Can You Make Money From Matched Betting

Can You Make Money from Matched Betting?

Some of you may know that in my earlier career I wrote quite a lot about gambling, principally for subscription-based newsletters such as Risk Free Betting News and The Winning Report (both now closed). Matched betting is a concept I hadn’t really come across till earlier earlier this year, however, and initially I dismissed it as having limited money-making potential.

It just shows how wrong you can be.

What changed my mind initially was that my blogging colleague Emma Drew was promoting matched betting heavily on her blog. She said it was her favourite side-hustle, and the figures she shared (around £12,000 profit in a year) were certainly compelling. I decided I needed to find out more, so I did some research on it. I’ve set out what I found below.

What is Matched Betting?

Matched betting is a method for making risk-free profits by cleverly taking advantage of offers made by online bookmakers.

The best offers are those made to attract new clients. Here’s an example. Coral offer a £20 free bet for new online customers. To get this, you have to open an account with them and deposit and bet £5. Once you have done this, Coral will immediately credit you with £20 worth of free bets.

So how do you turn this into a guaranteed profit? Ah, that’s the clever bit. You make use of a website called an exchange (Smarkets and Betfair are two of the better known). These sites allow anyone to lay a bet (i.e. bet that the outcome in question won’t happen). By backing with a bookmaker and laying the same bet at an exchange you can ensure that however the event pans out, you will only make a small loss or occasionally a tiny profit (depending on the odds available).

So far, so underwhelming. With a normal bet this is obviously of limited value, but when your first bet qualifies you for a second (and in Coral’s case much larger) free bet, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. Here’s an example…

At the time of writing, Hull City are about to play Everton in the Premiership. You can back Hull to win with Coral at 4.75 (15/4 in the more traditional but less useful fractional style) and lay them with Smarkets at 4.70. If you put £5 on Hull with Coral and at the same time lay Hull to the appropriate stakes (something I’ll come to shortly) you can ensure that whether Hull do or do not win, your net loss will be just 2p.

But now, because you are a new member, Coral will give you £20 worth of free bets. You can back and lay these again to generate a guaranteed profit. For the sake of simplicity let’s say you use the same market, Everton v Hull, although you certainly don’t have to. At the odds mentioned, and backing to the correct stakes, you can guarantee yourself a net profit of £15.70 either way. Subtract the 2p loss from your qualifying bet, and once the dust has settled you will have made a risk-free (and tax-free) £15.68. If your bet loses with the bookie, your profit will be in the exchange (remember, this is a free bet so it hasn’t cost you anything). If the bet wins at the bookie, you will lose money at the exchange, but your winnings with the bookie will exceed this, giving you the same net profit either way.

Those are the bare bones of matched betting. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but most matched betting opportunities boil down to this. You place an initial qualifying bet and lay it to ensure (at worst) a small net loss, and then back and lay the free bet you receive to make yourself a guaranteed profit.

So How Do You Find Matches and Calculate Stakes?

You can of course do all this yourself in theory, but that would be very time-consuming and involve a lot of mathematics. Fortunately there are online services that will do all this for you and provide step-by-step instructions. You can apply these even if you have never placed a bet in your life before.

Here’s the service I use and recommend for beginners to matched betting…

Profit Accumulator

Profit Accumulator is a dedicated matched betting site. You can join free initially and they will provide details of two offers you can take advantage of straight away. These should make you around £45 in net profit. If you wish to proceed further, you can then pay to become a Platinum member and get access to their full range of offers and services.

As well as detailed instructions on offers you can profit from, Profit Accumulator also provide online software you can use. Their Oddsmatching tool helps you find markets where the back and lay odds are as close as possible, so you can minimize your qualifying losses and maximize the value of your free bets.

And they also have calculators, where you enter the back and lay odds and how much you want to bet at the bookmaker. The calculator then reveals how much you need to lay at the exchange to guarantee a set profit.

A further advantage of joining Profit Accumulator is that you get access to the members-only forum, where you can get any questions you may have answered by more experienced members and/or the team behind PA.

What Happens When You’ve Exhausted All the Opening Offers?

