With undergraduate-level entrance exams, including JEE Main, NEET, postponed till July, students have been finding it hard to stay focused for the extended period. To add to their woes, coaching institutes have been shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus, making online education the only way forward.
To help aspirants sail through the stressful time, coaching institutes have begun to innovate and are offering several initiatives in the digital space. From newer ways to reach out to students to refunds for unsuccessful attempts at the exam, here is a look at most unique initiatives:
Big players like Aakash institute, which has a traditional presence in the medical exam preparation arena, are offering heavy discounts including free registrations, live classes and demos in the digital space. Another old player, Vidyamandir Classes, has introduced ‘Crack NEET or GET FEE refund’ programme through which it promises a refund on tuition fee if the student does not crack the medical entrance exam. The institute is also offering 35 per cent anti-COVID scholarships on all NEET preparatory courses.
Newer edtech platforms including Unacademy, ETOOS have gone a step ahead by providing scholarship programmes starting from 50 per cent to 100 per cent waivers for JEE Main, NEET aspirants.
Due to the lockdown, online education has seen a massive surge. Be it prominent brands like Byju’s or the newer entrants like Toppr.com, there has been a growth in most verticals. As per a study by ranking website SimilarWeb, edtech platforms witnessed around 128.8 million visitors during the first 28 days of lockdown compared to 102.2 million average visits until February 2020.
To tap the growing demand among the anxious students who are or will be appearing for the entrance examination, companies are providing free registration. Gradeup’s #PadhaiNahiRukegi is among the many online platforms which focuses on online preparation of JEE Main, NEET. Students can register free of cost for a bouquet of offerings including live classes, online tests to solve papers. Grade Up alone has seen a rise of 20-25 per cent in enrollments.
According to Shobhit Bhatnagar, co-founder, Gradeup, “The spike is across all segments, but especially true for JEE Main and NEET aspirants with their exams being scheduled in July. The growth rate varies from 25 to 40 per cent across segments.”
Smaller ed-tech platforms like YuppMaster, Extramarks, too, are offering free live classes. The live session is structured as per various classes, starting from class 8, and also offered doubt clearance via live chat. Bangalore based ed-tech startup Edvizo, as well as BasicFirst, are offering doubt clearance classes for aspirants of JEE Main, NEET. The classes are being conducted over the Zoom, skype, other platforms.
Richell Robin, a JEE Main aspirant, is planning to appear for the July exam. While she has already completed and revised the syllabus, she wants to keep herself engaged through mock tests. “I cannot study further. JEE Main is in July and therefore I have registered in free mock tests to make sure I don’t forget what I have learned. Besides, I have also paid for a crash course in JEE Advanced preparation,” said Chowdhary.
Hiring of teachers
As edtech platforms venturie into new programmes and courses, they need teachers to implement their ideas and come up with original and engaging content. While some put faith in their existing teachers, others, mainly startups move to hire trained professionals to get their job done.
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Pearson, for instance, has trained around 5,500 teachers in the last two months for various online programmes, including that of JEE Main and NEET. Meanwhile, EdTech startup WhiteHat Jr recently announced to onboard 2000 plus teachers each month. The Gradeup is hiring for 30-40 faculty positions since May, and has a plan to scale up for the next quarter, the company mentioned in its release.
Mock tests a hit
Keeping the underprivileged in mind, the HRD ministry launched the ‘National Test Abhyaas’ app. Such is the demand that 4.70 lakh students registered to appear for the online mock tests for NEET and JEE Main within a few days of launch. A total of 4.70 lakh downloaded the NTA app, as informed by HRD ministry.
Pearson India, which is primarily a publishing agency, has also recently announced the launch of MyInsights NEET – an all-India level online test series to boost the preparation strategy of students sitting at home. The exam will be conducted on June 13.
Various institutes are coming up with a combined package in the form of crash courses for JEE Main, NEET aspirants. The courses consist of live classes, online tests, solved papers, e-study materials, guide books, offered for a period of 30 to 50 days.
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