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What is Khan Academy? Everything You Need to Know

Created in 2006, Khan Academy strives to make education free and accessible. That mission continues today, and Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The site is completely free to use. Content is accessible at any time without even making an account. Course materials are available at any time in any order, so students can use Khan Academy to identify and fill gaps in their knowledge at their own pace. If users choose to make an account, they can access a dashboard that further personalizes their learning experience and shares their progress with teachers and parents. 

Khan Academy also has resources for parents and teachers to use in the classroom. The Khan Academy dashboard allows teachers to view students’ progress to make learning more individualized. There are also courses for parents to learn the best ways to help their children.

Khan Academy has over 3,400 instructional videos. The website is used by millions of students around the world, and is translated in 36 languages including French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. 

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How are Khan Academy classes designed?

Khan Academy classes are organized by subjects. These include Math, Science, Arts and Humanities, and Life Skills (more on class topics below). Each class is broken down into units, and some units are further broken down by topic. 

Classes consist of mainly 15 minute long educational videos. The instructor, often the founder of Khan Academy himself, narrates the videos. This makes the videos suitable for auditory and visual learners.

In addition to videos, each unit has articles that students can read to increase their understanding of the topic. At the end of each unit, there is a unit test for students to evaluate their learning. At the end of each course, students can take the “course challenge” to study and practice their knowledge. 

There is no particular order for the class lessons. Students can jump around the classes and view as much or as little as they want to learn what they need.

View, for example, this U.S. History Course that has units organized by spans of time. Another example of the class design is the Statistics and Probability Course, which has units that are further broken down into sections with quizzes after each.

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How can I use Khan Academy?

Khan Academy is most effective when used to complement other study or education. The structure of the classes allows students to select which materials they should view to fill in gaps or test their knowledge. 

Khan Academy shares several studies on its Impact page to show the effectiveness of the site when used as a learning tool. For example, the site shares a 2017 study in which 89 middle school math teachers incorporated Khan Academy into their lessons for at least 30 minutes per week throughout the year. To assist the teachers, Khan Academy provided in-person education on how to best integrate the site. Using the site for 30+ minutes per week correlates with a difference of +22 points on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Mathematics test. Students also performed better than expected based on district targets. 

Khan Academy is also useful for preparation for standardized tests such as the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, and Praxis. Teachers and parents can use Khan Academy to help track their students’ learning.

What kinds of classes are available on Khan Academy?

Khan Academy offers a large library of classes on a variety of subjects. Subjects include:


With classes for each grade level Pre-K through 8th grade. There are also “Get Ready for…” courses that prepare students for the next level of math such as “Get Ready for 3rd Grade Math” and “Get Ready for AP Statistics.” 

High school and college math

With classes such as Algebra 1, Linear Algebra, and more.

Test prep

There are courses for several standardized tests including the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, and Praxis.


With classes including High school biology, AP/College Environmental Science, and more.


With topics such as Computer Programming, Computer Science, and Coding.

Arts and Humanities

Classes in this subject include US History, Art History, World History.


With Macroeconomics and Microeconomics at a range of rigor levels including AP and college.

Reading and Language Arts

There are classes for Reading and Language Arts for each level 2nd grade through 9th grade. There is also an English grammar course.

Life skills

With classes that offer guidance on Careers and Personal Finance.

How much does Khan Academy cost?

Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is completely free to use. 

Are certificates available?

Khan Academy is not an accredited school and cannot issue certificates or degrees.

Alternatives to Khan Academy

LinkedIn Learning

The main difference between LinkedIn Learning and Khan Academy is that LinkedIn Learning is not free to use. Additionally, LinkedIn Learning focuses more on career skills than academic topics. The two are similar in that the course content is video-based. If you’re interested in the Careers courses that Khan Academy offers, you may want to check out LinkedIn Learning!


Unlike Khan Academy, Udacity is not completely free to use. However, it does have a library of free classes. Udacity focuses more on career-related skills than learning for school. Some popular Udacity courses include Artificial Intelligence, Business, and Product Management. Unlike Khan Academy, Udacity offers certificates and “Nanodegrees” (for a price), and students can receive feedback from course instructors.


Unlike Khan Academy, Coursera partners with companies and universities to produce their classes. Another difference lies in the fact that it is not completely free to use. However, it does offer a range of free courses. Coursera offers students professional certifications and even degrees. The courses are video-based, and are on both academic and professional topics.

Related: Guide to Coursera scholarships and financial aid

Khan Academy summary

In summary, Khan Academy is a free-to-use site that has a library of video-based educational classes. The ability for users to access the whole site for free at any time makes learning more personalized. It’s best used to supplement other education. It allows students to identify what they need to study and focus on it. The site also offers tools for teachers and parents to track and individualize students’ learning. If you need to strengthen or practice your skills on an academic subject, try out Khan Academy!

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