Memorize—one of the dreaded words for college students. Lectures you can listen to, notes you can take yourself, but to memorize something, you have no choice but to sit down and drill it over and over again into your head. Maybe it’s history facts, maybe it’s vocabulary terms, maybe it’s equations, either way, you’re left with nothing but monotonous reciting and copying. Or are you?
Online flashcard sites seek to make studying and memorizing more than just rote repeating. These study sites use virtual flashcards, games, and other tools to make memorizing those formulas a little less, well, formulaic. But with more sites than there are terms on that massive vocabulary list, how can you know which one is best? Are these sites worth paying for? And is using these sites cheating?
In this review we’ll look into Quizlet, one of the largest of these flashcard sites, to see if it is right for you.
What Is Quizlet?
Quizlet was born out of a French test—or rather, the study methods Andrew Sutherland used to ace that French test in 2005. As he began sharing his methods with others, and those others began acing their tests as well, it grew from an idea to a company. No longer a small idea, it now boasts over 50 million monthly learners, over 3 billion study sessions, and 350 million user-created study sets.
Quizlet is founded on the idea that “anyone can learn anything,” and seeks to “make every student unstoppable.” Quizlet utilizes virtual flashcards, games, and study tools for both students and teachers, and their methods appear to be working—as over 90% of users report higher grades after studying through the site.
How Quizlet Works
To use Quizlet, you have to first create an account, using your email, as well as choosing a username that will be displayed with your account.
Once you create an account, you have the option to search for already-made online flashcard sets, or to make your own. You can browse through categories such as languages, biology, or arts and humanities, finding sets on each topic. Alternatively, if you’re studying in a larger class, you can join an online class that is already made, or create one yourself so all the students can study using the same sets.
Creating your own sets is easy. Simply click “create,” input the terms on one side, the definition on the other, and continue adding cards until you have typed in all your terms. You can also add a diagram with labels, such as a diagram of the human body or countries on a map, to study as well. Once your set is complete, you have the option to include it into a folder for your own personal organization, to share it to a class for others to see, or to begin studying it right away.
Once you create your cards, there’s several ways to study them. On Flashcard mode, you simply click through the cards to see each side, exactly like holding a physical stack of flashcards. On Learn mode, Quizlet uses an interactive, adaptive method to help you remember the terms, progressing in difficulty as you go, reviewing the terms that are giving you trouble. You can also write or spell the terms out, typing out the answer either from reading the question or hearing it out loud. Test is another option, a simple online quiz that Quizlet creates out of your questions.
But it’s not all hard work—Quizlet includes two games, Match and Gravity, to ensure that learning is still fun. Match is a timed exercise, where you see how quickly you can match the terms with their correct answers—seeing if you can beat your previous high score. Gravity is another engaging game—you must destroy asteroids by typing to correct answer to the question on them, protecting the planet below from being destroyed.
How Quizlet Works For Teachers
Teachers can use Quizlet in some helpful ways for their classroom as well. Just as any other user, they can find study material, or create their own—but Quizlet also gives them the option of hosting live games. In these games, all the students in the class are placed into random teams, and race against each other to be the first to answer all the questions correctly. This allows teachers to integrate online learning more into the classroom, or into the quarantine-lives that many students are now experiencing.
Is Quizlet Cheap?
The majority of Quizlet’s services are free, and can be used by anyone who creates an account. This includes creating flashcards, joining classes, and using almost all of the features that Quizlet offers. However, Quizlet does offer two levels of premium content for its users.
The first level, Quizlet Go, costs $1 a month, and allows students to study their sets offline, as well as remove the ads from the site—ads which can be very distracting, especially when you are trying to focus on studying.
The second level of premium content is Quizlet Plus, costing $1.99 a month. With Plus, you get both the features of Go, along with many more. The diagrams, which usually only allow 8 terms, can now have as many as you wish. You can add audio/visual elements into your flashcards, as well as specialized text to highlight or italicize or bold terms, and you can also scan documents straight into the site to create sets more quickly.
