Education App Review: B+ for Mathway

Education App Review: B+ for Mathway

Peter on June 3, 2015

Magoosh wants to make sure you have what you need to be successful.  To ensure that you’ve got all the right tools (read: apps) in your toolbelt (read: phone), we scour the app stores finding and rating education apps.

Last time we reviewed StudyBlue (an app for storing and accessing class notes, flashcards, and lectures), but today we turn our attention to Mathway!

71Foqnu3ZuL

Mathway is a tool that takes the guesswork out of solving math problems.  Mathway can solve equations, simplify expressions, and evaluate limits.  It can do everything from reduce a fraction to integrate a function.  It’s a powerful app that can help you get answers on math problems from pre-algebra to college calculus.  So how did it fare in our review?  Let’s find out!

Usability: A

This app has a lot of features, and is easy and intuitive to use.  The Mathway app can do as much as most graphing calculators, all on your phone.  It’s stable and fast, and makes finding answers to your math problems super quick.  You can even save problems for later if you’re doing work on the go and want to save the problems for later.

Design: B+

Mathway is very well-designed.  Everything works just as you think it would — no small feat for something with no buttons!  It’s only downfall: it isn’t pretty.  Only you can decide if this really matters, but when solving a problem I’d prefer something that works well to something that looks nice.

Effectiveness: B-

So this is where Mathway falters — not because of what it does or how it works, but what it signifies.  Mathway can solve all of your math problems for you.  It can show you how to do it step by step.  It can make sure that all your problem sets are done, and done correctly.  But it can’t teach.

Now, that’s not to say that you can’t use Mathway to learn math effectively.  You can use this app to check your work or to give you the blueprint for how to solve future problems.  But if you just plug every question into your app and copy down the answers, you aren’t going to learn anything.  You should be learning how to do these things without Mathway so that you can apply them at a higher level.  This app is powerful, but beware.  You don’t want to become addicted.

Addictiveness: B

Didn’t I just say “don’t become addicted?!”  OK, so this app isn’t addictive to use in the sense that it is fun or compelling.  You’re never going to say “Oh, let me go back to Mathway to see how my equations are doing.”  It’s not a Tamagotchi.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 4.04.21 PM

What makes it addictive is how useful it is.  The right answer (with explanations, if you pay for them) to nearly every math problem in your textbook.  Now that’s something to get addicted to!

But this is where it’s addictiveness can be dangerous — imagine you use Mathway to get A’s on every homework assignment, but come test time you have no idea what you’re doing.  It would be easy to use this app to get all the answers to your homework and move on, but that would be a mistake.  Mathway can be a great tool, but it shouldn’t be your first tool in solving a problem.

Ad Distraction: B+

Mathway manages to be very useful, even if you don’t pay anything.  Mathway gives you the answers to all your problems, but if you want to see the step by step explanation then you need to pay! A subscription costs $19.99 a month, or $99.99 a year.  See the images below for what the solutions look like without a subscription.

IMG_4256

IMG_4259

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re using Mathway to check your answers or to get quick solutions, then the free version is great.  If you need more step-by-step help, then you’ll probably need a subscription.

Motivation: B+

There is nothing in the Mathway App that is specifically motivating.  And it’s possible that using it and becoming dependent on it could be extremely demotivating.  But, if you’re the type of person who is prone to making small mistakes, this app could be a lifesaver.  You can go about all the right steps, but forget to carry the 1, and wind up with the wrong answer.  Using Mathway to check your work, you would catch that — hopefully helping you get better marks on your homework and teaching you which mistakes you’re most prone to.  But again, beware: too much of a good thing can be a problem!

Support: B

Mathway doesn’t provide tutors or a help center.  It doesn’t really have any support to speak of.  But I don’t know that it needs it — you’re paying for a answers and steps, not a math tutor.  The app works well, so customer support isn’t going to be necessary.  Still, this does highlight an important point: don’t download this app thinking you’re going to learn math from it.  There’s no one on the other end to the line to teach you.  Download it thinking you can learn math with it.

Overall GPA: 3.2
Overall Grade: B+