Overview

You may have noticed that sometimes your students will see words during training that belong to a lower level than the level into which they originally calibrated. This article explains why this happens by outlining how a student progresses through each level as they train.

Calibration

The first step in training on Membean is calibration. Our calibration process determines which word list a student is assigned, and the level within that list that a student will start their training on. However, calibration can be somewhat inexact at times. In order to keep the calibration time down, we can only ask a limited number of questions to gauge where a student is with their vocabulary knowledge. Although rare, sometimes a student may calibrate at a level that is higher than the one they probably should have been placed in. To compensate for this, Membean will verify that the student is proficient in the words that are one level below the level that they calibrated into.

At this point, you may find it helpful to understand the word lists that Membean offers. However, once a student has been calibrated to a level on a particular word list, they will progress through those levels in the following manner:

The Lower Middle School List

Our Lower Middle School word list has 500 words, and is divided into 3 levels. When a student progresses through the level that they were calibrated at, they will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once a student has completed all of the Level 3 words, Membean will also ensure that they are proficient in the words that are one level below where they calibrated.  

For example, as illustrated above, a student that calibrates at Level 2 will see all of the words from that level. They will then see all of the words from Level 3. When they complete all of the Level 3 words, Membean will ensure that they know all the words from Level 1 as well, since that is one level below where they calibrated.

Naturally, if a student calibrates at Level 3, Membean will ensure that they know all the words from Level 2 as well. A student that calibrates at Level 1 will progress through all of the words for this word list. Once this sequence has been completed, a student will automatically progress the next word list.

The Middle-High School List

Our Middle-High School word list has 1,630 words, and is divided into 5 levels. Like the Lower Middle School list, when a student progresses through the level that they were calibrated at, they will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once a student has completed all of the Level 5 words, Membean will also ensure that they are proficient in the words that are one level below where they calibrated.

For example, as illustrated above, a student that calibrates at Level 3 will see all of the words from that level. They will then see all of the words from Level 4, and then Level 5. When they complete all of the Level 5 words, Membean will ensure that they know all the words from Level 2 as well, since that is one level below where they calibrated.

In the same manner, if a student calibrates at Level 4, Membean will ensure that they know all the words from Level 3 after they complete Level 5, and so forth depending on the level they started at. A student that calibrates at Level 1 will progress through all of the words for this word list. Once this sequence has been completed, a student will automatically progress the next word list.

The High School List

Our High School word list has 2,156 words, and is divided into 6 levels. Like the other two lists, when a student progresses through the level that they were calibrated at, they will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once a student has completed all of the Level 6 words, Membean will also ensure that they are proficient in all of the words that are below the level they calibrated at (this is different than the other two lists).

For example, as illustrated above, a student that calibrates at Level 3 will see all of the words from that level. They will then see all of the words from Level 4, Level 5, and then Level 6. However, because this is the highest word list that Membean offers, when a student student completes all of the Level 6 words, Membean will ensure that they know the words from all of the levels below the one they calibrated into.

In other words, a student that calibrates at Level 4 and subsequently completes all the words from Level 6, Membean will then show them words from Level 3. When they complete these words, they'll be shown words from Level 2, and then Level 1. This ensures that the student doesn't have any gaps in their vocabulary knowledge.

Why does it work this way?

There are a few reasons that Membean behaves this way, all of which revolve around an abundance of caution. The English lexicon is vast, and it's always possible that a student may not know "easier" words that they have not encountered in their reading. By "sweeping back" to prior levels, we are able to be confident that students are getting the best vocabulary education that we can provide.

Some tests, such as the SAT and ACT, are adaptive in their scoring. This means that making a mistake on an "easier" word will disproportionately lower the student's score. Brushing up on lower level words acts as a safeguard against this possibility.

Training Tips:

When studying lower level words, students are encouraged to make use of the "I Know This" option during training. However, they should be cautious in its use, as they may be convinced that they know the meaning of a word just because they have seen it before. However, it may be a different meaning of the word than they have encountered previously, or they may not know the word's exact nuance. Our philosophy is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Students should use the tool to their full advantage, but we want to make absolutely sure that they know all the words that they need to know.