For teachers, Plus also includes the option to track the progress of students in their class, seeing which terms they have mastered, and which are still giving students difficulty. Teachers also have the ability to customize the live games, able to switch up teams as well as the theme of the game.
Considering the options that Quizlet Plus offers, and the price that’s basically pocket change, Quizlet’s premium option is certainly cheap, and worth the price.
Is Quizlet Cheating?
The main issue that any study site runs into is the question of cheating. Many point out that these sites can be used to give answers to test questions, or that the entirety of a test, answers and questions, could be posted for all to see. These fears aren’t unfounded—in 2018, 12 students were expelled from TCU for using Quizlet to cheat on their tests.
However, Quizlet has in place several policies to actively work against cheating. They have an honor code in place, asking that students not post questions to test, nor use the site while taking an actual test. While some classes do allow you to study past tests, especially if the final is culminative, Quizlet requests that any sets you make on those tests remain private, so that others who haven’t taken the tests yet won’t stumble upon them. Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and uphold their school’s policy on what information can be shared and studied from.
Is Quizlet Reliable?
With any user-generated content, the question is always reliability. Unfortunately, Quizlet does not have a built-in spell-check, so typos can abound. There’s always the problem of mix-ups as well—the student creating the content might not have placed the right definition with the term, or have placed the wrong date with the event. If you’re not careful, you could end up memorizing this wrong information, and unexpectedly fail that test you expected to ace.
However, Quizlet has created a content filter to avoid this. Good sets that are used by many people appear first in search results, while typo-filled ones that are only ever used once or twice fall to the bottom.
As far as reliability as a company, Quizlet has some decent credentials. They are one of the most well-known study sites for a reason, and are used even beyond high school and college work. Quizlet now includes premium sets for studying for things like IT certification tests, and is used by companies like Whole Foods to train their cashiers.
Quizlet is a solid online flashcard sight with a good amount of flashcard sets, but there are still some alternatives. While you could always consider getting a tutor, like Chegg Tutors, you may just end up making flashcards anyways. There are also two other online study sites, though, that you could consider. They’re called Duolingo and StudyBlue. So, how does Quizlet compare with these alternatives? Let’s find out below.
Quizlet VS Duolingo
Quizlet is very popular with language learners, and its premium content is much cheaper than the other popular language-learning site, Duolingo. Duolingo Plus costs $9.99 a month, a much higher rate. However, Duolingo does offer customized plans and reminders for its users, rather than having to create a schedule for yourself.
Another difference is in how material is presented—while Duolingo presents the terms to you itself, with Quizlet, you often have to create your own study sets. This can be a good thing though, as studies have shown that simply writing or typing in the information yourself can help you to memorize it faster. While Duolingo is more specialized for language studies, Quizlet is a broader platform that can handle many different types of learning.
Quizlet Vs StudyBlue
Another flashcard learning site is StudyBlue. However, StudyBlue focuses more on the social aspect of learning, connecting you with dozens of classes and sets made by others. Quizlet, on the other hand, leans more toward personal studying. While you can join classes on Quizlet, they actively work to remove any sets that are not “study-focused,” such as sets that are really being used as chat rooms.
While StudyBlue does include features like using images and audio in flashcards with their free experience, their premium service costs far more than Quizlet’s–$9.99 a month, or $30 for the year.
Conclusions For Quizlet
Quizlet is one of the most recognizable names in the flashcard site world for a reason. It’s ease of use, as well as large database of sets to search through, makes it a great tool for any student. While it is the most useful in memorization study, and for topics like history and language, almost every student will run into a time when they can use Quizlet to memorize terms they need for a test. No matter how you choose to study, flashcards will be needed eventually. Users do have to be careful of cheating, intentionally or not, but Quizlet does make avoiding unethical sets easier than other sites. Quizlet’s ideology is that “when every small lesson feels like a victory, it is easy to keep going,” and their site allows students to keep going to excel in every class they take.