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Introduction

Are you looking for a way to build your skills in mathematics and science? If so, this Brilliant.org review will tell you all that you need to know about this unique online community, which, as you might expect, offers courses in math and science.

While the course content on Brilliant.org might not be the right fit for every student, there are plenty of students who fall into the target audience – and may find this online learning platform to be worth every penny.

In this review of Brilliant.org, we’ll give you all the information you need to determine whether you might fall into that niche, from the Brilliant.org cost to all the unique options for learning (including the one-of-a-kind Brilliant.org app!). 

What is Brilliant.org?

Brilliant.org is an online learning platform providing courses in subjects like math and science, among other things, to talented students looking to enrich their minds.

The platform was founded in 2008 with the goal of creating an online community to help bright students fortify their academic prowess. Although it’s lacking a bit on the humanities side of things in terms of course content, Brilliant.org is a great online education option for students seeking to build their skills in STEM disciplines

They offer a subscription-based service and a free trial that gives you access to their online education. Further along into our review of Brilliant.org, we will dive into their course content and what every user can expect from the platform. 

Who is Brilliant.org For?

Something Brilliant.org does well is to modify its course content to suit a target audience, whatever that may be. While the website claimed the online courses are made for anyone –  people “aged 10 to 110”  – to help them sharpen their minds, it is best suited for students working through primary or high school. 

There are some advanced courses covering topics like engineering and computer science. However, this kind of content does not have the focus you would see in a college-level course and it often leaves out much of the high-end concepts. 

School-age children on the lower end of skill levels may also struggle with the content as there is more of a focus on practice than there is the actual theory of the subjects. Because of this, it is best you have a grasp on the topics before you get into them, it is more suited to sharpen your skills than develop them.

How Does Brilliant.org Work?

Brilliant.org can be used via the website or the Brilliant.org app. Once you pick which platform to use, you can begin browsing their course catalog to see what you might be interested in. 

To get access to the content, you must make an account. At this point, it will ask you to start a free trial to test drive the product. But you may continue with a free account for now if you do not wish to do that. 

The site will ask you what kind of student you are and what topics you might be interested in. This allows the platform to tailor its experience to fit your needs and not show you topics that would be of no benefit (or interest) to you. 

You will then be supplied with courses that their algorithms determine will be useful for you and you can begin the class. You will work through different problems to practice your skills and learn some theory on your chosen topic. 

The problems are designed to challenge your abilities in the subject matter and gain a greater understanding of the task at hand. This is one of the reasons that Brilliant.org is not recommended for struggling students. The platform is built to provide driven students a further stepping stone in their educational journeys. 

Features and Functionality

If you’re considering using Brilliant.org for your online learning needs, these are some of the top features that might interest you. 

Daily Problems

The inclusion of daily problems is a great way to keep students motivated and coming back to the platform. They can help develop a habit out of learning every day that can be kept up throughout life. In addition, the daily problems may serve as a warm-up to kick start your day and get you thinking about their upcoming curriculum. 

The issue with these daily problems is that they are not curated based on the courses that you are currently taking. They are circulated at random and might not even be in the skillset of the individual if they haven’t had instruction on the topic yet. 

Active Community

Brilliant.org has a fairly large community that their students have the opportunity to take advantage of. This includes a page that is used to post problems with content, if the topic is not explained enough for the student it is best to post it there to receive a swift answer. 

There is also a Wiki page section. These pages are often written by users and then selected by Brilliant.org staff to be displayed in the respective tab. This allows students to receive a different voice to learn from, making them understand a topic more clearly. A nice idea is to have bright students write and submit these wiki pages as a form of extra credit. 

The community page is also where you would find the solutions tab, which shows other students’ answers to questions to see a different way of thinking to achieve the same result. The diversity of thought on the Brilliant.org platform is robust. 

STEM Courses

Brilliant.org is focused on STEM topics which, thankfully, are in pretty high demand these days, both in the education arena and by employers.

These courses are broken up into three main categories which we will list here with an overview of what the topics have in store. Brilliant.org has over 60 courses to choose from so we’ll just hit the highlights. 

