good films recently? is better. This reminds you that the word is often used in with a present perfect verb.

For this reason, in some of the site quiz modes you can read an example sentence which contains the word in a typical expression.

Vocabulary cards

Of course, @@@ if you try to use the words in your own speaking and writing, you will remember them all the more quickly. ~~~ An excellent way to actively learn the new words you find in the online quizzes is to make vocabulary cards of the words you decide are the most important.

Advice for advanced learners

Some of the quizzes (type 1) are organized into semantic groups of the same part of speech. For example, the Ways of saying quiz contains 20 verbs.

Other quizzes (type 2), such as Illness and injury contain words related to the topic but of varying parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). Still other quizzes type 3 contain words that have no semantic or thematic connection.

Recent research* suggests that it is easier to learn words from quiz types 2 and 3 than from quiz type 1. My advice, therefore, is this: Instead of trying to learn all the words in a type 1 quiz at the same time, learn four or five from that quiz and a similar number from a couple of other quizzes. Then return to the same quizzes and learn different words. Repeat this until all the words have been learned.


Of course, it is for you to choose the methods by you learn words. Nevertheless, it is helpful to know what research into learning vocabulary teaches us about the most effective practices. You might want to try out the advice in the paragraph above and see if it works.


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