StudySoup Review: Is This a Legit Way to Make Money in College?

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Confession time — I wasn’t the best college student. At least not in my freshman or sophomore years.

Because I opted to sleep in and regularly miss my morning classes, I sometimes relied on the kindness of my friends and classmates to provide their notes for me. The problem was… their notes weren’t terrible.

I didn’t realize it at the time but that diligent student was making money from taking awesome notes in class. Sites like StudySoup are a great way to sell your notes or in my case, buy your notes.

What is StudySoup?

person studying on their laptop

Being a notetaker with a company called StudySoup is one way to earn extra income if you’re in college. StudySoup, which launched in 2014, is a peer-to-peer learning marketplace for students. StudySoup provides notes, helpful guides, and course materials made by students for students.

StudySoup offers class notes for more than 1.2 million students and has over a million documents to study from. You can browse through their top subjects and schools.

StudySoup also offers study materials for standardized exams like the MCAT.

In order to make money you need to upload your notes to the platform and you can earn a small commission if it sells.

All you need to do is sign up with an email address or Facebook account. It’s free to sign up but you need to pay a subscription fee if you want to actually use other students’ notes (see below for the subscription price breakdown).

Keep in mind that the site isn’t meant for finding someone to write your term paper or provide any materials that entail cheating or cutting corners. It’s strictly a study site that provides notes and course study guides.

Why Do Students Use StudySoup for Notes?

So maybe you’re a star student and don’t need to use StudySoup for notes, but lots of students struggle with their classes for a number of reasons and do need the help.

Possible reasons include:

  • Their own notes don’t suffice and they want some extra help and materials
  • They missed a few classes because they covet sleep over attending class
  • They traveled to Nepal for a few weeks and now they’re panicking because the midterm is coming up
  • They fell asleep in class and completely missed the lecture… for the entire semester

Whatever the reason, these guys need your help and expertise.

How to Become a Notetaker

If you want to become a notetaker, there are two ways. First, you can simply take notes and upload it to the site. If someone buys it, you earn a small commission.

If you’re interested in making more, you should look into being an Elite Notetaker, which requires any of the following:

  • You’re enrolled in a course with more than 50 students in the class
  • There are at least three exams in the class
  • The class lectures are regular enough where you have the opportunity to take weekly notes
  • You’re getting ready for a grad school entrance exam (like the LSAT)
  • You must go through the application process and take a training session

Note: Even if your class size is smaller than 50 students, you may still be able to become a notetaker. The only caveat is that the smaller class size may mean you may not qualify for the full payment amount for that semester because you didn’t sell enough notes.

After your application is approved, you need to set an appointment with a mentor, who will help get you up to speed on what you need to know.

You know yourself and your study habits better than anyone else. If you consistently earn good grades and have your great notes to thank, you’d probably do well on StudySoup. It’s recommended that you type up your notes before uploading them.

But surprisingly, handwritten notes are accepted. However, think about the students who need the materials. They’d probably want to read typed materials rather than chicken scratches. Bring your laptop to class and type your notes.

Maybe if you have incredible penmanship and are a stellar speller you could get away with turning in handwritten notes!

How Much You Can Earn

According to StudySoup, Elite Notetakers may earn anywhere from $300 to $500 per course. Those whose notes are high in demand earn up to $2,300 each semester.

You get paid a base pay plus commissions on sales. The commission means you’d receive some sort of payout, even if you made no sales. For Elite Notetakers, commissions are 50 percent.

You can upload up to three classes per semester and it’s possible to make a small amount from uploading your class notes, but if you want to earn more than a few bucks here and there, it might be worth it for you to look into being an Elite Notetaker.

You need to be approved in order to become an Elite Notetaker, and once you are, the site says you can earn up to $500 per semester for your notes and study guides.

Another way to make more is to create an exam study guide. You’re allowed to make up to three study guides before exams take place in the class. These notes need to be uploaded at least 4 days before the test.

Tips for Making Awesome Notes

Use their Hall of Fame as a Resource

If you’d like a good idea of what types of study guides have performed well in the past, StudySoup has created a page called Hall of Fame.

There’s one thing that all of these Hall of Famers have in common: organization. Even though the formats are all different the notes are structured neatly in an outline format and they’re typed.