This was the first thing I wondered, and I know other people do as well. First of all, it will take you quite a long time to work through all the offers on the PA website. In total, they currently list 64. Not all of these are as simple and straightforward as the Coral offer, but nonetheless if you follow the step-by-step instructions they can all generate a healthy profit for you.

After that, you can move on to reload offers. These are offers made by bookmakers for existing members to encourage them to keep coming back and using their service. Reload offers work in a wide range of ways. Some provide a guaranteed profit if you apply them correctly, while others sometimes make a small qualifying loss but other times produce a much larger profit, generating a good net profit overall. Reload offers are also listed on the PA website and updated every day.

My Own Experience

I joined Profit Accumulator in September 2016, initially as a free member. Once I had completed the opening offers and was convinced of the potential of this money-making approach, I upgraded to Platinum membership.

I paid for a year’s membership straight off as this is more economical, but if you are more cautious you can also pay monthly. At the time of writing this costs £22.99 a month. Your first month will, of course, be more than covered by the profits from the initial (free) offers.

Three months on, my total profits stand at just over £1000. Other people do better, but I have had a busy few months (including launching this blog!) so have only been matched betting now and then. It has already become one of my favourite side hustles, though, and the fact that it is tax-free in the UK (as it is regarded as gambling) is another bonus.

Is Matched Betting for Everyone?

In principle anyone can do matched betting, but it is probably more suitable for some people than others. In particular, it will help if you have a small amount of capital to get started – at least £50, preferably £100 or more.

If you have less you can still do it, but it will take longer to build up your earnings. Remember that you will need money to fund your qualifying bets at the bookmaker sites and also your exchange account. You don’t lose this money – it simply moves between bookie and exchange according to how events pan out – and you can always withdraw it if required. But to operate as a matched bettor you do need to have some ‘working capital’.

The other requirement to make a success of matched betting is that you need to be reasonably well organized and methodical. Matched betting is not difficult once you grasp the basic concept, but if you make a mistake it is possible to lose money doing it. Initially at least it’s important to take it slowly and steadily and follow the instructions on Profit Accumulator (if you have signed up with them) to the letter. It helps to be numerate as well, although the actual calculations are done for you by the Oddsmatching tool and calculators.

I plan to cover other aspects of matched betting in future posts, so please do sign up in the right-hand column to be notified when the blog is updated (you can also follow PAS on social media and Bloglovin). And if you think matched betting may be for you, do click through to the Profit Accumulator website to see what they offer and sign up for the free trial.

As ever, if you have any questions or comments about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below.

 

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Merry Christmas from Pounds and Sense!

Happy Christmas 2016!

Just wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a fulfilling and prosperous new year.

Even if you don’t celebrate the religious festival, I hope you enjoy the festive period. Thank you for your interest in Pounds and Sense. Without you, I really would be whistling in the wind!

Pounds and Sense is of course still very new, so I thought it might be helpful to list the posts I have made so far, in case you want to catch up with them over the holiday period. They are as follows:

Make Money and Help University Researchers with Prolific Academic – I’m a big fan of this website, which not only allows you to earn a few pounds helping researchers, but gives your little grey cells a workout into the bargain.

How I Scored a £1200 Mattress for just 10 Minutes’ Work as an Amazon Vine Reviewer – In this post I reveal the amazing range of products I have been able to obtain for free as an Amazon Vine reviewer. I also explain how you may be able to become a Vine Voice yourself, and suggest an alternative that is nearly as good to try in the meantime.

Sign Up Now for this Free Online Course on Managing Your Investments from FutureLearn – The course in question, which is run by The Open University, starts on 9 January. I’ve enrolled on it myself. Hope to see you there!

Save Money with Cashback Sites – You can save a lot of money on your online shopping with cashback sites, and even make money as well. Find out about the top two UK cashback sites in this post.

Get Money Off Gift Vouchers with Zeek – Zeek is an online platform for buying and selling gift vouchers. Right now they are running a special Christmas promotion where you get 10 percent cashback for every £100 worth of vouchers you buy (In addition to the discount of 4-15% on the face value of the vouchers themselves). Plus you can get an additional £5 off your first voucher purchase by signing up via the link in the post. What’s not to love?!

