• Rose Smith

Brilliant Premium: Worth the Price or Worth the Skip?

Photo Source: Aaron Ma

Even after graduating college, I still have a love of learning. One of my favorite things to do is buy bundles of ebooks about math and computer science and work through the exercises to keep myself sharp. I’ve always been afraid of losing that edge and only ever remembering what I would need to do for work. I had heard about Brilliant from one of the Youtubers I watch. If you like to listen to any computer science or media analysis channel, you probably have seen an advertisement for Brilliant, but if you haven’t, Brilliant bills itself as a subscription service where you can build up your skills in plenty of STEM subjects such as computer science, math, and physics. Curious, I decided to get myself an annual subscription (which came at a discount because I used a code) to see what it was about.

The format of Brilliant’s courses can be divided into two similar categories: problem-focused courses and intuition-based courses. Each course is developed into chapters and subchapters. For instance, the probability course has an introduction, a chapter on dice-rolling probability, and one about expected value. Each subchapter has a set of problems you need to solve to continue. Now, problem-focused courses only have a blurb or two before they start just throwing you into problems. Sometimes, they give a more simple problem and then slowly get more complicated. The intuition-based courses have instructions throughout, including interactive diagrams and animations to build up a more advanced understanding of the concepts. For instance, in the Intro to Calculus course, there is an interactive graph that lets you play around with a graph to help you understand what a derivative means. I can’t help but wonder if Brilliant is working towards making the courses more in the “intuition-based” category, and the more “problem-based” courses were how they all used to be.

When it comes to demographics, I would say that Brilliant has something for everyone from high school and above. Whether you’re a high school or university student trying to get better in calculus or statistics or someone who has graduated and wants to keep their skills up, there’s certainly a subject for you. While a college student might not need an intro to pre-algebra, I certainly would have really appreciated their course on analysis and calculus. One thing that I do appreciate is that they provide learning paths.

While Brilliant does have some great points to its courses, it certainly isn’t perfect. For instance, I wish that there were sometimes more problems or ways to go back and see what you did wrong. For instance, in a course, if you get something wrong, you can take a look at the explanation, but if you get every problem wrong in the subchapter, the course still waves you through. This feels kind of wrong. In a learning program like Duolingo, you at least have to do the problem over to pass on to the next lesson, so there were some subchapters where I just felt like I didn’t learn all that much. I also wish there was some kind of certificate or progress bar that you could see on your course page. I finished the logic course for instance, and it still said that I was almost done with the course. There is no way to track what courses you've already finished without keeping track of that yourself, which is a weird oversight for any kind of internet service. It's like if Netflix stopped telling you where you left off on your show.

I was able to get my annual subscription at a discount, so it only cost me about $120 per year. That’s around $10 per month, which is about the cost of a Spotify subscription. For people who did not get a discount, an annual plan is approximately $12.50 per month. For me, since I do use it frequently, I think that price feels pretty fair for what it is, but I don’t think I would have gone through with the purchase if I didn’t get a discount.

Overall, I think that Brilliant is a good service, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. I think if you are trying to get better in math for a class or you know that you’re going to use the service frequently, then I would say getting it for a year is worth it. Some of the college mathematics courses are great because you never see such resources. If you struggle with something like Calculus III or Real Analysis, sometimes Youtube just doesn’t cut it. However, I think there are certainly parts of Brilliant that need to be improved such as the better accountability and progress bars. In the quest to get better at math and computer science, Brilliant has certainly been helpful for me, but certainly you may have a different experience with it. I would recommend getting the 7 day free trial, and if you’ve already dropped it by the 5th or 6th day, I’d recommend dropping it. However, if you find that you are improving and are enjoying the courses, then definitely keep up with it. I’ve been enjoying myself so far, and have found myself already improving.

If you are interested in checking our Brilliant on your own, you can find it here.

Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.

You can find her on Instagram here and on Twitter here.