Exam Preparation is one of the key educational activities in student life. This also makes it a lucrative business to provide them with necessary assistance. This assistance is usually done through tutoring, content, testing & benchmarking.
Conventional Benchmarking: Pros & Cons
Exams and particularly entrance exams act as a sieve through which only a student who manages to perform above a certain performance threshold emerges successful. This threshold level unlike qualifying exams is actually determined by the capabilities of the population appearing for the test. Hence benchmarking oneself against his peers is a key indicator of success probability. Since these tests are becoming a national exercise, any worthwhile benchmarking has to be at national level.
Until over a decade ago the market, which catered to the need of these students, was highly fragmented with small city centric players scattered throughout the country. These centers catered to numerous categories of exams. Any benchmarking, if done was at most at the city level, which really didn’t give a clear picture in National or State Level Exams. Things began to change when National chains of institutes started emerging. They brought in their own national benchmarking tests. Though these tests were held at a national level, they lacked statistical significance. The population of these students was majorly composed of students of the chain only; hence any statistical comparison was not representative of the actual population of competitors.
Internet brings Analytics; the rules of the game are rewritten
Analytics have the potential to transform the way test prep is done in the world. The advent and subsequent mass adoption of internet in the country led to various disruptions in many sectors. We saw the norms changing in many traditional core sectors like banking, ticketing, shopping, matrimonial services etc and these innovations are threatening to wipe off the companies running these businesses conventionally.
In education, animated and interactive content was widely believed to be the biggest disruptors whereas the next big thing is not solely the content but mainly what happens around that content. The ever-growing volume of data around high quality content gives way to the concept that every new user on the website adds value for the next user and makes benchmarking more scientific and relevant.
Analytics have started solving many of the problems that traditional benchmarking had. The sample is random, representative of the entire nation, permanently captured and continuously growing.
Levels of Benchmarking
Analytics offer benchmarking at two levels
Benchmarking with self: A test taker would like to know if he is improving with each subsequent test. These analytics would cover speed, accuracy and error analysis to continuously improve on any subject area, stream or competitive exam area.
Benchmarking with peers: In this, a user has the flexibility to benchmark against any student sitting in any corner of the country. The benchmarking can be done at various levels; starting from city, state or national level. He can also benchmark himself against any group preparing for any competitive exam and has the flexibility to go up to any subgroup level. For example, you may benchmark yourself against male engineers preparing for FMS from NCR.
Much more than a regular benchmarking tool
However, such an internet based platform is not without challenges. Thousands of tests are developed by hundreds of authors, so it becomes a real challenge to manage the quality of these tests. It took us hundreds of authors to write around 450,000 tagged questions and enroll 1 million students to capture approximately 23 million Analytics ( read question attempts ) before we can say that we can provide decent benchmarking . Another rating based system for content and authors ensures that inferior quality tests are chucked out of the system automatically.
Fulfills the aspirations of teachers to deliver the best
Another interesting side of the story is the ‘game change’ in traditional publishing. There is a big problem of the traditional Industry that such system is addressing. Volumes are written usually by one or two authors. If we have a book, which contains 20 chapters, we cannot assume that the author is equally good on all the 20 chapters to be dealt with. Therefore, we usually have textbooks, which cover some areas perfectly, but some areas are left not so perfect. So how do we get our perfect book?
There are thousands of authors who want to publish their work, but they are proficient in only a set of topics. Traditional publishing houses are hence out of their reach. Such online platforms have the unique capacities to put together thousands of authors in the long tail to write on the subjects that they know best and would have the perfect compilation on them.
There are many exams also in the long tail that are held at a limited level and hence are not financially viable for quality publishers to cover. Therefore, there is always a dearth of quality material for the students who prepare for these exams. Such online platforms that give flexibility to students to generate their own tests are a big boon.
All this is just the tip of the iceberg. Such rich data of a candidate at various stages of his student and working life can disrupt some other sectors too. May be it calls for another long article…..
Rajan started preparing for CAT right from his second year of B-Tech. By the time he reached his final year, he found that an early start had given him a definite edge over others who had started their preparation in the third year or the final year. He was confident that he would get through.
The D-day came and he attempted very well as he usually did. When the result card declared that he had scored 85 percentile, he found it hard to digest. Where did Rajan go wrong? Why couldn’t he get through to the IIMs even though he was intelligent and had worked hard towards his goal?
Many scholars share Rajan’s problem. They fail to understand that competition is not about ‘how smart you are’ but about ‘how smarter than the others’. What Rajan’s preparation lacked was benchmarking against others, including the best, and continuous, monitored improvement. Rajan knew the areas he was good at, but he didn’t know how much input he needed to put in and where. He thought he was best among his immediate peers, but he failed to reckon with the best across the nation.
You surely don’t want to be another Rajan. Do you? So, read on.