There will, of course, be many more posts to come on Pounds and Sense in the coming months, and I don’t want you to miss out! So please do sign up in the box on the right to receive notifications any time the blog is updated or when I have urgent and valuable information to pass on. You can also follow Pounds and Sense on Facebook, Twitter and other social media (again, click on the relevant icons in the right-hand column).

It only remains once again to wish you a wonderful Christmas. I will hope very much to see you regularly on Pounds and Sense in the new year.

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Get Money Off Gift Vouchers with Zeek

Get Money Off Gift Vouchers With Zeek

Updated November 2017

Zeek is a marketplace for gift vouchers from a wide range of retailers, including many well-known high-street and online stores.

As a Zeek member, you can buy gift vouchers (printed and online) at a discount to the face value. Discounts aren’t massive, typically ranging from 3% to 15%, but of course that’s still a handy saving if you were planning on shopping at that store anyway. Here’s a screen capture from the Zeek sales page showing just a handful of the retailers whose vouchers you can order.

Zeek merchants and discounts

As mentioned, Zeek is a marketplace, and that means you can sell your vouchers there as well. If you have any gift vouchers you don’t need, you can use Zeek to convert them to cash instead. Of course, you won’t get the full face value, but you can decide for yourself how much you want to offer them for. This is further discussed below.

I joined Zeek recently and bought a Marks and Spencer’s gift voucher, as I regularly buy clothes and other things there. I got 6% off a £25 voucher, reducing it to £23.50. I also got a £3 new member’s bonus by entering a special code, so that reduced the price still further to £20.50. I’m all set to go shopping there now!

Speaking of bonuses, as a Zeek member myself I can offer you the same one I had. Just click through this link and use the code 2X2LW2AF when signing up. A £3 promotional credit will then be added to your account. This must be used on a voucher purchase within ten days.

Once you have ordered and paid for a voucher (you can use a card or PayPal), it will appear immediately in your Zeek wallet if for online use, or it will be posted to you free of charge using recorded delivery. My M&S voucher was for online purchases, so I got a serial number and pin code to use when redeeming it on the website.

Top Tip! Amazon vouchers are available on Zeek but tend to sell out very quickly. Do a search on the Zeek site, and if there aren’t any currently on offer you will be invited to sign up to receive a notification the next time they are on sale.



How to Sell Vouchers on Zeek

I haven’t tried this yet myself, but the procedure looks simple enough. Just click on Sell Gift Cards at the top of the screen, and enter details of the card you want to sell. You will be asked to provide a photo of the voucher and some information, including its face value and expiry date. You also have to say how much of a discount you want to offer. In general, the bigger the discount, the faster your voucher will sell.

Zeek charge a £3 processing fee for selling a voucher, but before you put one on sale you will see exactly how much money you will be getting for it. Zeek say that 92% of all vouchers are sold within a day, with the money transferred to your PayPal or bank account.

Once again, don’t forget that you can get a £3 promotional credit just by clicking through this link and using the code 2X2LW2AF when signing up. If you have any questions or comments about Zeek, please do post them below.

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Save Money with Cashback Sites

Save Money with Cashback Sites

If you ever buy anything online, you can almost certainly save some money by signing up with cashback sites.

In this post I’ll be discussing the top two UK cashback websites, Quidco and Top Cashback, both of which I have belonged to for some years and can vouch for.

The idea behind cashback sites is that they are free to join (although premium membership may be available at a small cost) and provide links to a range of online retailers. When a member clicks through one of these links and buys something (or performs some other action) the cashback site receives a commission from the retailer. Rather than keep all this for themselves, the sites return some or all of the commission they get to the member in question.

So if, for example, you need home insurance, you could click through to a broker’s website from the cashback site. If you then buy a policy from that broker, some or all of the commission paid to the cashback website is credited to your account. You can then withdraw it to your bank account, PayPal or even as vouchers for your favourite merchant.

As mentioned, I have been a member of the two sites mentioned above for several years now, and have made hundreds of pounds from both. Via Quidco, for example, I recently made £110 in commission when I clicked through their link to the Nutmeg financial services website and opened an investment account. Although described as cashback, really this was more like a bonus, as the money I invested with Nutmeg does of course remain mine and I can get it back at any time. My Nutmeg investment has actually risen in value by over £700 since I invested a few months ago, so this has clearly been a worthwhile investment in more ways than one!

