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- Variety of services for students
- Very good for solving math equations
- Pricey for subscription content
- Strict device limitations lead paying users to being locked out of accounts easily
- Book prices aren’t always competitive
- Services are disparate rather than neatly unified
Chegg is an online learning service and app that offers students help in a few ways. First, it sells and rents out textbooks, used and new. Second, it has subscription services for helping students with math, homework, and writing. Third, it offers a flashcard app, which is free. Finally, it lists internships and scholarships, and has a section on financial advice aligned with students’ needs.
The services feel disparate and fractured rather than unified under Chegg, in part because some are only available via the website, and some have their own mobile apps. Even so, a few of the services are uniquely useful, particularly those focused on math. The paid services are priced high for the student market and a strict two-device limit for paying customers seems excessive. Our recommendation is to use Chegg when and where it’s beneficial, but be sure to read the fine print.
Among apps for student learning, Khan Academy is an Editors’ Choice winner, though it doesn’t offer the same kind of individual help for specific problems that Chegg does. For flashcard apps, we like Quizlet more than Chegg because it’s easier to use and has great multi-language support, meaning you can use it to study in tandem with a language-learning program. For help with writing, Grammarly is a wonderfully useful tool, especially for writers whose native language isn’t English, though—like Chegg—it’s also expensive for the student market.
Table of Contents
Getting Started With CHegg
When signing up for a free Chegg account, you have to indicate that you’re a student or educator, and, if a student, your level (high school or college) and additional details, such as which college or university you attend and your year. As far as we could tell in testing, no one verifies this information. You don’t need an .edu email address to sign up, for example. You can use any old email and password or by authenticating with Apple, Google, or Facebook.
Chegg Apps and Device Limitations
You can access nearly everything Chegg has to offer from the website and the companion mobile apps. The apps are Chegg Study, Chegg Math Solver, Chegg eReader (for accessing digital books), and Chegg Prep (flashcards). For Chegg Math Solver, the mobile app lets you snap a picture of an equation and upload it to get help solving it, rather than having to type it into an onscreen calculator, as you must do in the web app.
Chegg paying members can only have two registered devices at a time. This information isn’t made clear in any of Chegg’s signup pages (we verified it with a Chegg representative). There is a help page that explains how to register and unregister devices(Opens in a new window), although you have to search to find it; it isn’t anywhere obvious. That page explains that you can remove and replace up to one device once every 30 days.
A common complaint among Chegg paying members is they aren’t aware of the device limitation and suddenly find themselves locked out of their account. While the device limit may be in place to prevent password-sharing, it seems tough on students who might be using library computers and school-issued devices in addition to their personal devices or those borrowed from friends and family. For paying members, it makes little sense. Chegg needs to do a better job of making the rules clear from the start.
When you sign up for a Chegg account, you can access some of it for free, including the flashcard app, money advice, and listings for scholarships and internships. For service-oriented pieces, like getting help with math homework or writing papers, you get a little taste for free but otherwise have to pay. You can buy one service singly ($9.95-$19.95 per month) or a bundle of all the services ($19.95 per month).
Here’s a summary of each service.
Math Solver ($9.95 per month)
Math Solver lets you submit math problems to the site and get an answer with an explanation of how to do each step toward the correction solution. Students in courses that use algebra, calculus, or linear algebra would benefit from it.
If you have a Chegg account but not a paid subscription, you can use Math Solver for only three problems per day, and you don’t get the detailed explanations of how to arrive at the answer. You also don’t get access to a graphing calculator, which paying members get.
Chegg Study ($14.95)
Chegg Study is a subscription service that gives you access to homework help. Specifically, you can look up the answers to questions found in textbooks, which Chegg keeps as a database. You can also submit new questions to experts, who hopefully answer them in 30 minutes to 24 hours. The experts are people who work for Chegg, though on Chegg’s US website, there isn’t much information about them. On Chegg’s Indian website, however, there’s information about how to apply to become an expert and get paid per question answered.
Chegg Study is good for courses in business (finance, economics, accounting, operations management), engineering (computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering), math, science (physics, chemistry, biology, advanced physics, nursing, anatomy and physiology, earth science), and psychology.
Chegg Writing ($9.95 per month)
Chegg Writing is a service for written works that contains a plagiarism checker, proofreading, grammar and spell checks, plus a tool for making and saving citations in the correct style. You can submit as many as 15 papers per month of up to 3,000 words each. An expert provides feedback on the main idea and writing style, and generally the turnaround time is 24 hours, according to Chegg. When you upload papers, they’re added to Chegg’s plagiarism database, which is common with plagiarism detection services.
Without a paid account, you get limited suggestions and no plagiarism check. For a free service, you’re better off using the entry level tier of Grammarly.
Bundle, a.k.a. Study Pack ($19.95 per month)
The last offer is called Bundle or sometimes Study Pack. For $19.95 per month, you get all three services mentioned so far: Math Solver, Study, and Writing.
Cost for Books
Chegg offers textbook rentals and purchases, usually of used copies. It formerly bought used books from students, but no longer does. When you rent books from Chegg, you see the return date well in advance of having to put down a credit card. Often, you get the books for the length of a semester, or about five months. Return shipping is included in the cost.
You may highlight pages of books you rent, but you aren’t supposed to write in them. Rentals come with a 21-day refund period. If you decide to purchase a book that you’ve rented, Chegg always gives you the option to do so. Used books and rentals don’t include any supplemental materials, such as DVDs, lab manuals, or access codes that might be standard in a new copy.
Let’s look at Chegg’s prices for renting and buying a few examples of actual required books for courses at a major university. For comparison, the prices of buying and renting the books directly from the university bookstore are given. Here are three examples.
Physical Geology, 3rd Edition:
- Chegg rental, purchase: $14.49, $21.49
- University rental, purchase: unavailable, $165.75 used or $220.75 new
REVEL for Essentials of Sociology 11th edition, A Down-to-Earth Approach – Access Card:
- Chegg: out of stock
- University digital rental: $80.00 for one year access
Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction, 1st Edition:
- Chegg rental, purchase: $11.99, from $16.99
- University rental: $4.78 used, $6.57 new
- University digital rental: $4.00 for 180 days
- University purchase: $9 used, $11.95 new
As you can see, sometimes getting books through Chegg is economical, and other times you could pay double or triple what it would cost to rent or buy the book elsewhere.
Chegg isn’t the only source for buying and renting required texts, of course. Campusbooks.com is a site that looks for textbooks across a number of sites and tells you the prices from online vendors who have the title. That way, you can compare prices from Chegg, Amazon, AbeBooks, SecondSale, and others in an easy-to-read table.
A Grab Bag of Student Services
Chegg is a grab bag of services for students, a mishmash of resources and databases, contracted experts, and so forth. It doesn’t feel unified overall, and some of the pieces are half-baked, like the mediocre flashcard app. Chegg would be better if it had more clear direction, such as only focusing on math and sciences and no other subjects, or making the textbook rental and selling business a different brand. As is, it comes off unpolished and unfocused.
Chegg also needs to iron out kinks on the marketing side by providing more clear information upfront about device limitations and who are these Chegg “experts.” The prices are also high for students. There’s also room for growth. For example, it would be nice to see Chegg offer a teams-type subscription for study groups who then pay a lower per-person rate and can share resources among the group.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Chegg is a compendium of online services for students, from textbook rentals to help solving math equations. Some of the services are quite valuable, but the subscription price is high for students.