Math

The math section is both the most diverse and the deepest diving category that Brilliant.org offers. They supply courses ranging from basic algebra practice to advanced calculus subjects like multivariable and vector. 

Mathematics is also provided with a large practice problem section to ensure proper understanding of most of the subjects they offer. The most popular math course at the time of writing is Mathematical Fundamentals.

Science

The science section is equally diverse to math but it doesn’t quite take the same deep dive into topics that math does. This section is almost a scattershot of different topics. It appears that it was designed as a good starting point to get your feet wet into the ideas featured. 

They have courses on things such as quantum computing and solar energy, down to the fundamentals like scientific thinking and science essentials. It appears that what is most popular are the foundational courses. 

Computer Science

Computer science is by far the least robust of the three categories on Brilliant.org, with only 10 courses on subjects like computer science fundamentals up to actual programming with Python. 

While there are not that many courses, Computer Science had 2 of the 4 most popular courses last month on Brilliant.org, so it’s easy to assume that these courses are at least of high quality (though scarce in number). 

Brilliant.org Pricing Model

A lot of Brilliant.org’s features can be accessed for free. However, some features require a monthly, or yearly, subscription. Some courses will be locked unless you have one of these subscriptions but the site does a pretty poor job of explaining which these would be. It’s unclear which features are paid and which require a premium membership without doing a little bit of digging. 

For example, in the comparison section, science courses are said to be locked behind premium. That’s not true. With a free account, some of them can actually be accessed. We know this because we tested it while writing this review!

If you do wish to upgrade your experience the Premium Brilliant.org cost is going to be $149.85 per year, which works out to about $12.49 a month. They do offer a free trial to test and see whether or not the premium experience is going to be worth it for you. 

Support

Most of the support you will need for Brilliant.org is going to come from its community. The platform has a large database of already answered questions for you to use if you get stuck. As well as the wiki pages that were designed around their content. If you have any questions that nobody has asked before then you can post them here and more than likely get a swift response. 

In terms of learning support in their Premium membership, they have some guided courses. A lot of students benefit more from guided instruction so this is a useful feature for the platform to include. 

If you are having issues with the membership or platform itself, they have an extensive help section available to you. They have a large FAQ portion and it is full of already answered questions. If your question hasn’t been answered yet then there is an email to contact them directly. 

The Advantages (Pros) of Brilliant.org

Here are some of the biggest advantages to choosing Brilliant.org for your online learning needs. 

Game-Like Lessons

The lessons in the courses are very visual-based and end up feeling a lot more like games than actual lessons. This is good for keeping the attention of the students and preventing them from getting bored of topics. These games are also tailored for the content so it doesn’t feel as if they are re-hashed versions of the same game that aren’t meant to be used for all of the content. 

There are also additional games like chess and one on Infinitesimal Paradoxes. Brilliant.org does a fantastic job of making the learning experience fun without losing out on the actual education that students are there to receive. 

Expansive Practice

Outside of the lessons themselves, Brilliant.org has a large catalog of practice in every one of the topics that they offer. Each of the main course topics that they offer has an entire page dedicated to additional practice to supplement their course content. 

This is an excellent resource for students who need to brush up on their skills before a big test. Or if a student is fuzzy on a particular subject within a larger topic they can go to this page and pinpoint exactly which skill it is that’s holding them back. 

The practice section alone is one of the most expansive and robust on the site. And might be worth looking into Brilliant.org just for this feature alone as it is entirely free to use without a subscription. 

Fits Many Skill Levels

Brilliant.org does a lot of things right, but the thing they do best is marketing their product to every skill level of the student. This doesn’t necessarily mean a professional is going to get the same out of this product as a beginner would, but they do their best to ensure it. 

There is at least something on this site for everyone  – provided that you are interested in math and science. However, Brilliant.org does need to add more professional-level courses if they wish to be competitive and attract more advanced learners. 

Learning Paths

Curated content is one of the most important things that an online learning platform can provide for its students. Learning paths at Brilliant.org are a very good example of that. These can help keep students focused on an overarching goal without distracting them from the task at hand. 

