I love The Economist. I really do. It's my favorite magazine - just the best source of comprehensive world news. In fact, I recommend that my students read it to build their reading comprehension and vocabulary for the GRE. But although its brand carries major weight with me, I was sorry to see that The Economist's GRE app was just another run-of-the-mill GRE prep product. Here's a quick review for you.
When reviewing the Economist GRE app, I found the biggest problem was with practice question / test question realism. Like the material written by most GRE prep companies, The Economist GRE app questions were generally simpler and more straightforward than real questions. While the questions are not exactly a waste of your time, they are certainly not a good use of it.
Instead, you should be practicing with real ETS questions, which are more challenging and more complex - that is, if you want to be prepared for the real GRE, which (obviously) has questions exactly like the ones in the ETS books and computer tests.
I found the app's map interface to be annoying. Rather than letting me skip to the sections I wanted to learn about, the map forced me to complete prerequisite sections. Slogging through these sections reminded me of work training modules that had to be completed every year when I worked for certain mind-numbing corporations. This is particularly unhelpful if you know you have an issue with a certain question type. You can't just navigate to it; you have to complete the pre-reqs first.
I didn't try out the app's "live support" feature. That could be valuable for students who need help with math concepts. Maybe the tutors would even let you ask them questions from the ETS books. But sessions have to be scheduled for 45 minutes, and you can't schedule them unless you've gone through the aforementioned "map" area for that topic first.
I am willing to bet that The Economist developed this GRE app in conjunction with The Princeton Review - the content and advice looks very, very similar. I'm guessing that Princeton Review offers to build apps for companies, who then can brand the apps as their own. Unfortunately, The Princeton Review's material is not that great, especially for people aiming for above-average scores. I am disappointed that a brand as well-regarded as The Economist's would create something this mediocre.
I can picture a meeting at The Economist with someone saying, "how can we further monetize our brand? How about putting our brand on test prep apps?" Ironically, this kind of monetization sometimes weakens brands, since the brand is putting its name on something not in its field of expertise - in this case, GRE prep. There probably aren't too many people at The Economist who know a good GRE prep product from a bad one - they're journalists, not test-prep tutors. This was a misstep, guys.
My Economist GRE review verdict: I would recommend staying away from the Economist GRE app, since there are many better products on the market. But don't take my word for it - I invite you to compare the Economist app to products like Manhattan GRE and Magoosh GRE (here's my Magoosh GRE review) - and to my GRE course.
Remember, no matter how pretty a GRE app looks, and how well-respected the company associated with it, there's no substitute for genuine ETS questions, which can only be found in the ETS books and practice test software.