With Apple’s focus on health apps, it has become easier to track your physical activity, your nutrition, your sleep cycle, your nutritional intake, and even manage your stress. One aspect that doesn’t draw enough attention is strengthening your mental fitness.
There are many apps to choose from for this purpose. Of the handful of apps that I’ve tried, I have found one to be the most effective and comprehensive – Elevate (https://www.elevateapp.com).
Elevate is a new type of cognitive training tool designed to build communication and analytical skills. Elevate has been selected by Apple as the App of the Year. Since launching in May 2014, Elevate has been downloaded more than 10 million times on the App Store and Google Play2.
(Before I go any further, this review was done using a Pro version of Elevate.)
“Start training your brain.” Elevate measures your performance in listening, writing, speaking, math, and reading. It manages to accomplish this in very entertaining, yet challenging ways, utilising both visual and aural approaches. In the Pro version, there are 40+ games to chose from and as with any exercise regime, you perform daily for optimum results.
As an example, there are four writing games that I find myself constantly returning to. First, one game launches a space shuttle from the pad. You are presented with a word at the top of the screen. Below, you are given two choices. You are to pick the option that best shares the same meaning (occasionally, they toss in ’None of the Above’) before the shuttle crashes back to the ground.
In the second game, you are given a sentence. You are to choose which word(s) are redundant or superfluous. If you should pick the wrong selection, an explanation is provided as to why your choice was incorrect. (As I’m writing this review, I’m finding myself a bit paranoid, proofing this review repeatedly. It’s apparent to me that I need to keep practising.}
My third favourite is to bolster your memory. You are given a passage to read. But it is only presented to you one word at a time in rapid succession, with each word placed in individual cells. At the end of the passage, you are presented with a question derived from the aforementioned passage. There are two possible answers available to you. If you choose the correct one, you move on to the next passage. If not, you are presented with the complete passage with the pertinent information in bold font, pointing out the section that provided the correct answer.
Finally, another game presents you with Russian nesting dolls. Within these dolls are several pictures. When a word appears, you are to click on the picture which best displays that word’s meaning.
To view a game’s instruction, open the game and tap the Pause button in the upper-left corner of the screen. Then tap Game Instructions. To get back to the game, tap the Back button and then the Resume button.
I found these games surprisingly challenging. There is a math game that deals in percentages. If left to my own device, I would correctly answer these. But when they’re presented with time constraints, it surprising how many simple mistakes you can make.
And should you find yourself somewhat overwhelmed by the challenge, you can find inspirational quotes in the Expert Tips exercise, part of the public speaking category on the study page.
The app keeps track of your progress in each category, utilising their Elevate Proficiency Quotient (EPQ). Based on your historical performance, the app provides you with suggestions on how to improve your performance in any chosen discipline where you appear to be having difficulty. (Personally, I am terrible with names. The tip for using mnemonic devices to match the name with the face I have been doing for years but without much success. This app enables me to keep practising and hopefully improve.)
On the bottom of Elevate’s home screen, you’ll find five icons.
The first icon takes you to the button that you push to begin your session.
The second takes you to a screen that keeps track of your progress. There is your EPQ, your Rankings in the community, your Activity measured by time, and Milestones (such as how many days in a row you have trained).
Next is Study. Here you can choose from specific categories that you would especially like to train extra in. Click on one of these and you will be presented with a detailed explanation as to what that category is about and the benefits it provides.
The fourth icon, Notifications, will take you to various ARTICLES were you can read a summary of your weekly activity, how to improve your skills by reviewing recent errors, or to a screen where you can customize your settings, such as how many games you would like to play each session or pick your training goals.
You can choose which games you would like for your daily session, so as to tailor your session to work on your weaknesses or strengthen things that you are already proficient at.
While writing this review, I felt that even though the developer refers to each exercise as a “game,” it belittled the thoroughness of this app and how very professional it is. Read their Effectiveness Study (https://www.elevateapp.com/research) and you’ll appreciate just how seriously the developer takes expanding this extremely productive tool.
Elevate is an iOS app that requires iOS 9.0 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Watch. There are numerous subscription models from Monthly to Lifetime to choose from.
To get a feel for the app there are videos available on site.
The free version limits you to three games daily, selected from a limited number of exercises. A Pro subscription increases that number to five. Plus there are 40+ games to choose from, 17 which can only be accessed by obtaining a subscription (with additional Pro games added regularly). You also receive “regular deliveries of premium learning material and access to Pro-only study tools to deepen your skills.”
Any Pro version is an in-app purchase. Merely launch the app, tap “Explore Pro” in the top right corner of the screen, then tap the button at the bottom of the screen to unlock “Pro.”
I cannot express enough how impressive this app is. You really owe it to yourself to download a copy. Although I found the Pro version to be worthy of the subscription, even if you only used the free version, you’ll find this app to be indispensable to improving your mental agility. (But you’ll inevitably go for the Pro version.)
©2017 Frank Petrie