While we may be living in an era where so much in our world can appear to change at the speed of light, one thing does seem to be fairly constant — kids cramming for exams. Many grade 9-12 students returning to class after the winter break are immediately hunkering down to study for a number of tests in a variety of subject areas.

Lucky for those residing in B.C., they now have access to a free online tutoring service available through learnnowbc.ca, an educational portal developed and operated by the Virtual School Society (VSS).

“One of our priorities is to give students easy access to a selection of tools and resources that will help them to be successful,” said VSS president Gordon Milne. “Through LearnNowBC students can access course content, sample tests and tutoring. They can test themselves and receive an assessment, which lets them see which areas they need to focus their studying on.

Our service can then provide them with customized study guides, which address their specific needs and it’s all available at no cost to them.”

Charged up for Math and Science, available 24 hours a day, gives students the opportunity to sample provincial exam questions and also offers streaming video explanations of answers.

StudyBUZZ, also available 24 hours a day, allows students to test themselves and assess what areas of study require more review and practice. Students can speak with B.C.-accredited teachers and tutors through chat rooms Sundays through Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Live workshops with teachers are also featured nightly, Monday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and followed by an online group discussion, including a question and answer period on the session.

VSS, which is funded through a grant from B.C.’s Ministry of Education, is hoping to expand this tutoring service to serve younger children, “We have a sense that there is a need for tutoring support in grades as low as three and four but we’re really looking to hear from parents and teachers to substantiate this,” said Milne.

In addition to supporting students, the portal provides information and resources to parents (e.g. cybersafety videos and workshops offering tips on keeping kids safe in an online environment) and training and tools to B.C. educators to enable them to support student learning.