Elevate - Brain Training

Engaging games hone skills, offer limited long-term learning potential

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Expert evaluation by Common Sense

Grades

9–12

Subjects & Skills

Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, English Language Arts

Price: Free to try
Platforms: Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Pros: Challenging games and appealing style make games feel like meaningful educational engagement.

Cons: Games require significant prior knowledge of grammar and usage without helpful guidance or feedback.

Bottom Line: Although useful for engaging student skills practice, games are less successful at teaching skills.

English teachers might encourage students to use Elevate to hone vocabulary skills in games that test word connotation, and they might encourage older students to drill their middle school math facts and number sense with some of the math games. Teachers might also have students use Elevate as a daily warm-up to grow listening, reading, speaking, writing, and core math skills. Keep in mind that users can't control which three games will be available each day, and some activities might be better connected to classroom activities than others.

Elevate is a "brain-training" app with games that help users hone skills in writing, listening, speaking, reading, and math. The free version offers access to three games a day. With names such as "Brevity" and "Syntax" in the writing section and "Measuring" and "Estimation" in the math section, games are designed to help build core skills across a range of key subjects. There's a range of game formats, from sentence completion to matching to dragging and dropping on a number line. At the end of each game, users receive a performance score across the four language skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading) or the math skills accordingly.

According to the developers, the app becomes increasingly tuned to a user’s capabilities and provides daily exercises based on the user's strengths and needs. Users can upgrade to Elevate Pro ($7.99/month; $44.99/year; $149.99/lifetime) for unlimited access to the more than 30 games.

Elevate is built to hone skills such as focus, processing, and concentration across a range of ELA and math tasks. The diversity of subjects is admirable, and there's some cool content: Playing a game to learn to remember people's names isn't a bad real-world skill to develop. However, not all tasks are as challenging as others; a lot of tasks focus more on quick thinking than on content knowledge. Each game focuses on lightning-fast decision-making. While that's a great goal, developers have assumed a very high level of prior knowledge and haven’t provided much support for users to develop that knowledge. Limited feedback is available to help users get a missed question right the next time it appears. The developers have added an un-timed study mode, which is a helpful way to play the games and get more practice on the tasks.

Questions that test users' knowledge of English grammar assume a high level of English fluency but offer no opportunity to revisit or review grammar rules or the extensive vocabulary in the app. A built-in glossary or grammar lessons would offer better support on the language tests, as would some primers on estimation and number sense in the math sections. Overall, this is a slick, fun way to hone your skills, but it might really work best for adults who are fluent in English and already have a pretty advanced grasp of a lot of information. 

Learning Rating

Overall Rating
Engagement

Each day's games are great fun. Whether it's popping balloons or building a tower by picking correct words, games are entertaining to play again and again.

Pedagogy

Some games seem a little superficial, and there's an assumed high level of prior knowledge and no instruction for vocabulary or grammar rules. Still, you can hone some skills and get good feedback.

Support

Interface is straightforward and easy to navigate, and the settings menu offers good customization options. Unfortunately, most of the iOS accessibility features are not available in the games.

Common Sense reviewer

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Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Unclear whether profile information must be shared for social interactions.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Unclear whether users retain ownership of their data.
  • Unclear whether this product provides processes to access and review user data.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Unclear whether this product displays personalised advertising.

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