30 Oct 2015 20:26 IST

The CAT’s out of the class…

…and in the mobile, with apps slowly complementing and, at times, taking over classrooms

When a college student is supposed to prepare for an MBA entrance, but can’t seem to get his eyes off his phone, don’t dismiss him with: “Oh, today’s generation just can’t get enough of their phone!” Chances are, he might very well be preparing for the exam — on his smartphone!

Thanks to online test preparation platforms, MBA aspirants don’t need to be chained to a desk and a book to crack B-school entrance exams. They now have access to a lot of reading material, coaching videos and tests, as well as personalised feedback, all on their mobiles.

Study anywhere

The advantages of using online study tools are many. Imagine if you’re in a town with no access to coaching classes for CAT; then online classes are the only option you have left.

“Working professionals in cities that have coaching classes also prefer to study online to save on travel time,” says Ravi Handa, of Handaka Funda, a test coaching service. The institution has seen an increase in the number of students enrolling for online courses — from a mere 30 per cent students opting to study online in 2013, the number has increased to about 90 per cent now.

Many also use online learning to supplement their offline studies. If there are any doubts in what they were taught, they can catch up using the material and videos online.

“Apps are favoured as they can be downloaded on smartphones and are easily accessible whenever the students want to study,” says Satya Narayanan, Founder and Chairman, CL Educate, which runs Career Launcher.

Students can also share notes with others staying miles apart. Tutors, too, are able to custom-build their notes according to the subject and student group. Many of the apps, such as SuperProfs, also play videos offline. “So you can continue studying on the go, even when you have no access to the Internet,” says Piyush Agrawal, Founder and CEO of SuperProfs.

Individual progress

But the main advantage of mobile learning is the ability to instantly check your progress and remedy shortcomings. For instance, CL Educate’s apps let students download and solve a paper, check answers and see the correct method of solving the problem instantly.

Even more attractive are the online tests that are available. Providers such as Cracku offer mock tests and daily tests that are graded and the student’s score is put up against those of others who took the test.

Test-takers can also figure out how much time they’re spending on a problem, compared with the average time taken by others. With analytics capability built-in, students can also see what percentage of students got an answer wrong, and other such relative data.

These can help the candidates assess themselves against competition, says Maruti Konduri, co-founder of Cracku. They can then work on the areas they tested weak in.

Adapting testing

Providers such as Toppr are taking personalisation a step further by using an adaptive algorithm to create customised tests, based on the understanding level of the individual. Students are initially given a small set of questions of a particular level of difficulty; then, based on their performance, additional questions are given.

If the user cannot answer a difficult question on a particular concept, the next questions asked are relatively easier. Alternatively, if the user is able to solve medium difficulty questions, the system will ask him questions of a higher difficulty level.

“Tagging a question with concept and difficulty level is the basic algorithm or essence involved in adaptive learning,” says Zishaan Hayath, Co-Founder, Toppr.com.

So, with personalised tests, videos to explain specific concepts, access to searchable and relevant content, and the ability to rate oneself against other students, smartphones are seen as the smart way to prepare for the exam .

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