Quizlet restrictions limit students’ ability to study effectively


Screenshot by Simrah Azmi

Screenshot of quizlet.com.

Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer

“You’ve finished up your free practice test. Upgrade to Quizlet Plus and get unlimited practice tests for this set.” I stared at the screen, and my confusion lasted about two seconds before being replaced by a cold, resigned understanding. 

It was a few weeks ago when I was studying for the two quizzes that I had the next day—my first two quizzes of my high school career. I planned to study for them using the same website that had been my go-to tool for the entirety of middle school: quizlet.com

I have always been a person who has struggled figuring out what exactly I am supposed to do when I am told by my teachers to “study.” What does that mean? How do I just “study”? What really is studying? 

That’s where the free platform Quizlet gave me and many of my classmates throughout middle school some guidance. Not only could you create your own sets of flashcards, but you could also explore a vast collection of public sets made by others. There are a variety of different ways to study on Quizlet, such as committing terms to memory through repetition in Learn mode, answering different types of questions about the terms in Test mode, and playing competitive games to practice under pressure in Match and until recently, Gravity.

There is something for everyone, and that is what makes studying with Quizlet so appealing; you can try out all sorts of different methods and see what works for you. The best part was, you could repeat the activities as many times as you wanted and get even more practice. 

Well, not anymore. Recently, much to the dismay of myself and many other students, Quizlet has changed things up by expanding the list of services that are available only if you purchase a subscription to Quizlet Plus. Access to Flashcards mode and Match, as well as the ability to create your own sets and track your study streaks, are thankfully still available for free. However, if you want to be able to do more than five rounds of Learn and one practice test per set, you must pay $7.99 a month (or $35.99 a year for the “best deal”). Write mode has been incorporated into Learn and is therefore limited too, and the Gravity feature has been removed entirely.

Students like me who have been relying on this site to study are now literally being blocked by a paywall. One could argue that it is not that big of a deal, and that there are still plenty of features available for free and the cost isn’t that high anyway. First of all, it’s ignorant to assume everyone is able to pay for the subscription; these changes that have been introduced undoubtedly make Quizlet much less accessible than it was before. Also, the features that we can use for free, while still helpful, are considerably less appealing when there is such a limited amount of them available. 

Even still, how much it costs and what features are available isn’t my main complaint. We are used to subscriptions being offered to us everywhere at this point. Whether it’s “You’ve reached 6 skips per hour” on Spotify right above information about Spotify Premium or “You’ve reached your limit of free articles” on the New York Times with an inviting “Subscribe Now!” button underneath — it’s annoying, but inevitable.

What’s disheartening, is seeing it on Quizlet, a website primarily used for studying, and so glaringly too. Quizlet Plus already existed before this, and there were some helpful features like smart grading included in it, but the free version was still perfectly useful. As always, there are ways one could possibly bypass the limitations, for example, by creating duplicate sets, but the inconvenience should not be necessary in the first place.   

Getting so fired up over a website for online flashcards may seem like an overreaction, but it’s important to consider how many people for whom Quizlet was the go-to site to prepare for a test. Now we’ve lost access to an array of valuable tools we’ve taken for granted. As evidenced by the extreme backlash online, characterized by people calling to “boycott Quizlet,” a lot of people are affected by this, and nobody is happy about it.

Looking ahead, on a more positive note, it is always good to have some variety and try different things out, and if there’s one thing this whole Quizlet situation taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t become too dependent on just one platform. We now have the opportunity to look elsewhere for similar websites we might have glossed over before that can help us study. Who knows, other sites might even include some helpful features Quizlet lacked in the first place.