With Top Cashback I recently pocketed a more modest £40 cashback by switching my gas/electricity provider using a comparison service listed on the website (the cashback came from the comparison service rather than the energy provider). I shall be saving around £500 a year by switching provider, so again the cashback feels more like a bonus than the return of any money I have spent.

You don’t always have to spend money to benefit from cashback sites either. Both Quidco and Top Cashback list offers where you can get money simply asking for a quote or some other action. On Quidco you can earn up to £4.95 at the time of writing by ordering a free SIM card from GiffGaff, while on Top Cashback you can get £2.64 by requesting a quote for your car insurance from Confused.com.

You can also make money by introducing friends and family to these sites. Offers change from time to time, but typically you are paid between £5 to £10 when someone joins via your link and earns cashback themselves. The links in this post are referral links, of course.

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of cashback websites. I highly recommend signing up with both Quidco and Top Cashback, as they compete feverishly with each other to offer the best deals.



Do Cashback Sites have any Drawbacks?

Not drawbacks exactly, but there are certain things to be aware of.

For starters, you only get paid by the cashback site when they receive payment from the merchant concerned. Sometimes this happens within a week or two but other times it can take a lot longer.

Also, the system depends on your visit to the merchant being tracked by the software, and this doesn’t always work as it should. This happened to me recently when I made a groceries purchase from Asda. It didn’t track for some reason, so I had to open a claim via Top Cashback. Eventually I did get my money, but it took over three months.

So one thing to remember is not to rely on your cashback arriving quickly (or indeed at all). You should only make a purchase via a cashback site if you genuinely want- or preferably need – the item in question and believe it is good value. The cashback then will be a welcome bonus when it arrives.

For Readers Outside the UK

Finally, if you live outside the UK, there are cashback websites in many other countries as well (for example, Top Cashback now has a US operation, Top Cashback USA). Just do a Google search for “cashback website” plus your country’s name and see what results come up. Or check out this article on the MakeUseOf website which lists a number of such sites serving the US. Read the comments section below the MakeUseOf article for a range of international cashback sites as well.

As ever, if you have any comments or queries about Quidco and Top Cashback or cashback sites more generally, please do post them below.

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Sign Up Now for this Free Online Course on Managing Your Investments from Futurelearn

Sign Up Now for this Free Online Course on Managing Your Investments from Futurelearn

Futurelearn is a UK-based platform for short online courses from British and international universities. All Futurelearn courses are free and open to anyone in the world.

I thought you might like to know that a course titled Managing My Investments begins on 20 March 2017. It comes from The Open University. It will run for six weeks and you can enrol now if you wish.

Managing My Investments is intended for anyone with an interest in developing their personal financial skills to make good decisions when managing their investments and buying investment products. The course does not require any previous experience of this subject.

On the website, it says:

On this free online course, you’ll learn about different investment choices, the returns and risks associated with each, and the evidence about their historical performance. You’ll explore investment strategies, as well as the practicalities about involvement in personal finance markets. And you’ll look at how to avoid the individual and group behavioural traits that can impair effective investment decision making .

Throughout, the course will provide recent and current case studies on investment issues, to demonstrate how the ideas and issues explored in the course are reflected in the arena of personal investments.

The course is up-to-date and covers the current reforms to UK pensions due to be rolled out in 2015 – changes that will radically alter the way many people will use their pension savings as they move into retirement .

Managing My Investments aims to give you the knowledge and confidence to take charge of your investments and your financial future.




Finding Out More

The course is run by Martin Upton of the OU Business School (previously Treasurer of the Nationwide Building Society). It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.

For more information (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Managing My Investments information page of the Futurelearn website.

Futurelearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I recently took one called Strategies for Successful Ageing from Trinity College, Dublin, which was informative and thought-provoking. I am currently half-way through a course on understanding diabetes (I was diagnosed as prediabetic earlier this year).

As well as the teaching, another big attraction of Futurelearn courses is the opportunity they provide to interact with fellow students from all over the world. There is often almost as much to learn from the other students as the course material itself!

