The Best Essay Checker: 5 Tested & Ranked

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Students on the high school and college levels have to write an awful lot. Essays, term papers, thesis reports, and more can easily overwhelm the most studious of students. And when we’re stressed to the max, we can make silly mistakes.

student studying

(Image Source)

Some mistakes are manageable, like the occasional grammar, punctuation, or spelling issue. These can adversely affect your overall grade, but they’re generally forgivable. What can really ruin an educational journey, however, is unintentional plagiarism.

When a student plagiarises content, it’s akin to copying off of another student’s work. It is cheating, plain and simple. Plagiarism can cause a student to fail that particular project, with a big 0% grade. Oftentimes, plagiarism can lead to a student failing an entire course on the college level. And sometimes, in extreme circumstances, plagiarism can cause a student to be expelled from their educational program.

The truly sad part is that most plagiarism is unintentional. A simple citation mistake and you suddenly find yourself staring at an F. With all of the writing assignments students have to complete, a subscription to a top-notch grammar and plagiarism checker should be an obvious purchase.

Often times these programs are the difference between a passing grade and a failure. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a student’s academic success could be greatly impacted by the acquisition of a grammar and plagiarism checker.

Educators can also get a lot of mileage out of such a tool. Yes, English professors have a substantial grasp on grammar already, but it never hurts to have another pair of virtual eyes gloss over a student’s work to double check anything you might have missed. After all, when you’re correcting your 25th paper of the evening, it can get a little tiresome.

Furthermore, teachers can utilize the plagiarism detection software to ensure that their students are adhering to academic integrity standards.

But not all grammar and plagiarism checkers are created equal. You want to make sure that the program that you’re using is accurate, affordable, and user-friendly. That’s why we’ve compiled this list, comparing four different grammar and plagiarism checkers, grading them on a slew of criteria to help you decide which program is right for you.

How Many Students Plagiarize?

Are you scoffing to yourself right now, thinking that there’s no way that many students cheat on their assignments?

Well, think again.

Plagiarism is a huge problem throughout the academic world, and it’s not getting much better as technology becomes more ingrained in our daily lives.

There are two different kinds of plagiarism, intentional and unintentional.

Intentional plagiarism is the most egregious of offenses. It occurs when a student copies and pastes someone else’s content into their work, fully knowing what they’re doing and making no effort to cite.

Unintentional plagiarism is far more common. It happens when a student improperly cites information. This kind of offense is more forgivable and is corrected through education. That’s something a plagiarism detection program can provide. Many of the systems we’re going to be exploring today seek to help students gain a better understanding of their citation mistakes to help them avoid unintentional plagiarism in the future.

academic integrity in college and graduate school survey

This survey which we pulled from, (citation at work) paints a horrifying picture of academic dishonesty.

Among undergraduate students, 36% admit to paraphrasing and copying from a web source without footnoting it. That statistic also applies to 24% of graduate students. That is proof positive that grammar and plagiarism checkers are important for the modern student’s educational journey.

Now let’s get into the individual programs.

1. Grammarly

Grammarly is our number one rated service for checking plagiarism and grammar. Students can take advantage of Grammarly’s spelling, punctuation, and grammar abilities by utilizing their free program. Anyone looking for more advanced feedback and plagiarism detection would have to use Grammarly Premium, their paid subscription service.

Grammarly website

Grammarly’s free service can be useful for students on the high school level, but it may prove too limited for college students.

Using the free service, students can check their essays by uploading or pasting their content into Grammarly’s website. The system then goes through what you’ve submitted and gives you feedback based on its findings.

Free users can also utilize Grammarly’s browser extension, which corrects content that you’re writing on different websites. This can include social media channels and emails. While that doesn’t have much of an impact on educational work, students can still get some extra use out of Grammarly in this regard.

Grammarly Premium is where the service really shines.

Grammarly plans and pricing

As you can see, it comes at quite the cost. Yearly subscriptions can be purchased for $139.95, which comes out to $11.66 per month, or you could take it on a month-to-month basis for $29.95 per month.

