You may have noticed that sometimes your students move down a level after finishing the highest level in their current word list. This article explains how students progress through levels and why they sometimes move back before they move forward.

When Do Students Move Down a Level?

When students finish the highest level of their first word list, they will circle down to the level below where they calibrated before moving on to the next word list. They do not need to complete all previous levels unless they started on the High School List.

For example, if they calibrate onto Level 3 of the Lower Middle School or Middle-High School List, they will circle down to Level 2 of that list before proceeding to the next list. If they calibrate onto Level 3 of the High School List, they will circle down to Level 2 and Level 1 to sweep up any new words they do not know.

Here are a few examples of what circling down looks like on each word list. 

Why Does it Work this Way?

While the Membean Word Lists are carefully organized to increase in difficulty, vocabulary acquisition is not linear. Students often know "harder" words without knowing "easier" words. Gaps in vocabulary knowledge at the lower levels will impact reading comprehension and inhibit progressive vocabulary development to a greater degree than gaps at the higher levels because words on the lower levels have a greater frequency and dispersion. In other words, students will encounter the "easier" words more often, and they will use these words to make sense of more challenging vocabulary. By circling down to prior levels, we can be confident that students are getting the best vocabulary education that we can provide.

Further, some tests, such as the ACT, use adaptive 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.

How Can Students Progress More Quickly? 

Especially when studying lower level words, students are encouraged to make use of the "I Know This" option. Of course, they should be cautious in its use, as they may be convinced 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 nuances of the word. Any word selected as IKT is considered Quizzable; these words won't show up in the trainer, but they will show up on assessments.