I am also enrolled on Managing My Investments, so if you decide to sign up for the course, keep an eye out for me on the course website. I try to comment regularly and get as actively involved as I can in discussions 🙂

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please do post them below.

NOTE: This course has been postponed till 20 March 2017 from its original start date of 9 January. I have amended the post accordingly.

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How I scored a £1200 mattress as an Amazon Vine reviewer!

How I Scored a £1200 Mattress for just 10 Minutes’ Work as an Amazon Vine Reviewer!

I’ve been an Amazon Vine reviewer for around five years now. In some ways it’s been the most profitable sideline I’ve ever had.

For those who don’t know, Amazon Vine is a programme run by Amazon where they send products free of charge to selected individuals (known as ‘Vine Voices’) in exchange for reviewing them. You don’t get paid for these reviews, but you can of course keep the item concerned.

You might imagine that the main thing Vine reviewers get is books. It’s true that there are plenty of these on offer, but of course Amazon sell loads of other things as well. In the time I’ve been a Vine Voice I’ve reviewed all the following:

  • lawn mower
  • saucepan set
  • vacuum cleaners (two of these)
  • clothes airer
  • hair-dryer
  • back-massager
  • suitcase
  • cordless iron
  • cat treats
  • microphone
  • bathroom bin
  • and many more!

The most valuable item I have ever had as a Vine Voice was a £1200 luxury mattress. Considering that I only had to pen a couple of hundred words about it, that probably counts as my best-paid writing job ever. As you might expect for that price, it is very comfortable! I’ve put a link to the Amazon sales page below:

And here’s the review I wrote about it, in case you can’t find this:

The first thing to say is that this is a VERY heavy mattress. I had to pay two men to manoeuvre it up the stairs and into the bedroom, and was afraid that the younger one in particular would do himself an injury.

Thankfully you don’t have to turn this mattress over, just from end to end, which I might just about manage without having to call for reinforcements…

Another practical point to bear in mind is that this mattress is deeper than most, so on a normal divan base you will be quite high up. If you worry about falling out of bed, therefore, this may not be the mattress for you.

With all that said, the mattress is very comfortable to sleep on. It is described as Medium/Soft, which worried me a little, as I tend to prefer my mattresses on the firm side. It turned out not to be a problem, though. The material moulds itself to the shape of your body, giving even support from head to toe. I have been sleeping very well on it, and waking up without any bed-induced aches or pains.

Overall, as you might expect for the price, it is a very good, comfortable mattress, which I would have given five stars apart from the practical and logistical issues mentioned above.

I see the price has come down quite a lot since I reviewed it. But still not a bad return for the few minutes the above took to write, wouldn’t you agree?

The Downside

Does Amazon Vine membership have any drawbacks? Well, not really, but it has its limitations. For starters, you can’t just pick anything to review. As a Vine Voice you get access to a dedicated web page where a range of products is set out and you can pick any you like to review. As you might expect, there are limited stocks of review products, and popular ones tend to be snapped up quickly. So you have to get in the habit of checking regularly to see what is available, and move quickly when you see something you like.

The other slight drawback is that you aren’t supposed to sell the products you receive. That means you can’t just review a product, then put it up for sale on eBay. Or at least, if you do this and Amazon find out, your tenure as a Vine Voice will be swiftly terminated. For the record, I have never done this myself, although I do sometimes give the products away to friends.



How Do You Become a Vine Voice?

Ah, that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? I never actually applied to Amazon – I had reviewed a few products in the past – not a vast number – and received an email out of the blue inviting me to join.

And that’s the thing. You can’t just submit an application. It’s invitation only, so you have to wait for the call to come. New reviewers are constantly being recruited, though, so you can boost your chances by regularly submitting reviews of Amazon products. Obviously you won’t receive any payment for this, but it’s all good practice and effectively represents your letter of application.

At the risk of stating the obvious, you need to create high-quality reviews that gain good feedback and ‘helpful’ votes from customers. Your reviews should be honest, mention both positives and negatives, and answer the sorts of question a potential buyer might ask before buying the item concerned. If you do this regularly, there is every chance you will be invited to join Amazon Vine at some point in the future.