The monthly rate may be a bit stiff for your average student, but we’ve found that the annual and quarterly plans are far more reasonable based on everything you get.

For starters, Grammarly Premium has an advanced grammar checker that not only offers suggestions on how to correct mistakes, but it also teaches you how to avoid falling into that trap in the future.

Grammarly provides information on proper complete sentences

Grammarly Premium also helps your writing become more dynamic, fighting against a passive voice with vocabulary suggestions. It isolates overused terms and offers you suggestions on how to fix them.

Grammarly’s plagiarism checker is top notch. We ran a sample article through its system that was loaded with plagiarised content. It identified 86% of the content as problematic. It told us that there were 60 instances of plagiarism that came from 11 different web sources.

Grammarly plagiarism checker

The only real downsides to Grammarly are its language limitations and the overall price. Grammarly only supports the English language, which leaves a large percentage of the world’s population out.

The price, as we’ve mentioned before, is a bit high. But the old adage that you get what you pay for rings especially true in Grammarly’s case.

2. BibMe

BibMe is specifically marketed to the educational sector, mostly to students.

bibme features

Like most of the services on our list, BibMe has a free version and a paid premium plan. The free version is incredibly simplistic and I fear it may be useless to students regardless of their education level.

bibme free vs paid plans and features

As you can see above, they limit their free offerings to 20 suggestions for improving sentence structure, punctuation, writing style, and grammar. So, if you have more than 20 issues, you’re going to be missing out. It also offers no plagiarism checks whatsoever.

Both their free and premium version share the ability to add citations and a bibliography into your paper that adhere to multiple styles and types. While that’s great, it doesn’t undo the limitations of the free version.

Their Premium Plan’s pricing is pretty great. For $9.95 per month you get unlimited suggestions on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and so on. You also get unlimited checks for plagiarism and missing citations. The system comes with a free three-day trial, so you can try BibMe out on one of your essays to see how you like it. At the end of those three days it will auto charge your card, so if you find the system lacking, it’s important to remember to cancel.

I really liked BibMe’s system, as it was very thorough and went through our sample content with a fine tooth comb.

bibme plagiarism checker in action

Their plagiarism checker tore our plagiarism copy to shreds, identifying 230 instances where citations were needed.

Unfortunately, they have no information available about what kind of database they’re using to gauge plagiarism. They seem to go out of their way to not give you that info. They also don’t allow any report exporting, which for a student is not a huge deal.

A teacher might want to export a plagiarism report on one of their students’ papers, but there’s no real practical use of this service for a student, and that is who this product is geared toward. They only offer service in English and they have no mobile functionality, which I found to be a bit of a bummer.

Despite that, I would absolutely recommend BibMe to students on all levels, but educators should look for a more complete program.

3. PaperRater

PaperRater is another service that markets specifically to students.

paperrater website

It’s a startup, meaning that the system is still in its infancy. It has both a free and paid premium plan. I found their free limitations to be very fair to the needs of the average student.

Free users can use their plagiarism checker, which is rare. That’s usually a premium service. Students that are using the free plan can perform 10 plagiarism checks in a month. These queries can’t be more than 5 pages of 300 words each. That means 1,500 words per search, which is perfect for most essays.

Free users can have their grammar and spelling checked, receive writing suggestions, and automated scoring.

Their premium plan is priced well at only $7.95 per month on a one-year commitment. That’s right in the wheelhouse of most students as far as affordability goes. The premium plan can make 25 plagiarism checks in a month, with each check limited to 20 pages of 300 words each. That’s 6,000 words per check.

Unfortunately, I found their accuracy to be lacking.

paperrater flagging for plagiarism

When performing a plagiarism check, PaperRater gave our sample content an originality score of 33%. That means it found 67% of this copy to be plagiarized. This was the same content that we ran through Grammarly, which found 86% plagiarism.

