Aug 4, 2012

How Grains of Rice Can Improve Your Test Scores

Once upon a time, a guy named John Breen came up with an idea for getting sponsors with deep pockets to contribute money toward feeding the hungry.  At the same time, he hoped to impart a few good words on a vocabulary starved world. was born and billions of grains of rice later, poor people in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Uganda are being fed while kids in other parts of the world develop basic skills.

And it’s wicked fun. There’s no log-in, no personal information is collected, and you’re not bombarded with advertising. You simply decide now is a good time to work on vocabulary or on one of several subjects, and visit the site. Each time you choose a correct answer, you earn 10 grains of rice paid for by one of the sponsors listed at the foot of the page.

Without being too dramatic, it’s fair to say a Madison High School student can invest an hour of time working on vocabulary and easily send enough rice across the world to feed a family for an entire day. What could be more rewarding?

Anyone prepping for college entrance exams knows that basic vocabulary is key to bringing home top scores. FreeRice starts you out with easy words and through the magic of "machine learning" builds to a level on which the program feels you need work. Or you can manually set the vocabulary level.

Independent educational consultants testing the game agree that basic ACT/SAT vocabulary may be found on levels 30 and 40. Much higher levels begin to get into specialized vocabulary that while helpful isn’t necessary until you’ve mastered the basics.

But it’s not just vocabulary. The English grammar tests are well worth exploring, particularly if your Critical Reading or Writing scores were not has high as hoped. At levels 4 and 5, the game tests the kind of tricky grammar the College Board loves to use.

You can also work on vocabulary development in other languages. FreeRice has games in French, Spanish, Italian, and German. Or you can get ready for AP Art History, by taking the famous paintings quiz. Chemistry, geography, and very basic math round out the subject areas presented on the site.

To date, visitors to have generated funding for over 96 billion grains of rice. The United Nations World Food Programme and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society are partners along with dozens of sponsors.

For more information or to begin learning and earning, visit FreeRice and start filling the little wooden bowl.                 

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