So you’re looking for the best flashcard app to help you study for that next exam, learn a language quickly, or master those guitar chords. And in your online meanderings, you’ve come across two powerhouse names: Brainscape and Quizlet.

Which flashcard app should you choose?

Is Brainscape better than Quizlet? Or is Quizlet better?

Actually, the question to ask here is "which product is better for me?" And this is because Brainscape and Quizlet are both excellent study apps! But to help you determine the best flashcard app for you, I’m going to explain how Brainscape is different from Quizlet and the specific use cases for which each one is best suited.

[You can also check out how Brainscape fares against another popular flashcard app, Anki! Brainscape vs Anki]

Where Brainscape shines...

Brainscape web & mobile app

Brainscape is a web and mobile flashcard app that helps you double your learning speed through a blend of key cognitive science principles, which makes studying as fast, efficient, and painless as humanly possible.

Brainscape's prioritization of effectiveness—of what WORKS—makes the app a great choice if you are a self-motivated learner who needs to memorize a massive amount of content-heavy information over a long period of time.

It's the reason that Brainscape is a top choice for medical students, law students, avid foreign language learners, top high school and college students, and people taking any of thousands of professional-level certifications.

These aren't people who need to trick themselves into studying for an exam by playing games. They are just looking for the most efficient way to learn and memorize the content they need in order to smash their goals.

Brainscape is optimized for serious long-term learning in the following ways:

1. Flexible flashcard format

Instead of just an image or a vocabulary word in a small text box, Brainscape flashcards have an open canvas for much richer types of questions and answers, of various lengths and formats. This fosters the creation of content that promotes deeper understanding of the subject as a whole, and not just isolated names and dates.

2. Flexible flashcard organization

Brainscape makes it easy for flashcard creates to (i) "curate" flashcards from various sources (both within Brainscape and from outside), (ii) "bookmark" useful cards from across various subjects or decks, and (iii) create study mixes across lots of different subject areas. Improving the way that learners and educators organize their knowledge is a major part of Brainscape's mission.

3. Trusted certified content

Instead of just accepting a big import of a publisher's existing paper flashcards, Brainscape works directly with small publishers and content experts to jointly create the optimal study experience. This results in an increasing number of certified flashcard collections that represent the most effective ways to study foreign languages, professional certifications, and hundreds of other subjects.

4. 100% Self-driven

Rather than multiple-choice or matching exercises, where you merely recognize the answer, Brainscape focuses on flashcards, which ask you to think of the answer from scratch (active recall), and to rate your confidence in each card (metacognition), on a scale of 1-5. This combination of active recall and metacognition is scientifically proven to strengthen your memory so much more effectively than recognition games do.

5. Focused on attacking your weaknesses

Because Brainscape provides five grades of flashcard confidence, instead of Quizlet's two ("know" or "don't know"), the app is able to implement a more personalized spaced repetition sequence, which repeats harder concepts more frequently until you gradually increase the confidence interval. [Read more about Brainscape’s spaced repetition algorithm.]

What this means for you is that each and every study session is automatically and entirely curated to suit your individual needs: drilling you the content you need to work on, while saving you time on the concepts you already know well.

6. Defeats the “forgetting curve”

This last concept is perhaps the most important. Learning with Brainscape isn’t linear. You don't just "flip through" questions in Brainscape. Instead, the app automates and personalizes the optimal repetition of content so that you (1) never forget anything and (2) don’t waste unnecessary time. It obsessively helps you defeat the dreaded “forgetting curve” that is endemic to all studying.

How spaced repetition words illustration
Each time Brainscape repeats a concept at the perfectly determined time interval FOR YOU, your "forgetting curve" (how quickly you forget after that exposure) is "shifted out" to the right, meaning that you will now remember that concept for even longer before the next repetition.

7. Learn more, faster

The net result of using Brainscape over a long period of time is that you will learn increasingly more per net unit of time spent studying. The benefits of active recall, metacognition, and spaced repetition actually accrue exponentially the longer you use Brainscape consistently.

[Read: How brain science can help you learn a language (or anything!) faster]

8. Much more affordable

Learning efficiencies aside, Brainscape is a much more affordable study tool for than Quizlet where group subscriptions are concerned. For example:

  • Cost of Quizlet for a group of 100 = $3,059.15/year
  • Cost of Brainscape for a group of 100 = $1,080.00/year

In other words, Brainscape is a third of the price of Quizlet, making it the preferred app of schools and companies that wish to offer their students and employees a fast, efficient tool for learning.

9. Privacy protection

Unlike other popular flashcard platforms, Brainscape is fully compliant with GDPR, CPPA, EdLaw 2D, and a myriad of other privacy laws worldwide. Educators and learners can proceed without fear of ads (targeted or otherwise) or tracking information, and know that only authorized class instructors/admins can see your learners' metrics.

10. Ad-free learning experience

If you want or NEED a study experience free of annoying ads, then Brainscape is the way to go. Even in Brainscape's free version, there are no ads! And this is important for schools who cannot legally authorize the use of applications that target their staff and students with ads due to privacy concerns.

Quizlet, however, cannot and will not eliminate ads from their free version and this has prevented them from being able to work with many schools.

