Overview

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

Calibration

The first step in training on Membean is calibration. Our calibration process determines the word list and the level within that list that you will start 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 your vocabulary knowledge. Although rare, it's possible to calibrate at a level that is higher than the one you should have been placed in. To compensate for this, Membean will verify that you are proficient in the words that are one level below the level that you calibrated into.

At this point, you may find it helpful to understand the word lists that Membean offers. Once you have calibrated to a level on a particular word list, you 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 you progress through the level that you were calibrated at, you will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once you have completed all of the Level 3 words, Membean will also ensure that you are proficient in the words that are one level below where you 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.

If you calibrate at Level 3, Membean will ensure that you know all the words from Level 2 as well. If you calibrate at Level 1, you will progress through all of the words for this word list. Once this sequence has been completed, you will automatically progress to 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 you  progress through the level that you were calibrated at, you will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once you have completed all of the Level 5 words, Membean will also ensure that you are proficient in the words that are one level below where you 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.

If you calibrate at Level 1, you will progress through all of the words for this word list. Once this sequence has been completed, you will automatically progress to 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 you progress through the level that you were calibrated at, you will see words from the next level in the wordlist. Once you have completed all of the Level 6 words, Membean will also ensure that you are proficient in all of the words that are below the level you 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 will then see 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 you may not know "easier" words that you have not encountered in your reading. By "sweeping back" to prior levels, we are able to be confident that you 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 your score. Brushing up on lower level words acts as a safeguard against this possibility.

Training Advice

When studying lower level words, we encourage you to make use of the "I Know This" option. However, you should be cautious in its use, as you may be convinced that you know the meaning of a word just because you have seen it before. However, it may be a different meaning of the word than what you have encountered previously, or you may not know the word's exact nuance. Our philosophy is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Doing so will ensure that you know all the words that you need to know.