Smarthinking belongs to Pearson, which began as a publishing company in the education industry. Its lesson suite isn’t as advanced as some of the others I tested, but the company has some useful, unique services. For example, you can submit a single paper for feedback and analysis for a fee. And if you’re an educator, Pearson’s program gives you access to reports about your students’ use of tutoring services so you can follow their progress.

Smarthinking’s drop-in tutoring gets you immediate answers to your questions or you arrange to meet a specific tutor at a specific time. You can also leave questions for tutors to answer later through their portal.

The site is available 24/7, but it might take longer to find a tutor on Smarthinking than with other services. Pearson recommends you contact a tutor at least two days before you’d like to schedule a session. Group sessions are also available.

An hour of tutoring costs $45.00, which is a competitive rate, though both Chegg and TutorMe offer a lower price per minute than Smarthinking for similar drop-in services. It would be nice if you could pay as you go so you don’t pay for more tutoring time than you actually need. A free trial would also be useful because it would allow you to use the suite’s features and interact with staff to decide if it is really the right option for you.

I found that Smarthinking was a bit more user-friendly than many of the other services I tested because it has comprehensive tutorial videos on YouTube to walk you through all its learning aids. However, I was disappointed with the service’s lesson suite, or “whiteboard” space, because it doesn’t feature voice or video chat.

Smarthinking’s main focuses are test prep and writing. The service has an online writing center to help students with SAT prep or other essays. Its costs $13.00 to have a practice SAT essay graded or $25.00 for a paper under 10 pages. For longer pieces, there’s a $50.00 fee. The program also helps graduated students find employment by analyzing their resumes and cover letters.

Pearson hires students who have completed advanced coursework as well as people with advanced degrees. The site says that over 90 percent of Smarthinking's tutors have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. When you sign up for the program, you can select a tutor with special expertise. For example, you can choose to work with a tutor who specializes in language learning or one who has experience working with students who have disabilities.

As more and more universities offer courses in digital spaces, students occasionally face challenges adapting to virtual classrooms. Smarthinking claims its students are more likely to get credit for their online courses if they use the tutoring resources it provides – the program is built to help students with long-term academic development rather than just being a drop-in tutoring service.

Smarthinking emphasizes academic honesty and integrity; this isn’t a program students can use to get someone else do their homework. It’s important for a tutoring service to have an academic honesty policy because universities often have harsh punishments for students who don’t complete their own work or plagiarize from the web.

Like many online tutoring services, Smarthinking records lessons so you can review your tutoring sessions later. This is useful if you are a parent and want to make sure your child’s contact with the tutor is appropriate or if you want to review the material you covered.

While its lesson suite isn’t all that impressive, you can access Smarthinking using a mobile app, which is compatible with Android and Apple phones and tablets. From the app, you can access messages from tutors on the go. The system also sends you email and text reminders for tutoring appointments.

If you run into any problems on the site, Smarthinking has a lot of different troubleshooting and direct support options. The service’s help center has live chat and phone contact information, which is more than other online tutoring programs’ support centers have to offer.

Smarthinking’s site and online lesson suite need an update, but it’s a good option for students who need help organizing their online course load or want help with a single essay or paper in the service’s online writing center.

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