Studying for your classes is one of the most important skills to have. You can listen to all the lectures, glance over all the slides, and read all the required textbooks—but if you don’t study for yourself, carving the information into your brain, then you’ll be left with nothing more than a blank slate when you’re staring at the first page of your final. One of the best ways to study is by using flashcards to help you memorize terms.
But creating decks of flashcards can be time-consuming. You have to pull up all the sheets of the things you’re trying to study, find those scattered note-cards deep in drawers of your desk, and have you seen your own handwriting lately? Even if it wasn’t that bad to begin with, writing out 50+ terms and their meanings will leave your letters sloppy and your hands cramping. Fortunately, there’s plenty of study sites to help.
There are several flashcard study sites, that allow students to create their own cards, and then flip through and study them, all online. You’ll never have to worry about a card slipping out of your backpack, or whether or not your pen will run out of ink—simply type in your terms, and get studying.
While there are several flashcard-study sites available, today we’re going to dig into StudyBlue, and see if it is right for you. Let’s find out more in this review of StudyBlue.
What Is StudyBlue?
StudyBlue is a crowd-sourced study library, where students create and share their flashcards on a multitude of different subjects. Officially launched in 2008, it began the year before as the summer project of two students from the University of Wisconsin. But it hasn’t stayed small—StudyBlue is now used by 7 million people, with over 250 million pieces of user-generated content. A few years ago, StudyBlue merged with Chegg, and is now part of Chegg’s larger network of study helps.
How StudyBlue Works
If you’re using StudyBlue on your mobile device, you’ll first have to download it from the app store, where they offer both iOS and Android versions. To begin using StudyBlue, you need to create an account, using either Facebook, Google, or your email. They do ask for your full name and date of birth as you sign up.
You’re then taken to a page where you indicate how you’re using the page—as a student, teacher, or independent learner—and what college you are enrolled in. This allows you to find the classes that you are taking, distinguished down to even which professor is teaching. Once you’ve finished setting up your account, you can then see others’ “decks” of virtual flashcards that they have created, or create your own.
Creating your own flashcards is simple—navigate over to “create,” type in your first two terms, and continue adding until your deck is complete. As you create terms, StudyBlue shows suggested cards beside it, showing the answers that others have given, and allowing you to import those instead of typing your terms out manually.
Once your deck is complete, there are several ways to study it. You can flip through your cards, have a quiz on your terms, or use a review sheet to help your studying. There are also many options in how you study, from only studying part of them, to which order you study them then.
You have the option then to share you decks with others, or to study from the work of others as well. Utilizing these flashcards is a great way to memorize stuff, and ensure that the terms are fixed firmly in your head.
Is StudyBlue Safe?
There are a few safety issues to be aware of when using StudyBlue. To create an account, you must give them your email, birthday, and last name—all of which may be displayed on your profile depending on your settings. It’s also unclear what safety measures StudyBlue has set up to protect the information of their users; though their association with Chegg is a good sign.
Is StudyBlue Reliable?
Since StudyBlue is now associated with Chegg, it is included in Chegg’s Better Business Bureau A rating, and its age also testifies to its reliability.
As far as the study-materials go, you run into the normal issues that any flashcard site has. As a crowd-sourced site, the answers in particular decks may be wrong—after all, those students may have accidentally entered the wrong information, or mixed up their terms. However, the number of answers and decks created serves as a built-in check for this issue. If an answer doesn’t feel right, you can easily check it against decks that deal with the same topic. There is also no monitoring of students’ answers, so there’s always the risk of running into something strange. One user has mentioned that when he was going through theology flashcards, he found one that instead had the entire script of the movie Shrek.
The app has had some reliability issues—there are many complaints about the app being full of weird bugs and glitches. Cards may occasionally disappear from decks, or not save when first created. StudyBlue’s customer’s service does offer a FAQ page with some of the most common questions, as well as a way to search to see if your question has already been answered—but no easy way to contact customer service directly
Is StudyBlue Cheap?
You can create flashcards and use StudyBlue for free, simply create an account. StudyBlue does offer a Pro subscription, which allows you to download and print off your files, as well as removing the ads from their site. This premium version costs $36 a year, or $9 a month, which is considerably higher than other flashcard sites. While before, you had to have a Pro subscription to truly utilize StudyBlue, now that they have merged with Chegg, almost all of the features you would use from day-to-day are part of the free user experience.
Is StudyBlue Cheating?
Cheating is one of the biggest questions when it comes to study sites. While we discussed before how tutoring sites don’t count as cheating [insert link: CheggTutorsReview], sites like StudyBlue are another issue altogether. There’s no oversight to what students posts; no gatekeepers to keep test information from getting in. While some flashcard sites do have strict no-cheating policy in place that they often share about, StudyBlue does not—and this shows in the material posted on their site. When we made an account and looked up a class, one of the first decks offered was titled “Exam 1.” While decks like those may simply be students studying for the exam, there have been multiple instances of exact quiz answers posted on these sites. You as a student don’t know which is which—which can land you in hot water.
In 2018, 12 students were suspended from Texas Christian University for using a flashcard site to share answers to exam questions. Unfortunately for you as a student, even if you stumble on and study the quiz questions accidentally, you could still be charged with cheating, as often consideration is not taken on whether it was intentional or not. If you simply create your own flashcards, you can avoid this difficulty—but you also miss out on the aid of others in your studying. While some flashcard sites handle the cheating issue well, StudyBlue’s emphasis on sharing decks does make it more susceptible to cheating issues.
StudyBlue VS. Quizlet
Quizlet is another flashcard company like StudyBlue. While StudyBlue focuses more on classes and communal learning, Quizlet is geared more toward the individual, while still allowing for classes and groups to form to study together. Quizlet has a larger database of material by users, and has been associated with organizations like The College Board. Their subscription is cheaper as well, more than half the price of StudyBlue, at $15 a year or $1.25 a month.
However, StudyBlue does make it simpler to find your classes and study along with them—even learning from the materials of students who took those classes years ago. Quizlet also has a 10-group limit for their free-user experience, which can become an issue when you are studying for several different classes at a time. Quizlet also does not allow you to include media in your flashcards unless you upgrade to their paid subscription, while StudyBlue includes it in the free experience.
StudyBlue vs. Cram.com
Cram.com allows you to browse the flashcards that others have made, or create your own if you sign up with a free account. Cram.com also allows you to easily import the terms you want to use from a CSV file—a helpful tool depending on the terms you are trying to learn. You can also browse by subject to find flashcards, rather than doing a general search for particular words.
However, Cram.com’s interface is more difficult to use, especially on mobile, because the screen is too small to fit all the cards. Their subscription is also more expensive than StudyBlue’s, starting at $5 a month.
Conclusions For StudyBlue
While StudyBlue has a simple interface, and is a great way to utilize the hard work that others have already done for your studying, it does have its problems. It makes itself easy to use—but also easy to cheat while using, even unintentionally. StudyBlue works well for creating your own flashcards, and it is simple to study your own decks with the different options they have—but their pricing doesn’t justify upgrading to their Pro subscription. While it can be a useful tool, we recommend using the free experience, and being wary of the dangers you might run into.