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May 02 2017
by Elizabeth Robinson

The Best Educational Websites to Help You Ace Your Classes

By Elizabeth Robinson - May 02 2017

Sometimes office hours and teaching assistants simply aren't enough. Or maybe you're just not sure you like a particular subject and are afraid to sign up for a class. Fear not, for our best friend, the Internet, is here to save the day. All of these websites are informative, user-friendly and, most importantly, free of charge. 

1. Foreign Language

Italki, Duolingo, Memrise, Digital Dialects and Youtube are all excellent resources for language learning outside the classroom. Italki connects you with language learners around the world so that you can get your own private, native-speaking tutor in whatever target language you desire — it's free if you give a half hour of English tutoring in exchange for a half hour of instruction the language they speak. Not only that, but Italki has a great forum where you can outsource specific questions to a community of native speakers. If you need help with speaking/pronunciation or can't find a native speaker at your college, then Italki is the website for you.

Duolingo, Memrise and Digital Dialects are all great for learning vocabulary and basic grammar. They're all set up like games, complete with points, levels and audio to help you learn. However, they're limited in the number of languages they offer — they all offer Spanish, but Sanskrit might not be available.

For learning foreign writing systems, apps like Skritter and websites like ArchChinese can be a big help. Both of these show you how to write out characters step by step, and ArchChinese even serves as a nice dictionary. Be careful with Skritter though: it's only free for the duration of your free trial!

Where does Youtube fit in? Not only will many professors or native speakers post informational videos online (this helps especially if you're in a literature class), but you also have access to an entire Internet full of comedy sketches, songs and TV shows, all in your target language. I've changed my country setting on Youtube to "Spain," so my trending feed is full of the most popular, hilarious Spanish Youtube videos — everything from the latest pop songs to Game Plays to makeup tutorials. 

2. Memorization

Quizlet, Evernote, AnkiApp Flashcards and various other apps are great for making flashcards. Some of them even automatically create review sessions for you based on how long it's been since you've practiced certain words — this is called "spaced repetition." And what better way to stay diligent than having your phone send you reminders every day?

3. Math

Symbolab and WolframAlpha saved my life in my calculus classes. WolframAlpha is pretty well-known, but I personally prefer Symbolab — WolframAlpha asks you to upgrade in order to see worked solutions to some problems. With these two websites, you simply type in your calculation and the computer finds the solution for you — step by step explanations may or may not be included. It's incredibly helpful if there's an integral or a limit you just can't seem to solve. 

4. Computer Science/Coding

I am not a computer science major myself, so I don't really know what level of complexity upper division courses entail. However, I can tell you a place where you can learn several coding languages for free: CodeAcademy. CodeAcademy taught me HTML (for websites) and Python (for bioinformatics), and it can teach you, too! The learning modules are super easy and entertaining. Another good place to connect with fellow coders and download public codes is You're more likely to use Hackster for computational engineering or robotics club. 

5. Chemistry and Physics

For these, I normally go to MinutePhysics (on Youtube) and LibreTexts, respectively. MinutePhysics is great if there's a complex theorem or problem in physics that you really need to understand on an abstract level. LibreTexts, which I use principally for chemistry but also offers help in various other subjects, goes a lot more in-depth. LibreTexts dedicates a page to each concept you might need help understanding (for example, "The order of filling 3d and 4s orbitals"), which additionally includes common misconceptions, mistakes and practice problems. 

You might be asking, "Now what about Khan Academy and Crash Course? I use those for chemistry, too!" Well, since you asked...

6. Miscellaneous

Instead of writing "Khan Academy and CrashCourse" under nearly all the categories covered above, I decided to just make a category for "almost every single class ever." CrashCourse is a Youtube series founded by the VlogBrothers, John and Hank Green. Originally, the series was split between science, taught by Hank, and humanities, taught by John, but now many series are also presented to you by other personalities, such as the CrashCourse Mythology and Astronomy series. CrashCourse is great if you need, well, a crash course: a general overview of a subject without getting into individual details or practice problems. 

Khan Academy is similar but focuses less on presentation and more on practice problems. The Khan Academy website is also structured like a game: the more videos you watch and questions you answer, the more point and badges you earn. 

There are countless other YouTube channels that are great for covering specific topics in a wide variety of detail. TED-ED (short, animated TED Talks), Kurzgesagt (long, animated, objective overviews of current, controversial topics), MinuteEarth (short, animated videos covering life/earth sciences) and Wisecrack's 8-bit Philosophy (short, animated videos reviewing philosophy) are some of my favorites. But many professors and schools also post lectures or very detailed, supplemental materials on YouTube for anyone to watch. All you really need to do is search the name of a particular topic, and voilà

We live in the age of information, all thanks to the greatest human invention of all time: pixels on a screen. You really have no reason not to take advantage of all the free, online resources at your disposal. 

Lead Image Credit: Pexels 

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Elizabeth Robinson - University of Texas at Austin

I'm a sophomore at UT Austin majoring in Dean's Biology. I've loved writing since elementary school and published my first novel in high school. I love reading, writing (obviously), foreign languages, doggos, martial arts, anthropology, theater, and watching far too much YouTube. I dream of being a fiction author and geneticist after graduate school, hopefully combining my two loves to change the world. Follow me on Twitter @MetokaPublishi1, Instagram as BlackPage13, or (best option) visit my website,!

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