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Education BlogOct, 28 2016

The Shift from Brick and Mortar to Online Test Preparation

The introduction of online test preparation has made learning simpler—you no longer have to manage your busy schedule and set your priorities around classroom timings.

By Arun Jagannathan

Even a decade back, learning equated to regular classes attended in a brick and mortar classroom. Once time was up, if you needed more clarification, you’d either have to wait till the next class, or you’d have to run to the library for extra research. In the last few years however, the future of education seems to have taken a major turn, thanks to technology.

True, online education was first introduced way back in 1960 by the University of Illinois, but its popularity seems to have taken off only since 2009. Today, there are a multitude of options available for online learning. Hence it comes as no surprise that these opportunities are accessible even to students preparing for standardized tests such as the GMAT and the GRE.

1. Online Tutoring

15-20 years back, test-prep companies offered primarily classroom learning for students planning to take the GMAT or the GRE. Today, the same companies are cashing in on the increasing demand for online tutoring.

Earlier, a working professional wanting to take the GMAT would have to take a long break from work in order to prepare well. Online tutoring like CrackVerbal definitely negates that need. Online test preparation also offers a variety of learning modes, including mock tests, videos and interactive sessions with teachers.

2. Learn on the go

The introduction of online test preparation has made learning simpler—you no longer have to manage your busy schedule and set your priorities around classroom timings. You can now prepare at a time that suits your convenience.

Remember, when we would complain of how heavy our bags were thanks to the number of textbooks, test papers and notes. Gone are those days. Technology now gives us the power to fit all of this and more into a laptop or a smartphone—both of which are easy to carry.

Mobile learning is especially a hit with test-takers of the GMAT and GRE. With innumerable study apps and a variety of study methods (flashcards, games, quizzes, podcasts and more), it unquestionably emerges as the winner in the field of online test preparation.

3. Online Simulation Tests

The GMAT and the GRE tests necessitate familiarity with using scratchpads, marking answers and reviewing them, accessing online calculators and reading on screen. Online test prep helps you get acquainted with this format through mock tests and quizzes.

Thus the more online tests you take the more extensive simulation you receive. The fact that you can also review your answers immediately and build your strategies based on those answers, is an added advantage.

This results in a major confidence boost right before the standardized test that you’re about to take.

4. Online discussion forums

Peer learning has always been considered an effective way to prepare for tests. Remember dropping by a friend’s place for “group study” just before a tough examination? Online test prep isn’t that different. You might not go physically to a friend’s place, but you will find discussion forums, where participants are more than ready to help out.

In fact research has shown that engagement through peer learning across various online learning platforms, especially before the GMAT or the GRE, has been constantly increasing. You can discuss questions and their answers, clear your doubts, gain valuable information and interact with other test takers. Through these discussion forums, you also gain access to tips and tricks from instructors that can prove to be of great help.

5. Study apps

You are a professional, you have a full-time job, deadlines to meet, targets to achieve, KRAs to fulfill and projects to complete. It’s a hectic world, and you’ve got to participate in the rat race to earn a living. So how on earth are you supposed to take time out and prepare for standardized tests? After all, the GRE and the GMAT require at least 3-4 months of intensive reading and practice.

This is where study apps step in. Thanks to online preparation, study apps are available to us, and we can use them to learn at a pace that we are comfortable with. From eBooks to games to quizzes to videos to podcasts—these study apps offer a range of learning modes for different kinds of learners.

6. Personalized Learning

This is probably the best thing about online test preparation. In a brick and mortar setting, the average classroom would have about 35-40 people preparing for a standardized test. Imagine you are shy and uncomfortable clarifying doubts in a class full of other students. You would probably refrain from asking questions and wait for a chance to interact with your teacher personally.

You might also have your own preferences and needs. These needs sometimes get overlooked in a classroom setting.

Online preparation helps counter these disadvantages by providing the freedom and flexibility to learn according to your needs and abilities.

Online test preparation hasn’t yet completely replaced traditional forms of learning. A lot of us might still prefer the rigidity and structure of a physical classroom. However, more and more students are now opting for online tutoring, primarily because of the ability to choose how they study. So for now, classrooms and online education co-exist in harmony. However every time a student decides to go the tech way, they contribute their bit in the shift from brick and mortar to online test preparation.

About the author:

Co-Founder and CEO at CrackVerbal, Arun heads the academics and marketing functions and also works at the helm of the admissions consulting team. He is a fellow of the Startup Leadership program and is a regular speaker at startup events. He brings to the table rich insights from a decade of corporate experience in companies such as Wipro and Sapient. He also draws on over 15 years of experience as a test-prep trainer and an admissions coach as he steers CrackVerbal to raise the bar in the world of test-prep and admissions consulting.

Related: Digital Evaluation: The next big technology revolution in examinations

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