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Frequently Asked Questions About Tacoma Public Library's Online Homework Help

What is HelpNow?
HelpNow is a comprehensive suite of tutoring services designed for a range of academic needs, whether it's tackling a tough homework problem, learning an academic skill or writing a term paper.

When can I access HelpNow services?
HelpNow is available every day, 1 - 10 p.m.

How do I access HelpNow?
You can access it from virtually any computer with Internet access, including a library terminal, a home computer or your notebook connected to the Internet at your local coffee shop. All you need is your Tacoma Pulic Library Card number. LOG ON to HelpNow here.

What services does HelpNow offer?

  • Homework Help: Students submit a question in our online classroom and receive live, one-on-one assistance from a Brainfuse tutor.
  • Skills Building: Our skills building service helps students master a concept or skill through state-aligned online lessons, presented by Brainfuse tutors in one-to-one sessions. HelpNow Skills Building has been designed for a variety of age groups and academic needs.
  • 24-Hour Writing Lab: Our writing instructors help students become better writers by providing constructive feedback, and other assistance, within 24 hours of receiving a student's submission.
  • Test Center: Visit our online assessment library and take online tests in standardized tests (SAT, ACT, GED and more) and subject specific tests, such as math and science. Get results instantly and, if you choose, share them with one of our tutors for a targeted skills building session.
  • 24/7 Help Center: Students submit questions via our online form and a tutor will respond within 24 hours to the student's question
  • Foreign Language Center: Students receive live online help with their foreign language homework from our fluent foreign language tutors.
  • Adult Education Center: Adults can receive live online help from our trained adult education specialists in areas such as U.S. Citizenship testing, resume and cover letter writing assistance and core subject education.
  • Full Spanish-Speaking Service: Spanish-speaking tutors are offered coextensively (same subjects and hours of availability) with our English-speaking tutors.

What is the difference between "Homework Help" and "Skills Building"?
As the name implies, when you need help with your homework, select "Homework Help." If you need help with a specific academic skill, such as mastering long division or improving your reading comprehension, select "Skills Building" and you will be connected with one of our live tutors. Our skills-building tutors utilize our library of state-aligned online materials in interactive skills building exercises.

How does the writing lab work?
HelpNow is the first service of its kind to offer several types of writing assistance:

  1. Live Writing Assistance - (For immediate, overall help) Provides live help during the initial stages of the writing process to help students with organizational structure, fluency and solidification of ideas and style.
  2. 24-Hour Writing Lab - (For more detailed help) Students submit their writing in file format. Our writing tutors will return the file with extensive, detailed comments within 24 hours. It should be noted that the purpose of this service is not to write or edit essays for students but to serve as a sounding board in order to help students better organize and present their thoughts. Our writing experts are trained to guide you in your writing, focusing on voice, word choice, grammar, content, sentence fluency and organization.

Who are my tutors?
HelpNow tutors are trained and certified by Brainfuse. All tutors have been cleared with thorough background and reference checks, must possess a four-year degree, and have prior teaching/tutoring experience. All tutors are U.S. based.

What Subjects are Offered?
HelpNow is available for students in grades 3- Adult learners in the following subjects:
  • Math, including Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus.
  • Science, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Science.
  • Social Studies, including US History, and World History.
  • English/Language Arts
    • Writing Assistance consists of three components:
      • Live writing assistance during the initial stages of the writing process to help students with organizational structure, idea trees, general conceptual hierarchy, etc.
      • State-aligned skills building exercises that challenge students to respond to a series of writing prompts and short exercises.
      • 24-Hour Writing Lab (described above)
    • Reading Comprehension/Grammar/Vocabulary Skills Building through one-on-one sessions that draw from our library of state-aligned reading passages and questions.
    • English Literature
  • Foreign Languages

What is the Foreign Language Center?
Our new Foreign Language Center provides expert homework assistance and support for students who are learning a foreign language. While Spanish is our first offering, other languages and helpful online resources will be added in the future. Please note that the foreign language center is currently not offering foreign language courses, but instead offers help to students with their foreign language homework.

What are the qualifications of the Foreign Language Center tutors?
All foreign language tutors must have advanced fluency in their respective languages, with preference given to native speakers. In addition, all tutors must go through the same rigorous selection and screening process as all HelpNow tutors.