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Online Crossword: How Well Do You Understand Academic Instructions?

This online crossword reviews essential academic vocabulary for school assignments and test-taking. These are the words you need to understand in order to follow instructions, from very common words like explain and describe to more specialized vocabulary like infer, distinguish, and evidence.

You will find these words repeatedly on essay and other class assignments, and on tests, from an English final or state yearly testing to the TOEFL, IELTS, and SAT. So it’s important to know exactly what each word means and what you are expected to do. 

(There is an excellent discussion of the importance of these words for testing at Visual Thesaurus’ blog. It’s written for teachers, but also includes some diagrams of relationships between the various words.

It refers to Jim Burke’s A List, which was part of the inspiration for this crossword. The student or teacher pdfs you can download there give his list of 15 crucial words and explain more clearly the differences between them.)

A little over half the words on this crossword are from the Academic Word List.  The others are even more common. Most are verbs for giving instructions (though I also included some noun forms related to such verbs.) You almost certainly;'know' many of them, Do you know what they ask you to do?

Online Crossword: Essential Academic Vocabulary

Instructions: Click on a number in the grid to see the clue or clues for that number. Type your answer into the box to the right of the clue, then press “Enter.”. (All the clues are visible at once at the bottom of the grid.) Some of the spaces on  the puzzle are smaller than they should be, but they will expand to fit the letters as you enter the words.

Complete the crossword, then click on "Check" to check your answers. If you are stuck, you can click on "Hint" (the tiny box to the right of "enter") to get a free letter. There are also a few hints at the bottom of this page.

Good luck, and enjoy the challenge!

             1    2            
       3          4            
            6            7     
8               9    10            
13                 14            
                 17         18   
19            20                 
             21    22      23        


3. to show how two things are similar (alike)
4. to help someone understand the meaning of something in another language or medium
5. giving reasons and evidence to show why one idea or choice is better than another
6. relationships joining different things or ideas
10. to combine several groups into one
11. pictures or examples that explain something or make it clearer
12. to arrange things in a logical order or sequence
13. to use evidence to back up an argument (or to believe in and help a person or organization)
14. to briefly restate the main ideas
15. to show how two things are different
17. to draw a picture with words
19. a complete change

21. details applying to one particular person or situation, not just in general
24. like or closely related to something else
26. to consider the possibilities in order to reach a definite decision
27. observations or information that can lead to a conclusion
28. convincing; able to change someone’s mind
29. to understand


1. to help something grow stronger or better
2. to show the difference between two things
7. to put together different things or ideas to make something new
8. to show how to do something
9. the end results reached by thinking about something
16. to study something closely by examining its parts and how they fit together
18. to judge or set a value on something
20. moving from one thought or condition to another
22. to clarify (help someone understand) the reasons for something or how it works
23. to recognize or point out a specific person or thing
25. to make a logical guess based on the evidence

More Practice with this Vocabulary (& a Hint)

Much of EnglishHints is devoted to academic vocabulary practice, (or integrated reading and practice), but three pages demonstrate all but four of the words on this crossword: Essay Organization, Scientific Method Vocabulary, and Proofreading Practice. (Top 100 List of Vocabulary Words has all but five in its first two sections.)

You might want to read those pages to get an idea of how these words are used. A form of each of the remaining four words can be found in the paragraph above or in the page introduction.

More Crosswords

There’s another online crossword, as well as a review of the structure and function of nerves, at Nervous System Vocabulary. However, most of EnglishHint’s crosswords for practicing academic vocabulary are pdfs.

You can find them at Printable Crossword Puzzles. There are also several word search puzzles on the Interactive Vocabulary Games page below.

Home> Interactive Vocabulary Games> Online Crossword -- Essential Academic Vocabulary.

Didn't find what you needed? Explain what you want in the search box below. (For example, cognates, past tense practice, or 'get along with.') Click to see the related pages on EnglishHints.

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