Editor's note: A newer, completely revised edition of this product, Ultimate Vocabulary 2015, is available. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version of this product when we next update the Vocabulary Software Review site.
Ultimate Vocabulary can seem a little intimidating at first. With more than 180 different word lists and more than 140,000 vocabulary words, this vocabulary software is a lot to take in. However, this vocabulary building application allows you to learn at your own pace and customize your approach to learning new words. Whether you use a PC or a Mac, Ultimate Vocabulary has a host of tools and learning methods to help boost your verbal lexicon, such as flash cards, games and quizzes. It easily wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for the best vocabulary software.
No matter what learning style is best for you, Ultimate Vocabulary has you covered with a plethora of vocabulary activities. Flash cards, word matching, sentence completion, games, tests and more are all included in this software package. You select which process you'd like to use, and you can jump to another section at any time.
This application monitors where you spend your time and will show you a pie chart illustrating your activity usage. That way, you can see if you're spending too much time in the Fun With Words section, for example, and not enough time in the Discover Words section.
In the Discover Words section, you can choose regular flash cards, with a brief definition, or Power Flash Cards, with multiple definitions and synonyms. The flash cards scroll by, giving you a brief definition of each word. You can click the back button to re-read a word or scroll forward if you already know the word. You can add your own notes about a word as well. There is an option to pause the flash cards, but it's not obvious at first and requires the user to switch off the Auto feature. You can also create your own flash cards if there are specific words you'd like to work on.
Ultimate Vocabulary has an audio pronunciation feature, so you’ll know how the word sounds. The voice reading the words has a British accent, so American English speakers out there may find yourself pronouncing words with a bit of a British lilt; but don’t worry, Americans shouldn’t have too much difficulty differentiating between the two pronunciations, even with unfamiliar words. And, besides, there’s nothing wrong with a little British seasoning on your American verbal soufflé. There is a funny glitch in the "Word Recall" and "Contextual Recall" sections where, if you click the "Auto Play" audio option, it will pronounce the correct answer to the question before you've had a chance to guess it. You will also hear the answer to the question prematurely if you click "Hear Word."
Ultimate Vocabulary offers an impressive array of helpful tools for learning new words, allowing you to customize your learning strategies. You can discover certain words by using the flash cards. At any time, you can click the green checkmark on a word to let the application know that you've mastered it. The software will then present you with another word to learn.
Ultimate Vocabulary offers more vocabulary words than any other application we reviewed. It also has an interface that is very easy to navigate. The sidebar allows you to jump to any section of the application whenever you want. So, if you get tired of playing Clues Match, you can jump over to Word Search without having to finish the matching game. The methods the software implements to teach new words are effective, with plenty of instruction and repetition.
One of the most impressive aspects of Ultimate Vocabulary is that it works for any age group. The program also includes word lists for the GRE, SAT, TOEFL, Most Common English Words, English Conversation Words, Grades 1-10 and the GMAT. Each of these lists is divided into 10 different learning levels, which allows you to start with basic vocabulary words and then progress to ones that are more difficult when you feel you're ready. You can also create your own word lists if there is a group of new words you specifically want to learn.
When you encounter a new word in Ultimate Vocabulary, you will find a full definition, the origin of the word, synonyms, antonyms and more. This application will tell you if a word is a verb, noun, adjective or adverb, and it gives phonetic pronunciations for each word. This kind of detail is essential in helping a word and its meaning stick in your memory.
Some of the games are designed to help you learn how to spell the word, and the fill-in-the-blank exercises will help you learn how to use these words in a sentence. The definition of each word also includes the word in a sentence, which helps you see how to use the word. The only problem we encountered in this section is with the Power Examples. When you click on the Power Examples tab, the application shows up to 50 different usage examples.
If you have any problems with the software, you can contact customer support by phone or email. The company also has a 12-month money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the application. The Step-By-Step Success section on the sidebar features a number of tutorial videos where you can learn how to use Ultimate Vocabulary and what an improved vocabulary can do for you. Some of the videos have out-of-sync audio, but for the most part, they are informative and interesting.
Other vocabulary builder applications only focus on a certain learning area. Ultimate Vocabulary works well for students studying for tests, adults looking to improve their comprehension and those who are learning the English language. The software lets you study the level of words you want to study, at the pace you set. It is because of the thoroughness and flexibility of this application that we find Ultimate Vocabulary to be the best vocabulary software available.
Ultimate Vocabulary features almost 145,000 words and a wide variety of learning activities.
The application has some glitches in the audio pronunciations.
Because of its large word database and multiple games and activities, Ultimate Vocabulary is a powerful tool for building your vocabulary.