SparkNotes: Superb Supplements or Cheap Cheat Sheets?

SparkNotes an extremely useful resource
By Jessica Lukrich
Staff Writer

SparkNotes: many students’ partner-in-crime but every English teacher’s number-one enemy. It is a weapon that helps students avoid sleep deprivation by night but earn undeserved grades by day. But does it have to be this way?
Cheating is in no way acceptable in a learning environment and SparkNotes can in no way serve as a substitute for renowned pieces of literature. However, using this handy resource to brush up on details and add a confidence kick to one’s insights and ideas is not benign. It can be a useful supplement available to resourceful and devoted students.
“SparkNotes is helpful because it answers our uncertainties about books and helps us to understand the stories more in-depth,” senior Xi Kuang said.
SparkNotes gives help to students who need some guidance when it comes to analyzing novels and it also helps teachers by providing an alternate method of learning. Even some very capable students may recognize SparkNotes as a confidence-booster, as it allows them to compare their formerly crafted insights against those of others to reassure themselves of their own analyses.
“Students can … try to tackle the text themselves, and then use [SparkNotes] to go back and see what they’ve missed, to kind of guide themselves,” English teacher Susana Herrera said.
If used honorably, the chapter-by-chapter summaries help students comprehend the material they have just absorbed. The site also provides many other helpful guides such as AP, SAT and standardized test prep, and the professional notes are pithy and easy to absorb.
Clearly, SparkNotes has an unjustly negative connotation among some. Teachers and students ought to leave behind their disapproving scoffs and questioning looks when the topic of SparkNotes is mentioned. Rather, they should keep in mind that if used correctly, it can serve as a useful tool for students of varying capabilities.

SparkNotes pointless when used to cheat
By Kalyn Nakano
Staff Writer

At the click of a button, students are guaranteed easy access to analysis of almost every piece of literature assigned to them throughout the course of their high school career. Because it saves time and effort, students often resort to “SparkNoting” in order to get away with the most while doing the least.
While SparkNotes may be helpful for supplementing lengthy reading assignments or preparing for SAT and AP tests, it is too often used as a complete replacement for the actual text. Instead of reading the assigned literature, students are turning to SparkNotes to basically help them cheat. The site is essentially useless if it is used as a complete substitute rather than a supplement to the reading.
“It’s important that you actually read the book if you’re going to use SparkNotes,” junior Angela Tang said.
As it only provides general cookie-cutter analyses and summaries, SparkNotes alone fails to compensate for any missed reading assignments.
“I failed my reading assessment because I used SparkNotes to replace the reading,” sophomore Terrence Cape said. “SparkNotes doesn’t go deep enough to answer a lot of the questions on reading quizzes, so I learned my lesson.”
Teachers are also aware of the attention SparkNotes gets from their students, and users are easy targets for plagiarism and lower grades. Over-utilization of the site also creates a “right answer” mentality, as it allows for students to slack off and accept anything the site claims in their analyses as undeniably true. Furthermore, when homework piles up and time becomes an issue, having SparkNotes available as a last-minute resort not only encourages plagiarism but also instills a bad habit in students to procrastinate.
While SparkNotes itself is not evil, it is ultimately detrimental to many students and teachers because English students are too often using the site to save them time and are cheating themselves out of chances to learn.