What is the difference between Etch and Quizlet?

Sean Haskell
Posted on
August 30, 2022

Etch and Quizlet are two great study tools that serve different purposes. Learn more to decide which one is best for you.

More learning takes place on EdTech platforms each year. Content review and flashcards are central to that revolution. Quizlet has been one of the most popular flashcard and quizzing platforms for years. Etch is a new content review platform for students in high school, college, and medical school.

Etch and Quizlet have a few similarities. Most of those similarities exist because both platforms focus on turning difficult concepts into bite size portions. Etch and Quizlet also have a few important differences. 

Etch pilot program for AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and AP Physics 1 classes

Etch pilot program for Anatomy, Physiology, and Psychology courses

We'll talk about 5 key differences between Quizlet and Etch:

  • Long-term learning strategy
  • Cramming strategy
  • Where cards come from
  • Platform features
  • Cost

Long-term learning strategy

The purpose of education goes beyond just doing well on this week’s quiz. The tools that we use to help further our education shouldn’t just help us get better grades, but should make us more capable. EdTech is at its best when it prepares students for long-term success in their future classes and careers.

For example, if you’re taking AP Biology, you don’t want to just do well on this month’s test. You want to be able to remember the information for the semester midterm and, more importantly, you want to be able to score well enough on the AP exam to get college credit. Long-term goals are difficult to achieve with short-sighted solutions.

Let’s take a look at the strategies that Quizlet and Etch use for Long-term learning. 

Long-term learning with Quizlet

Quizlet Plus ($36/year) has a “Learning Assistant” which uses artificial intelligence to help students study more efficiently. The Learning Assistant uses 2 features to create a personalized long-term learning experience: study paths and progress insights. 

Users interact with Quizlet’s study paths by first telling Quizlet how thoroughly they would like to learn the information and their current level of mastery. If a user is not sure of their current level of mastery, Quizlet will auto-generate a multiple choice quiz based on questions and answers from the question set. Because the answer responses are randomly generated from cards that are not designed to work together, the answers to these questions are often obvious, regardless of a student’s true mastery level. 

After taking the initial assessment quiz, Quizlet categorizes cards as “remaining,” “familiar,” or “known well.” This allows users to keep tabs on what cards they should be studying in order to achieve mastery. 

Users interact similarly with progress insights. This tool allows users to monitor their progress in decks and focus their attention on cards that they haven’t mastered yet. 

Quizlet used to have a spaced repetition learning functionality, but discontinued it to focus more on short-term learning. 

What is spaced repetition learning

Long-term learning with Etch

The Etch platform is specifically designed to be the smoothest long-term learning platform available to students. Etch’s spaced repetition learning algorithm allows students to spend less time on what they already know while spending more time reviewing.

To use Etch, students follow this process:

  1. Begin working with a content review deck from one of our partners
  2. Answer questions about your study routine
  3. Enter your exam dates into Etch
  4. After you study a subject in class, unlock the corresponding section in Etch and begin reviewing
  5. As you study, Etch will schedule future content reviews based on your level of content mastery, study routines, and upcoming exams
  6. After the school year, you’ll retain lifetime access to Etch. You’ll be able to maintain knowledge with just minutes of review each month, preparing you for future careers, coursework, and standardized tests.

Spaced repetition is the most efficient way to remember what you learn so that you don’t have to cram in the future. Etch makes spaced repetition easy.

Cramming Strategy

Studying with long-term retention in mind is ideal, but what should I do if I haven’t already done that and my exam is tomorrow? Let’s take a look at how Quizlet and Etch fare with cramming situations.

Cramming with Quizlet

While Quizlet may have come up lacking in the long-term learning department, it really shines when it comes to cramming in crunch time. Quizlet is the most widely adopted study tool out there, so there’s a good chance that a high-achieving student that is in your class or has taken your class before has already made a Quizlet deck for tomorrow’s test. It couldn’t be simpler to search something like “BIO 105 Exam 1” in Quizlet and start cramming until you feel comfortable with the content on tomorrow’s exam.

However, due to the shortcomings listed above, Quizlet fails to transfer the time you invest in cramming to long-term success. This means that when the final rolls around, you’re likely to find yourself cramming once again.

Cramming with Etch

Etch’s learning platform is constructed around the efficiency of long-term learning. With long-term learning, the old adage applies: “The best time to plant a tree was yesterday; the next best time is today.” If you planted your long-term learning tree yesterday, you won’t need to cram. But if you haven’t, Etch helps the cramming take place, effectively planting your tree today and making sure it stays strong in the future.

Etch’s review scheduling algorithm considers a student’s exam date and their level of content mastery. So, if a student has an exam tomorrow, then Etch will show them cards until they achieve a satisfactory level of content mastery. 

Etch and Quizlet both empower students to do better on tomorrow’s quiz. Etch takes it the next step by transforming the effort invested in cramming to a foundation for lifelong content mastery. 

Where review content come from

Most EdTech content comes from one or more of three sources: student-made, community-made, or publisher made. Now we’ll take a look at where Quizlet and Etch source their content from and what that means for learners.

Where does Quizlet content come from?

Quizlet cards are either self-created or community-created. This has pros and cons. Students benefit from this because they know that the content is tailored to their specific learning needs in the moment. However, this also hurts students because the quality of content suffers compared to content created by publishers and full-time educators.

Where does Etch content come from?

Etch’s goal is to be the centralized platform for long-term learning reviews from all sources. To achieve this goal, the Etch marketplace allows students to integrate content from their preferred educational publishers. While much of that content will cost money, the cost will be a fraction of the value offered to students through spaced repetition learning. Most cards are affordable, one-time purchases, like the new pilots being offered for the upcoming academic year for high school and college students. 

Platform features

A smooth EdTech platform experience requires smooth integration of multiple features. Let’s see how a few of Etch’s compare with Quizlet’s.

Link: What features are currently available on Etch and what is coming in the future?

Thorough explanations

What should you do when you’re reviewing material and you forget an answer? The best answer is to go back to the source material and relearn the material. However, that can be time consuming, especially when you have a lot of cards to get through. That’s why Etch places significant emphasis on making sure each card has enough information to empower students to immediately reintegrate concepts into their broader body of knowledge.

Video Integration

These days, most students prefer the efficiency of watching videos to reading text. Etch allows publishers to include video explanations with their cards, a feature not currently available on Quizlet.


Learning can be more fun when it doesn’t feel like learning. Quizlet Plus ($36/year) includes some gamification options for learning. Etch is in beta mode and does not currently allow gamification modes. However, in the upcoming future, Etch will allow 3rd party game designers to create gamification modes that integrate with Etch content and learning algorithm, creating a fun learning environment. 


Cost is always a major factor when deciding on a platform. See how Quizlet and Etch compare:


Students can study flashcards online for free with ads. For $36/year students can unlock features that go beyond reviewing the front and back of flashcards. 


Using the Etch platform with all features is completely free, and always sill be. Some content sold by publishers will have an associated cost, typically for a one-time purchase.

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