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Provo business helps learners crush it on major exams

By Karissa Neely daily Herald - | Aug 25, 2017
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Adam Balinski, founder of Crushendo, demonstrates studying with “audio flashcards” while doing batting practice.

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Adam Balinski, founder of Crushendo, demonstrates studying with "audio flashcards" while doing batting practice.

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Adam Balinski, founder of Crushendo, demonstrates studying with “audio flashcards” while doing batting practice.

What if you could study for the bar exam, the GRE or the GMAT while putting your way through nine holes of golf?

Adam Balinski crushed the Uniform Bar Exam to be an attorney by doing just this. Of course, he actually added batting practice and hiking to his cramming sessions.

“I don’t like staring at books, so I got the idea to take notes, record them, and listen to them over and over to memorize them, while I was doing other things,” he said.

It worked so well, Balinski knew he was on to something. He researched for other audio study programs online, but wasn’t happy with what he found — the audio files were hours long and had poor reviews from users.

So after more than a year researching memorization techniques, Balinski launched his new Provo business, Crushendo, this year. His goal is to bring “audio flashcards” techniques to the masses. With three- to four-minute digestible segments full of mnemonic memorization tools set to classical music, Crushendo’s audio products help users study for important exams anywhere, anytime.

“We’ve got visual study aids galore,” Balinski said. “But to me it doesn’t seem like anyone’s gone through the process to elevate audio studying. This is cutting-edge territory because these tools exist, but figuring out where and when to use them and why takes a lot of research.”

Currently Crushendo only offers its first product, CrammerTones for the MPRE, or Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination — the ethics part of the bar exam — but Balinski’s been excited about the feedback he is getting from early users. The audio files are so densely filled with information that it’s a lot to take in for a first-time user, but many users say the more they use them, the more they like them.

“Lawyers are a hard group to win over, but if you can, you can win over anyone,” he said.

Balinski plans to expand the CrammerTones line as quickly as possible. The next step is a CrammerTones for Uniform Bar Exam subject areas, ready in time for the July 2018 test administration. He plans to run a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for this next step, because the bar exam is much larger in scope than the MPRE. He also hopes to bring on others to help with content and subject matter and voiceover work.

“Right now, it’s just one person — me — doing it. Without other’s input, mistakes can be made,” Balinski said. But he doesn’t plan to stay a one-man band for long. “My vision is really big. I’m just getting started.”

Balinski works part time as a lawyer to pay the bills, but his heart is in Crushendo. Once he has funding and a solid team of experts in place, he plans to add the GRE, GMAT, MCAT, Praxis, SAT and ACT exams to his product line, so others can benefit from audio studying.

“I aim to cover all standardized exams and eventually every feasible college and high school course, as well as some kid stuff that I’m experimenting with,” Balinski said.

He knows this type of learning isn’t for everyone. Some people just need to sit down and concentrate only on studying for a test. But he also doesn’t believe everyone only learns one way — and the more senses involved in their learning, the better.

“It is more catered to eclectic learning,” he said. “I’m not out to please everyone, but I’ll make certain people extremely happy.”


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