Create the Notes With a Goal in Mind

Think about the meat of the curriculum for the class. Ask yourself the following, then format the notes according to these goals.

  • What is it that the professor wants the students to understand?
  • What are the steps to learn it?
  • What information is most valuable to provide?

Use a Neat and Concise Format

When formatting your notes, think about how it easy (or difficult) it is to soak up the information based on your structure. Make it as easy as possible for a student to be able to easily skim through it with little to no confusion.

These are formatting tips you should take into consideration:

  • Highlight the most important information at the top
  • Use bullets, bold important words, and use various colors or highlights
  • Break up large chunks of text
  • Use subheads to help break up large chunks of text and new topics
  • Be concise and to the point

Use Their Share Tools to Market Your Notes

So you’re done writing up your amazing notes and now you need to share it to get some sales.

StudySoup gives you access to their sharing tools to encourage you to engage your fellow classmates. You can share it through a link that is generated through the site. This link automatically takes people directly to your materials.

So once you’re done creating the study guide, email it to your classmates and post it on your class messaging tool that is used by your school.

Use Grammarly to Eliminate Errors

There’s nothing more disheartening than reading through notes with a bunch of typos in them. If you’re handwriting your notes and you’re not the best speller, consider typing them out and using a free spell and grammar check program like Grammarly to help with mistakes.

Read over your own notes a few times too, to make sure everything makes sense.

Create Study Guides

A study guide is created to help students study for an upcoming test and is a condensed version of all the most important information that is crucial for acing the exam.

Here is a quick reference of what to include in the study guide:

  • Most important concepts and terms
  • Important concepts from each assigned chapter/section (include page numbers if you can)
  • You must turn in the study guide at least 4 days before the exam in order to be eligible for payment

You can also use your notes from the entire semester to act as the study guide. Upload your weekly notes, make sure the notes have lecture dates on them and share it with your classmates.

Getting Paid from StudySoup: What to Know

You can keep track of how much you’ve earned by logging into your account and clicking on the “My Money” section.

StudySoup also has a referral program which means you’ll earn $5 each time one of your friends or classmates:

  • Signs up for StudySoup
  • Takes the Elite Notetaker training
  • Uploads a set of notes

Once your notes sell, StudySoup uses PayPal, and once you reach $50, you can transfer the cash into your bank account. You can also get paid through direct deposit.

You can expect to see payments from PayPal almost instantaneously, but sometimes it can take 2-5 business days. Their FAQ page outlines many payment-related questions.

What are Karma Points?

StudySoup uses an internal currency system called Karma Points, which help students download materials for the courses they need. Karma Points are automatically given to those who sign up and pay for the subscription.

You can also become an Elite Notetaker in order to obtain Karma Points. You can then use them to purchase additional notes and study guides from other Elite Notetakers.

There are three subscription options if you want to join in order to access notes and study guides:

  • 1 Year: $133.87 or $11 a month
  • 6 Months (1 semester): $133.87 or $22 a month
  • 1 Month: $32.87 a month

Subscriptions are non-refundable and once you subscribe, you are charged immediately.

Is StudySoup Legit?

StudySoup is definitely a legitimate site that offers students a way to earn some extra money from taking notes. It won’t earn you a ton of money, but because it’s so closely tied to academics, it may make sense for you to try it out.

Upon sifting through StudySoup reviewers and previous users there’s a variety of positive and negative reviews on Glassdoor.

Those who had great experiences said it was a great way to earn extra income while still in school. One positive reviewer said working for StudySoup was academically beneficial because it forced him to actually pay more attention in class so he could take better notes, and as a result, he got better grades.

This makes sense. As a student, why wouldn’t you want to earn money from something that’s directly tied to your courses and studies? Might as well use your student brain to continue studying and learning and earn some money.

If you apply to be an Elite Notetaker, earning extra money through putting together standardized test materials is also nice because it may give you something to do when you’re not as busy.

The reviewers who had a tough time using the site noted that StudySoup’s customer service was slow to respond or they did not get their payment on time. Users also mentioned that some of the requirements to earn money weren’t very clear.


Staying on top of your classes is hard enough but you also need to worry about paying for college living expenses, budgeting, and of course, looming student loans may be quickly racking up. College is hard!

Choosing to earn extra income with something like StudySoup can be a smart way to save money, pay your tuition, and minimize future debt.