The Vipon Alternative

Alternatively (or as well) there are sites that will allow you to get Amazon products at a discount or sometimes free. It’s fair to say that the vendors hope you will review their products, but since a recent change in Amazon’s terms and conditions they are no longer allowed to make this a requirement.

One of the main such sites is Vipon, previously known as Amzreviews. Once you’ve been accepted for this (and most people are) you can browse their marketplace for products to request. Your application must be accepted by the vendor and sometimes you get turned down for unknown reasons. But usually within a day or two you will be approved and receive a voucher letting you order the product concerned at a discount from Amazon. Note that the site is US-based but they accept people from anywhere in the world. Once you are logged in, you can set the site to show products on Amazon UK only.

Clearly this isn’t as good as getting free stuff with Amazon Vine, but it does have the advantage that you get a wider choice. I’ve had great discounts on household products from Vipon/Amzreviews, though you shouldn’t expect to see expensive items such as laptops and televisions offered here.

As I noted above, there is no obligation to review the products you receive on Vipon, though it is at least a courtesy to the vendor to do so. In addition, all such reviews may help you achieve your ultimate ambition of becoming a Vine Voice.

If you have any questions about Amazon Vine reviewing and/or becoming a Vine Voice, please do post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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Make money and help university researchers with Prolific Academic

Make Money and Help University Researchers with Prolific Academic

Today I thought I’d share a sideline-earning opportunity that will give your brain cells a bit of a workout as well 🙂

Prolific Academic is a website that provides a platform for academic researchers across the world to conduct online studies of all types. And the best thing is that participants get paid for taking part.

Anyone is welcome to sign up, and you are then shown studies you are eligible for. They are typically in the fields of business, science, psychology, and social science. Payments range from 40p to £3.50 or more. Obviously, the longer the study, the higher the payment tends to be.

I guess for most people the money will be the chief attraction, but the studies themselves are interesting and varied. One I did recently involved injecting virtual mice with a virtual chemical, and then using a virtual loupe (magnifying glass) to see which ones “expressed a gene” (or more prosaically changed colour). You then had to answer some questions about what conclusions you could draw from each experiment.

Another one I enjoyed involved reading a transcript of an unfair dismissal hearing (I assume an imaginary one). You then had to decide whether the complainant had indeed been unfairly dismissed, based on legal information provided. This one took me back to the long-ago days when I worked for a while in a Citizens Advice Bureau and represented several people at tribunals myself.

Payment is made via the online payment system PayPal, so you will need to set up a PayPal account if you don’t have one already. There is a low withdrawal threshold of just £5, but if you wait till you have earned £20 or more payments are made without the usual deductions for PayPal charges. I recently received my first payment of £20.92, which came through within five days of requesting the money.

Prolific Academic is based in Oxford, England, but as far as I know anyone from anywhere in the world is welcome to join (it is definitely open to US residents). With PayPal, of course, it is easy to change money from UK pounds to US dollars, euro, and so on.

Prolific Academic also rewards members who introduce other members, so if you join and recruit your friends and family as will, you can potentially boost your earnings significantly. As you may have gathered, I am using referral links in this blog post, but am only doing so having proved to my own satisfaction that PA is genuine and they really do pay people for taking part in studies.

Finally, if you are an academic researcher yourself, you can sign up via any link in this post and Prolific will then pay you £25 towards the cost of your first study (so long as you put in at least £50 yourself).



Top Tips for Making the Most of Prolific Academic

Here are a few top tips based on my experiences as a PA participant…

  1. Select and copy your PA identity code at the start of the study. You can then simply paste it into the box at the end, to ensure you get paid.
  2. Watch out for attention-checkers. Many studies include these to ensure that you read the instructions carefully. Typically, the instructions may tell you to answer a question in a certain way and ignore the other options.
  3. Unlike consumer surveys, PA studies do generally require your undivided attention. Doing one while watching TV isn’t the best idea.
  4. Studies fill up quickly, so check on the site regularly throughout the day. Occasionally you will receive an email notifying you of a new study, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
  5. The box at the start tells you how long on average people take to complete a study (and how much this is as an hourly rate). This is important information, as you aren’t allowed to break off in the middle of a study and return to it later.

If you have any questions or comments about Prolific Academic, please do post them below.

Prolific Academic banner

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