Subscription Services Single Out Students


graphic by Amelia Coleman

Jolie Grogan, Staffer

Digital study tools are resources for students looking for new ways to study. Tools such as Quizlet were free online study set tools to help students memorize key terms and questions for their tests. Not everyone has access to tutors or specialized help, so many students use these online study resources. 

As of Aug. 1, 2022 however, Quizlet has changed the “learn” and “test” features to cost $7.99 a month. The “learn” and “test” features allow students to get a more comprehensive understanding of their study sets and use features to make sure they are memorized. Quizlet premium content also includes expert-curated study guides and materials, whereas the site had previously been largely powered by student-uploaded content. 

Quizlet’s recent addition of premium content is one of the main sites that has caught students’ attention for charging money. Sophomore Ivy Sernovitz is a student in AP World History, and often uses online resources for studying. 

“Quizlet is the study site I use most of the time,” Sernovitz said. “I like to use Quizlet for any class that involves memorizing vocabulary, such as World History or language classes.” 

Freshman Niamh Catterall is a student in World Geography, and uses study sites for various classes. World Geography students often use specialized study sites, such as Seterra, which provides practice map quizzes.

“I use Quizlet or Seterra most often, but I only use Seterra for one class, so Quizlet is the site I use the most,” Catterall said. “I use Quizlet to study Spanish, Biology, and World Geography.”

Sophomore Leo De Los Santos uses Quizlet primarily for AP World History. Quizlet has features that allow you to use study sets created by other people, or you can create your own study sets. 

“I use Google Slides or Quizlet to study most often,” De Los Santos said. “I use Quizlet in some classes, and if I do, the quiz is made by me or a friend.”

When it comes to opinions on quizlet charging money, opinions vary. Sernovitz does not find harm in being charged money for certain features.

“I think it’s fair for them to ask you to pay for extra features if most of the site is free,” Sernovitz said.

However, not all students think it’s fair to charge money. Sophomore Leo De Los Santos believes the absence of the “learn”  feature that students relied on for so long can make it difficult for students to get a comprehensive understanding of content.

“I think that quizlet charging money makes things a lot harder for students,” De Los Santos said. 

According to Quizlet CEO Mathew Glotzbach, 50 million monthly active users engage with Quizlet for their study needs. Catterall agreed with De Los Santos that having expenses for common features is not right.

“I think that it is unreasonable because they know that only students really use their sites, so they are exploiting our needs for their own good,” Catterall said. “I don’t think that the cost that they charge is ever reasonable for what you get out of it.” 

De Los Santos also doesn’t think the monthly fee is worth it. However, Sernovitz finds some of the Quizlet Premium features, such as materials that directly align with textbooks, online courses, and standardized tests, to be occasionally helpful. 

“I wouldn’t pay money for the extra features because I don’t think they are necessary,” Sernovitz said. “However, I have a friend who pays for a premium account and allows me to use it sometimes.”

Quizlet had reasoning behind their decisions to charge money – according to Forbes, the increasing subscription economy has made companies use premium content in addition to advertising. Furthermore, according to Glotzbach, Quizlet going premium was a “natural and planned extension” of Quizlet’s free content. 

“I think they ask for money because they are a business with employees and they need to make a profit somehow,” Sernovitz said.

Though many students were disappointed by Quizlet’s choice to go premium, Quizlet maintains their choice to move to a subscription model. For students seeking other ways to study, there are still plenty of free study sites such as Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, Edx, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, and Memrise.