Maizie Simpson

How To Decide If Online Learning Is Right For You

We make a promise to our students every day: we’ll give you the highest quality study tools and the help you need to do your very best on your exams.

But online learning isn’t the best option for every student. For some, that in-person, teacher-to-student relationship simply can’t be replaced.

That’s why we also make our students another promise: if we don’t think studying with Magoosh will help you raise your scores, we’ll be straight with you—we’ll offer you a full refund and suggest switching to a tutor. Hardly anyone has ever taken us up on it, but we still make the offer every time.


Because one of our core values is Wow > Profit. That means we aim to consistently “wow” our students. We want them to know that their success means more to us than making a profit, and we stand by that.

So here we are, being straight with you again. This blog is for those of you who are on the fence about using an online study tool. Is it right for you? Will you get the results you’re looking for? Members of the Magoosh Team have the answers.


What are the top benefits of studying online vs. in-person?



“The biggest benefit of studying online is flexibility. You get to focus on only the skills you need, and decide when and where to spend that energy. It requires self-motivation, but in the end the time spent can be both more efficient and more convenient.”

— Lucas Fink, TOEFL Expert



Consistently excellent materials

“One benefit of online learning is having top-notch instruction every time. With in-person options, you don’t always know what you will get. Everyone has good days and bad days. And when it comes to test preparation, the level of teaching is highly variable from class to class. You really don’t know what you paid for until you are in the class. But online learning is different. The lessons are created by top-notch teachers. And as students provide feedback, the lessons are re-recorded to make them even better.”

— Kevin Rocci, Student Help Lead


What questions should you ask yourself before choosing to study online?


How will I hold myself accountable?

“One of the main benefits of an in-person class is having some place to go and be forced to study. Before choosing an online study program, you need to figure out how you can simulate that same kind of accountability. Can you sign up with a friend? Have a family member check in with you? Set up an automatic accountability donation to a group you abhor? Whatever it is, planning ahead will help keep you on track.”

— Peter Poer, Content Lead



When could I use it?

“Think about when and where you will use this online study program. You might find that it makes it an even better option for your busy schedule once you realize that you can use a mobile app to study vocabulary on a train, or use 30 minutes of the hour you spend surfing the Internet at lunch to do practice problems. Maybe you’re a night owl or an early bird who works best at 11 PM or 5 AM (when you would be hard-pressed to find a class.) For many people, online study programs end up being a great option because of their ability to transcend most time and location restraints.”

–Kristin Keating, ACT Expert


What kind of people benefit most from studying online?


Those who challenge themselves constantly

“When alone, it’s tempting to go easy on yourself. But real learning comes after making mistakes.”

— Lucas



Those who are inquisitive and curious…

“…even when no one is watching.”

— Peter


Those with a busy schedule…

“…who need flexibility when it comes to learning.”

— Kevin



You won’t see great results from online studying if you…



“Seriously, cramming doesn’t work ever, but definitely not if you’re studying online. Learning fast is hard even when you’ve got a one-on-one tutor. The internet has made so much about our lives faster, but it can’t make your brain any more absorbent.”

— Peter

Lucas-Fink-210x250Study till you can’t take it anymore

“That saps any of the fun out of it. Without fun, you lose interest. Without interest, you lose engagement. And without engagement, it’s both harder to retain new information and slower going in general.”

— Lucas



How has studying online worked for you? Are there any other ways to tell of online learning is the right way to go? We’d love to hear what you have to say. Drop your suggestions in the comments! 🙂


Photo at the top courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Washington College. It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.


  • Maizie Simpson

    Maizie writes about Magoosh and gets others to talk about Magoosh. A graduate of the University of Arizona (Bear Down!) with a BA in Journalism, she loves nuanced grammar rules, learning strange languages, and traveling to new places. She has an unnatural obsession with Middle Eastern politics and Mexican food.