What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking in test prep refers to monitoring your competitors and understanding your relative position among the test takers. This helps you in understanding your current level of preparation and additional effort required to improve your competitive positioning. Benchmarking should always be followed by remedial action and identification of improvement areas for arriving at action points.
Benchmarking can be broadly classified into three categories
-benchmarking with self
This is particularly helpful in qualifying exams and for improvement in a particular subject area. Here the focus is not on competition but on self-improvement. The aim is to continually identify and remove weak areas to reach the desired level of proficiency. After reviewing every test, you analyze in detail, the sub skills where your score is low. You work on these sub-skills and take subsequent tests to see how your score has improved. You may also take a test specifically of the sub skills where you scored low. Therefore, the improvement happens in progressive iterations until a desired level of scoring is achieved.
-benchmarking in a group
Here a student identifies a small group against which he would like to benchmark himself. Usually this group would be of a similar profile as the candidate himself. The candidate first excels in this group and chooses progressively larger groups subsequently.
Students who are appearing in National competitive exams like CAT, IIT JEE, PMT, GATE, UPSC etc, adopt national benchmarking. Here a test taker compares himself with his peers throughout the nation and then focuses strategically on maximizing his overall score by working on his weaknesses and reinforcing his strengths.
How is Benchmarking done?
paper pencil based mock test
This can be a very good tool to assess one’s competitive positioning in the nation after completion of one’s preparation. The nature of the assessment being summative, this is kind of a final judgment on one’s preparation rather than a tool of improvement.
However, is the preparation for any competitive exam ever complete?
The reported aggregate score and a percentile rank leave little scope for any analyses of topics for areas of improvement. Also, since the student base is from the test conducting institute only, the data is not true representative and any inference drawn is biased.
online mock test
Online mock tests present a more detailed analysis of test performance. The student can easily see the areas where he needs to improve. However, these tests stop at that, and seldom provide the user with the tools for improvement. Since a user would require tests in many different formats for further improvement, these tests are a one time affair and leave the user high and dry, gasping for improvement.
Besides, the scores and analyses are reliable and statistically valid only if these tests enjoy the patronage of a significant number of students.
analytics way: the right way
- Flexibility to use any type of benchmarking refereed to earlier
- A large student base of approx 1 million (& counting) gives considerable statistical advantage
- 23 million TCY Analytics* (question attempts) & counting
- Automatically suggests improvement areas and action points
- Generates tests to specifically improve identified weak areas
- Picks suggested video tutorials based on your test performance
- Gathers information around each question through student and author discussions
*TCY Analytics: Question attempts where each question has data of each candidate who attempted it, around parameters like time taken on question, gender, age, city, stream ( B.Com, B.Tech, BBA etc)
This data gives students:
A. Comparative benchmarking like:
National benchmarking: National ranking & percentiles for each test
Comparison with top ten : Your performance with national toppers
Comparison with Friends/Groups/Classmates: Your performance with your chosen friends
Customized Comparison: City-wise, state-wise, stream-wise comparison reports
B. Recommendations like:
Your weak areas and recommended tests to overcome these weak areas
C . Self Assessment:
Overall Performance till date: Your performance trends test by test
Topic-wise Analysis till date: A cumulative topic wise analysis of your tests
View Overall Analysis : Which questions you have marked correct/wrong
Question by Question Analysis: The answer to each question and discussion with others
Topic-wise Analysis: Your sub-sub-sub skills to improve faster and your BEST & WEAK topics in the test
Difficulty-wise Analysis: How well you performed on difficult questions
Your Time Management: Know your Time Savers & Time Takers in the test, based on average time per question
What makes TCY-Analytics unique is that hundreds of authors spread all over the world upload thousands of quality tests. It is like a textbook in which each chapter is written by the best expert in that area. Each question is rated and the junk is automatically removed from the site, giving users the best content quality experience.
For our school going K-10 friends, we have a highly effective assessment test called National Benchmarking Test, for students in grades 6 to 10. TCY -NBT is a test of its kind! It is unique as it combines a comprehensive assessment test with a plan of remedial action to overcome the weaknesses it identifies, and further with a career preparedness graph to guide a student on the career options available as per his existing skill levels. What is more, the Analytics of TCY-NBT also provides detailed statistics on his competitiveness at the national, state, regional and school levels.
If you have a testing history on TCYonline, it is mapping your different competencies more and more accurately with every subsequent test. Start early; maintain regularity for us to recommend to you various career options, based on your competencies, throughout your student and working life. Remember, ever increasing portfolio of test categories on TCYonline will give you tests that help you decide career paths. Keep visiting TCYonline more and more often for more and more tests and keep growing intellectually all your life.
Test Preparation without TCY Analytics is incomplete.
Your comments and suggestions are welcome!
Kamal Wadhera along with Viji RajRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off )