Sparknotes is surprisingly reliable


Amelia Pacht, Staff Writer

Students often find themselves working against the clock.  Whether their struggle resulted because they had to finish a six page paper in one night or to analyze J.  D.  Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in time for a quiz the next day, the answer, for many, is simple: Sparknotes.

The seemingly generalized plot summaries and character analyses are typically detailed enough to meet the needs of most assignments as long as they are used in addition to the original source.

Used in this way, Sparknotes becomes many students’ online champion.

Consulting Sparknotes as a way to refresh your memory of the content of a text is a fine way to brush up on old knowledge, but using it instead of reading the original material is not sufficient to succeed in class.

Still, the validity of this literary study guide should be taken at face value and should be recognized as a more reliable source than many teachers would like to give it credit for.

Just as Wikipedia is now established as a generally reputable source, Sparknotes is worthy of the same reputation as a factually accurate reference.

“Under the right circumstances, Sparknotes can be a useful tool for students who need help understanding and analyzing certain pieces of literature reviewed in school,” said sophomore Wyndham Stopford.  “Unfortunately, it has instead gained the reputation as a way to get out of doing work, and as such, its use is discouraged by most teachers.”

The accuracy and dependability of this widely used student resource should be recognized as this under-appreciated online guide fills in the blanks that may otherwise be left open in the classroom setting.

If a student is having trouble analyzing a certain piece of text or looking for an alternative interpretation, Sparknotes is a great place to turn.

“Sparknotes can be a valuable resource if a student is in need of a different interpretation of a piece of literature,” said sophomore Sabina Unni.

It is a helpful aid in breaking down the more complex elements of a work and giving a thorough but straightforward analysis.

The resource is often most helpful, not for content, but for clarity.

“I don’t use Sparknotes very often, but on the rare occurrences that I have, it has always been pretty accurate and helpful,” said junior Nicole Boyd.  “It always provides a pretty reliable plot summary that comes in handy when you need a quick review before a reading quiz or in-class essay.”

Using this online study tool as a means of review for a quiz is perfectly acceptable so long as this is not the first time you will be looking at the material.

Although teachers have a hard time viewing Sparknotes as a reputable source, it is one of the most accessible forms of review and supplementary learning.

Students hope that it will soon be recognized by the school’s faculty as a more readily accepted resource.