Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Information Imbalance

Exams-The nightmare of every student and if you are an Indian student then it just gets even worse. Every year lakhs of students sit for various exams like 10th board, 12th board, national entrances to name a few. And I, being an engineering student, have experienced most of them. Also be warned as the experience is nothing less than torture. But now when I look back at those times I realize that the exams themselves were not so tough, the problem was the information imbalance. I didn't know what to study and ended up studying everything and wasting a lot many study hours.

NCERT is the body responsible for print textbooks for CBSE. Since CBSE conducts the board examination along with various national entrance examinations and NCERT publishes books for CBSE one would imagine that these two bodies must be working in complete coordination but that is as far from being a reality. I specifically remember that the last exercise of every chapter of my math book was marked with an asterisk which when one looked at the bottom of the page read -“these exercises are not from examination point of view”, and the funny part is many of those questions could be found in past year question papers often marked as important in various help books. So in the end one ends up studying everything as one can never be sure of exactly what is in course. As a result of which many or I should say most of whom who can afford to, opt for coaching classes or private tuitions. I remember that my entire s class took tuitions for majority of the subjects (I didn’t because I’m one of the rare ones who score lesser marks if put in tuitions).

Some of the recent market research estimates the worth of the coaching classes and entrance exam preparation sector at US $-billion dollar industry with CAGR of 13.23% (US$~ billion) by 2012(according to a report by Ken Research Private Limited). While the existence of such institutes and services are a matter of hot debate these days but quite a few people are concerning themselves in understanding the main reason behind their existence.

Franklin Templeton Investment partnered the TEDx Gateway Mumbai in December 2012. In this, various people spoke about a variety of topics. Amongst them Angad Nadkarni spoke about the Indian education system and how he has hacked the same. He spoke about an app he has created called EXAMIFY which is intended to help students study effectively by studying past trends of the exams and indentifying the importance of each chapter along with the type of questions which can be expected from the chapter.

In my opinion, if this app can do what it promises then it will majorly change the dynamics of the way students prepare for examinations. Also Examify claims that with analyzing the past trends they will be able to predict future question papers.If they can succeed even partially the net result would be of great help to students. Also, this will help students across the economic strata as internet accessibility is increasing manifold with every passing month. This will not only help economically weaker sections but also those who find it hard to study for long hours with a book.

Another feature I found pretty interesting about this service was that it allows students to attempt questions online and compare their performance on a national level. This will not only help in revising but also in understanding the type of questions to be expected from the subject. Furthermore, Examify allows the student to rate the questions as they attempt them. So if majority of students find it difficult then one can skip it without wasting time, something Angad himself talks about in the above listed video. This is one feature I wish I had access to back when I was giving my boards because I wasted lot many hours solving questions which were way above the prescribed difficulty level.

I got 92% in my 10th board and 90% in my 12th board exams, But I think if I had examify at that time then I would have scored more. Nonetheless, at least my brother will benefit from this (he needs this ). I wish Angad and his team all the best in correcting this information imbalance and making student's lives easier.  


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