11. A pleasure to surf

Finally, Brainscape boasts an easily searchable database of millions of subjects made by other users, as well as premium "Certified" flashcard collections. These are created in collaboration with a panel of subject-matter experts and in alignment with our "best practices" guidelines for flashcard creation.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Brainscape is going to solve all your learning needs... at least not yet. Some subjects—like math in particular—may involve deeper hands-on problem-solving that isn't well addressed by a flashcard where you simply "think" of an answer. Other subjects—like reading, writing, or philosophy—involve oral and written discussion that far exceed the borders of a bite-sized flashcard.

And finally, there are other subjects that are indeed great for bite-sized flashcards, and where learners need greater extrinsic motivation to study. That's where Quizlet comes in...

When should I use Quizlet?

When should you use Quizlet?

Quizlet is one of the most successful education startups ever built. They've been around much longer than Brainscape, they have proliferated to the majority of U.S. K-12 schools (especially K-8), and they even filed to go public in September 2021.

Quizlet's big secret to success is that their product is fun to use. Because Quizlet focuses on vocabulary and images, where the answer is always just one word or phrase, the app allows for question types like multiple choice, matching, and fill-in-the-blanks. These types of questions have only two possible outcomes: “right” or “wrong” answers, and thus it is easy to score you on leaderboards against other students.

While those competitive exercises may not be as effective a learning tool as Brainscape, they are immensely popular in schools where students need a bit more extrinsic motivation to engage in their studies or homework. In fact, Quizlet has recently even become popular as an in-class competition too, with their fun interactive class trivia game called Quizlet Live. We've seen the videos and the kids love it.

A key difference between Quizlet and Brainscape, therefore, comes down to whether you're looking for a tool to supply you with that extrinsic motivation to learn, or a tool to help you accelerate your learning in the most efficient way possible.

If you (or your students) really need some motivation for studying a boring subject—and if that subject really only requires a few minutes or hours' worth of studying—then Quizlet could be the best flashcard app for the job. The net benefit in time saved by having otherwise used Brainscape wouldn't have been that great for such a short study time after all.

Some low-stakes subject areas ripe for Quizlet include:

  • Studying for a 7th grade biology quiz
  • Learning your U.S. state birds for fun
  • Running a live trivia game with your class (or at the pub)
  • Memorizing 20 key phrases in Norwegian for your upcoming 3-day trip

For tasks such as these, Quizlet is probably the more appropriate flashcard app. In fact, these types of lower-stakes tasks might even represent the majority of studying in the world. Brainscape, however, is more focused on self-motivated learners who have a lot to study over a long period of time.

“Brainscape vs Quizlet”: points of comparison at a glance

To help you better visualize the differences between Brainscape and Quizlet, here's a handy chart for you:




    Primary stated goal

  • Make learning fun and social.

    Best for

  • Younger students (K12) who need motivation to learn, for smaller cram sessions.

    Learning experience

  • Highly “gamified” learning experience with a focus on fun and competition.

    User types

  • Mainly for students and teachers.

    Design theme

  • Playful, simple and youthful.

    Spaced repetition

  • No spaced repetition on the free version! Only accessible via paid version, and with minimal personalization.


  • Optimized for mainly just vocab and images, which makes “gamifying” the experience much easier, based on the answers you get “right” or “wrong”.

    Ad-free learning experience

  • Cannot and will not eliminate ads from their free version.

    For schools and companies

  • No private enterprise licenses available.


  • NOT compliant with GDPR, CPPA, EdLaw 2D, and a myriad of other privacy laws worldwide

    Quizlet Plus vs Brainscape Pro

  • Provides explanations, personalized study paths, and customizable flashcards. Cost of Quizlet for a group of 100 = $3,059.15/year

    Additional content

  • Explanations for the answers to exercises in popular textbooks. Need to upgrade for access.
  • Learn faster and remember longer.
  • Serious, self-motivated students studying for high-stakes exams and certifications.
  • Self-driven rather than gamified: hyper focused on effective and efficient learning.
  • Flexible design for learners, educators, and professional organizations.
  • Mature with an appealing and easy-to-navigate UI/UX.
  • Sophisticated and personalized spaced repetition algorithm for all users.
  • Flexible to account for longer, more detailed and complex questions and answers, which you then self-assess your confidence in. This allows the individual to steer their OWN learning path in a more personalized and optimal way.
  • Even in Brainscape's free version, there are no ads! And this is important for schools that cannot legally authorize the use of applications that target their staff and students with ads due to privacy concerns.
  • Private enterprise licenses available.
  • Compliant with GDPR, CPPA, EdLaw 2D, and a myriad of other privacy laws worldwide.
  • Provides unlimited access to user-generated and certified, expert-curated flashcards. Cost of Brainscape for a group of 100 = $1,080.00/year
  • The Brainscape Academy, which contains hundreds of articles—both general and subject specific—on how to overcome key challenges and excel. Available free to all.

A final note on Brainscape vs Quizlet

Brainscape and Quizlet flashcard apps

At the end of the day Quizlet and Brainscape serve different markets and purposes. But armed with the information laid out in this guide, I hope you now feel that you know which is the best flashcard app for you (and that you think it’s Brainscape).

So, remember, if you’re a serious student studying a high stakes subject—whether it’s your biology finals, the bar exam, or a professional certification—Brainscape is the best study tool to help you study so much more efficiently.

All the best with your studies!

Still "shopping around" for the best flashcard app? Check out: 'Does Anki work (and is it worth the hype)?'