Ed-tech platforms turn coaches for competitive exams

Annapurani V | Updated on May 22, 2020

Guide students, hampered by Covid lockdown, to prepare through a variety of services

As the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 continues, it has hampered the preparations of students and job aspirants for competitive exams due to their inability to join or study at coaching centres. Enter ed-tech start-ups that focus on exam preparation and provide students with a variety of services, ranging from mock tests to video lessons to live coaching, besides mentors to counsel and guide them.

Mohammed Hisamuddin, founder of Entri, an exam-preparation platform that provides learning content in vernacular languages for PSC (Public Service Commission), banking and government exams, among others, said that most new students who had enrolled on their platform were those who were attending private coaching/tuition centres and are unable to do so now, because of the lockdown. The platform has seen a 100 per cent spike in new users, Hisamuddin noted. He added that they have made sure all the videos they produce on their app now provide a classroom environment for their users.

Minal Anand, founder of GuruQ, an ed-tech platform that connects students with tutors and offers them help on a one-on-one basis, said they have seen demand surge by over 200 per cent since the lockdown. Besides students from the metros, those from tier-II and tier-III cities are also moving towards online coaching, Anand added.

“We’ve seen a 20-25 per cent increase in student enrolment, especially in JEE and NEET. The increase in engagement numbers is even higher,” said Vibhu Bhushan, co-founder of Gradeup, another exam-preparation platform. He added that they have also seen a 35 per cent growth in their new user registrations in the last two months.

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Coping with the surge

With more students shifting to e-learning to make up for the lost time, these ed-tech start-ups are incorporating new features to cope with the surge and to also help students utilise the platform better.

Kush Beejal, founder of NeoStencil, an online coaching hub that connects institutes with students and provides live coaching for government and competitive exams through its platform, said that until the end of March, they had partnered with only 50 coaching institutes. But in the last one-and-a-half months, they are in the process of tying up with 50 more institutes in India and are aiming to on-board over 150 institutes in the next 6-9 months.

Beejal also said that to help students prepare better, they are working on adding a layer of analytics behind their individual learning behaviour and plan to use artificial intelligence to be more interactive with the students.

BasicFirst, a doubt-clearing platform, recently launched a new version of its app to aid students in their preparation further, wherein the average response time for all queries is a mere 32 minutes via in-app chats. The platform enables students get their doubts cleared through its app from 8 am to 11 pm from teachers with experience of at least three years or more. Students are given individual attention and their progress is monitored, said Randhir Kumar, its founder.

E-learning hiccups

Students using these platforms for the first time are finding it difficult to navigate through the different features they offer. These platforms are hence going the extra mile to assist them with new on-boarding features and have a dedicated team to provide them with extra support in case of glitches.

One challenge that users are facing while learning through ed-tech platforms is staying focussed, said Gradeup’s Bhushan. “In offline coaching, as students physically sit in the class and can’t do anything else, the chances of getting distracted are less,” he added. To tackle this Bhushan said that they have introduced features such as day-wise study plans to make sure students finish their syllabus well within time, live report cards to assess progress, etc.

Entri’s Hisamuddin said that apart from not being able to attend the coaching institutes, students are also missing their friends. He added that they are now introducing features on the app that will make it easy for their users to collaborate with their friends.

Published on May 18, 2020

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