Learning paths are simply courses that are grouped and placed in a specific order that allows students to progress from simple subjects to more difficult ones. All of these subjects will be about similar things and the intention is to end up with a high-level understanding of the broader topic upon completion. 

This can be a good way to get students interested in a more advanced topic without overwhelming them with a ton of information that otherwise would not make any sense to them.

The Disadvantages (Cons) of Brilliant.org

When deciding if Brilliant.org is right for you, you may want to consider these disadvantages to using the platform. 

Poor Variety of Advanced Topics

While Brilliant.org has a large number of courses, and their variety of topics in the STEM field is impressive, there are no courses outside of these subjects. Nothing on the site is going to be focused on reading comprehension or language arts. 

If Brilliant.org wishes to grow in popularity amongst school-aged students, then they need to begin offering courses that are more than just math and science-based. 

Even if Brilliant.org has no intention of straying from STEM courses, they at least need to diversify their portfolio to include partnerships with colleges and employers. This way students will have an end goal if they wish to work in these fields. This type of improvement would do wonders for the platform.

Expensive

Though much of the site is completely free to use some of it is locked behind the Premium subscription. And the cost for that subscription is a lot for what you get with Brilliant.org. There are some online learning platforms out there that offer the same content for free. 

Brilliant.org Alternatives

Not sure if Brilliant.org is right for you? Here are some of the platform’s leading competitors

Khan Academy

The platform most similar to Brilliant.org is Khan Academy. They offer many of the same kinds of courses for school-aged students. Both platforms have their curriculum broken up into different skill levels, Khan goes so far as to label it based on what grade the student would be in. 

Khan does offer more courses than Brilliant does, and by a lot too. There are courses in STEM subjects like Brilliant offers but they go farther to include reading and language arts as well. 

They also include history and life skills classes, essentially anything that you might learn in school even in an elective Khan has for you.

Khan also has a fantastic section on SAT prep courses. This site is designed to be a one-stop shop for everything you need to get yourself through high school  – and a good portion of college prep as well. 

If your only goal is to prep for school and gains a solid understanding of subjects, then Khan is going to be a better option for you. Another massive bonus to Khan is that they are completely free with no paid option and operate as a non-profit company. 

EDpuzzle

A good alternative for the aspiring educators out there is EDpuzzle. This is a platform that allows teachers to modify online videos to suit their classes’ needs. The platform is entirely web-based so no other software is necessary besides your browser. 

EDpuzzle offers 3 different plans for its users: Basic, which is completely free, Pro-Teacher, which comes with unlimited storage space and costs $11.50 per month, and a bundled plan for school districts (the pricing on this varies and requires an individualized quote).

This could be a good option for teachers looking to keep students engaged in lessons through extra tools and quizzes. The editor is easy to use as well for those without experience. 

FreeCodeCamp

Because Brilliant.org offers some computer science courses, a good alternative may be FreeCodeCamp. They are a nonprofit organization whose goal is to teach everyone to code. They offer a wide variety of courses for you to explore and of course, they are completely free. 

This is also a good option for those that wish to make a career in computer science, as the platform helps you build a portfolio and gain experience while working with other non-profits.

Students looking to enjoy computer science would do well to look at FreeCodeCamp as a starting place in their journey as well. 

Conclusion

Brilliant.org is a niche online learning platform. It is not going to fit everyone’s needs and it is likely going to be more suitable for school-aged children than for anyone else. That is not a bad thing, as it is seemingly what the platform was designed for in the first place. 

However, including subjects like computer science and programming lead people to believe the site is going to offer some form of help to those at the professional level as well. And this might be true if you are either completely new to computer science and want some foundation, or are a professional and need somewhere to practice your skills. 

That’s basically what Brilliant.org is, a practice site. And they do it very well too, there are hundreds of practice problems for students to learn to hone their skills. The practice is very game-like and doesn’t feel like studying at all, which is very important for this process. 

The cost of Brilliant.org Premium is sort of hard to justify given what is on their free side already. The free plan is likely going to be enough for most people and their busy schedules. In addition, a lot of this information is already available for free on sites like Khan Academy. So what you pay for is the type of practice that they offer, which is a good way to practice.