That’s an awful lot of content that was completely glossed over. I still maintain that the free plan is decent for students if you can’t afford anything else. But I can’t recommend spending any money on a service that is so inaccurate.

4. Citation Machine

Citation Machine searches your paper for grammatical issues, unintentional plagiarism, sentence structure, style, and punctuation.

citation machine website

My first thought upon using this system was, “wow, this looks and feels a lot like BibMe!” Then I realized that a lot of the wording was identical. Then I realized that the dashboard was also exactly the same.

I soon looked up at the header of this website and I realized that it was listed as “A Chegg Service” which is the same company that owns BibMe.

So what we have here are two different programs that are the exact same thing, owned by the exact same company, but with a different color scheme for each.

The pricing is exactly the same. Their free service offers 20 checks per paper, same as BibMe. Their premium plan is $9.99 per month with a three days free trial, also just like BibMe.

At first, I thought about closing this program up and trying to find something else for this list, but then I decided I wanted to check the two services against one another. Can Citation Machine do anything that BibMe can’t?

I signed up for their three-day trial and ran the same piece of content through their system. My results were very similar, with a slight difference in the article’s plagiarism score.

Citation Machine in action

Looks pretty familiar, right? What I found interesting though was that BibMe identified 230 instances of plagiarism and Citation Maker found 229. So it was one off. You’d think that identical services would pull from the exact same system.

If you’re a fan of BibMe then you’ll also enjoy Citation Machine. Save for one missing instance of plagiarism they are 100% the same product owned by the exact same company. Originally, I had chosen a service called EasyBib for our final entry, but upon further examination, I realized that this too was a carbon copy of BibMe and Citation Machine.

5. Plagly

Plagly has no grammar checking component, but it markets itself as a free plagiarism checker, which I thought sounded too good to be true. I was correct.

plagly homepage

My first thought upon hearing about Plagly was that, if it were truly a free plagiarism checker it could work side by side with Grammarly’s free grammar checker to provide a complete service at no cost.

If that sounds a bit too good to be true, that’s because it is.

Plagly actually offers nothing for free. It claims to check your paper free of charge, but it won’t actually give you any results unless you throw down money.

plagly detecting significant plagiarism

I entered our same content into Plagly and was greeted with this message. It identified “significant” plagiarism. It says that the content is 39% unique, meaning 61% plagiarized. Already, we know from our earlier checks that this system is lacking. Grammarly identified 86%, so Plagly is missing more than a ¼ of the plagiarized content in this article.

The examples that it is highlighting in red and green in this image are not pulled from the article that it was checking. Instead, this is simply a sample of what their premium checking service looks like.

Their paid plan costs $9.99 per month. I was curious so I tried it out. I pasted our content into Plagly’s premium dashboard and waited….and waited…..and waited.

plagly plagiarism report

I left the screen up for more than 15 minutes and Plagly never completed its task. I tried this multiple times and still, I got no results.

This is one of the worst checkers I’ve encountered. It claims to be a free service while offering nothing for free. Then, once I actually forked over the money to try them out, the system didn’t even work.

This is a hard pass on all levels.

Examine Your Needs

When it comes to the need for a grammar and plagiarism checking service, you first have to identify your personal needs.

If you’re a student, how much help do you need? Where is your understanding of proper citation? Do you trust yourself to not make a costly mistake?

If you’re an educator, how many students do you have? How much time are you giving yourself to check all of their assignments?

For teachers, I recommend Grammarly Premium hands down. It is far and away the most sophisticated and accurate system on our list. For students, I would also recommend Grammarly, but only if it fits your budget. There’s no sense in breaking the bank if it will cause you more stress. Save that for finals week. If Grammarly is not in the financial cards, I think a service like BibMe or Citation Machine would suit your needs perfectly. If you need a free service as a student, try Grammarly’s free plan coupled with the free plagiarism checking services of PaperRater. Just know that it won’t be a fully accurate experience.

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