If you are a school-aged student, parent, or educator Brilliant.org is likely going to be a great benefit to you or your student. But don’t expect this platform to give everything the student needs. Brilliant.org is best used as a supplement to additional academic progress. 

FAQ

Is Brilliant.org worth it?

Whether Brilliant.org is worth it for you or not is going to be up to the individual. That said, this platform certainly is not going to be for everyone and people that are versed in other online education platforms may not find what they are looking for here. 

If you are going through high school, or are a parent of a student, or even a teacher then Brilliant.org might be a good fit for you. They have a lot of resources for these types of students to take advantage of. 

Professionals looking to bolster their resumes are very unlikely to find a good reason to use Brilliant.org. There simply is not enough practice material for actual job usage. And there is no good way to build your portfolio if you are looking for a computer science job.

The free side of Brilliant.org is probably enough for most school-aged students. Given their busy schedules and oftentimes lack of focus, more than that could become stressful to keep up with. Premium Brilliant.org would have to fill your needs precisely to justify the cost. 

How much does Brilliant.org cost?

A large portion of Brilliant.org is free to use for anyone who simply creates an account, although they do a pretty poor job telling you that when you make your account. You’ll be prompted to sign up for a free trial, which requires a credit card, immediately upon account creation. 

If you sign up for Brilliant.org’s premium features then it will cost you $149.85 per year, which works out to about $12.49 a month. This gives you access to some offline features in their mobile app and extra courses. Some of those courses are guided for students that thrive under that kind of teaching, as opposed to a more independent study tactic. 

Is Brilliant.org free for students?

Yes and no, the free side of Brilliant.org of course is free for students as it is free for everyone. But you won’t get a free Premium subscription simply for being a student. Educators though do have some options here.

Brilliant.org allows educators to apply for an educator account which gives access to a ton of new features that the platform has rolled out this year. A lot of these were designed with remote learning in mind. 

All of this is completely free and allows access to some of Brilliant.org’s premium content at no cost to the educator. This program is in early access at the moment, however, and there is no set date for a full release on their website yet. 

Is Brilliant.org accredited?

No, nothing on their website would indicate that Brilliant.org is accredited. They also don’t give out any certifications perse either. 

Some of the online courses have quizzes that you can pass and earn a certificate you can display on your profile. That likely is not going to hold any credibility with colleges or future employers. It is simply a badge that can be displayed on the platform for students to mark their progress with.

Even some of the online courses that you would consider college level do not seem to hold any weight in the academic circles. This doesn’t mean that they offer poor quality content or are lacking any information, but it won’t score you any points on an application either.  

Is Brilliant.org good for beginners?

Yes, Brilliant.org is excellent for beginners. The platform does a very nice job tailoring your experience to suit your needs based on just a few initial questions. Regardless of what your skill level is through high school and some professional use, Brilliant.org will find a way to curate the courses they show you.

However, there is not a lot of handholding with the courses, either. The platform is specifically made, as the name implies, for students that are ahead of the curve and need a challenge. Best to be used to introduce new topics of understood subjects to bright students rather than try and teach a brand new skill to a struggling student. 

Can I get a job with Brilliant.org?

This is a difficult question to answer because your background plays such a big part in the hiring process. If you are already a professional in the field or already have a degree and you use Brilliant.org to sharpen up before an interview then maybe you can attribute your success to them.

If you have no experience in something like computer science and only rely on Brilliant.org’s courses, you will have a hard time finding work. This is partially because that is not what the platform is designed to do. In addition, there is no opportunity to create projects to show in your portfolio either which is a major part of that field’s hiring process. 

Of course, you can always feel free to list the experience you gained on Brilliant.org on your resume. You never know what a prospective employer might be looking for!

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Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce is a writer with a B.A. in English from St. Lawrence University and a Master’s in Special Education from SUNY Plattsburgh. She has worked both as a college admissions counselor as well as a high school English teacher and has also written extensively on topics related to educational technology and the college selection process.

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