Published: 20th November 2019
This user-centric online platform is making a name for itself in the education sector
Ashutosh Kumar leads Testbook.com, one of the nation’s most trusted learning and assessment platforms and he claims it has the potential to land you a stable government job!
Every year in India, around the month of March, there is this frantic rush of academic fever which has been diagnosed by the government as ‘the Board exams’ syndrome. Years of preparation, planning and perseverance all boil down to these few months of intense pressure, with front-rowers seeking top grades and backbenchers seeking pass marks! Irrespective of whether these students intend to become doctors or engineers (professions that are synonymous with India), it is perfectly safe to say that some of them will be striving, on some level or the other, to fulfill the requirements needed to apply for government jobs. Yes, working for the government isn’t particularly glamorous and you most certainly will not be ‘living the high life’, but it does come with its own perks and privileges!
For instance, job security. At a time when companies, even the so-called ‘market leaders’, are laying off people and finding methods to reduce expenditure, government jobs are relatively stable. You can blame it on the economy or other factors, but there is no denying that the government is a pretty safe body to work for in the present time. But how does one know the exact academic requirements, exams to be taken or the training/experience one needs prior to filling in an application? Not everybody has an uncle who is an IAS officer or a relative who works with the government. For these students, and the student population in general, Testbook.com is a blessing that offers exceptional services in the twin fields of education and employment. The company, which has declared itself as ‘one of India's best personalised learning and assessment platform', offers a plethora of functionalities, including ‘job discovery, teaching concepts, practising mock tests or simply doing revision’. It is the embodiment of the academic world’s jack-of-all-trades, with the only difference being that they are not just adept at what they do, but in fact, excel in it as well! Their statistics and performance numbers, too, are extraordinary and leave little doubt that they are certainly living up to their aforementioned bold claim!
Leading the way: Ashutosh wants his coaching sessions to be based off the user's strengths
Testbook.com was founded in early 2014 by Ashutosh Kumar, an MTech graduate from IIT Bombay with prior working experience in the fields of online retail and mentorship and six other individuals who shared his passion and interest for quality education. “I came up with a platform called Excelmentors.com in the year 2012, which provided mentorship to JEE aspirants by IIT students who had already been trained as mentors. This passion for education eventually culminated in the formation of Testbook.com,” says Ashutosh.
Over the last five years, Testbook.com has firmly established itself as a leader when it comes to preparing for jobs with the central government, with over nine million registered users and over 4,00,000 active paid subscribers. The platform focuses mainly on undergraduate (UG) and graduate (PG) job aspirants who are preparing for over 150 government recruitment exams. It is essentially an end-to-end learning and assessment platform. “The platform has been designed with a focus on Indian students and features an outcome-driven approach. This is among the key reasons as to why our success rate is seven times higher when compared to the average selection rate of one per cent! During the last three years, Testbook.com has led to over 35,000 selections in various government examinations. We are aiming to create a competitively-priced platform which is easily accessible to the masses, especially for students hailing from Tier II, III and VI cities,” he says.
Ashutosh also emphasises the importance of fine-tuning the platform to meet the prevailing situation in the Indian education and employment industry. “We want to constantly innovate and transform employment-exam preparation through the power of personalised learning. Our aim is to become the largest and the one-stop-shop for all unemployed Indian youth seeking government, private or fresher-level jobs,” he adds.
To the untrained eye, it might appear that the platform is merely following the traditional ‘drill and grill’ practice of drowning candidates under a tsunami of exams, mock tests and training programmes, but Ashutosh renders this notion false by saying, “The Indian education system is witnessing a lot of innovation and is focusing on providing quality learning to students in every nook and corner of the country. The rapid proliferation of smartphones and web technologies has provided an incredible infrastructure that can impart the same to every student. This is where we stand out from the rest. One of the key reasons behind our success and acceptance has been our obsession with user experience! Whether it is the relevance of content, the quality of educational material or simply the product experience, we have been committed to our users. It is this high emphasis on user-centric experience that has enabled Testbook.com to become a favourite among students in India. We have fantastic word-of-mouth goodwill among the student community, and over 70 per cent of the traffic and transactions on our website as well as the mobile app are organic,” says Ashutosh.
In good hands: The programmes at Testbook.com can be altered to accomodate the specific needs of the user
In order for the platform to function as desired, and to facilitate a seamless connection between the students and the services being offered, competency was a major factor. Thankfully, the Indian education system, which traces its lineage back to the golden era of Nalanda, Takshashila and Vikramashila, is among the finest in the world, at least at the school level. “Indian students are second to none when it comes to adapting to global standards of education and utilising cutting-edge technology tools. In fact, it would be appropriate to say that our students are better at coming to terms with the latest personalisation in the EdTech sector than most others,” remarks Ashutosh.
Despite this, most students seek to travel abroad for their higher education, particularly those who wish to earn hefty salaries later on. This is indeed a worrying trend and the Indian Prime Minister’s recent claim of inviting more foreigners to India to pursue their education seems like a distant dream. “The demand for foreign education germinates from multiple factors and one of the key reasons is the lack of enough seats for students in professional courses in Indian colleges. Majority of the millions of students who pass out successfully from schools each year are not able to get admission into a good college in India. Hence, these students try to study overseas,” says Ashutosh. Another major driving factor is the quality and global recognition of education. Most of the top colleges in western countries provide degrees that are valued all over the world. On the other hand, most of the Indian universities are rated low in terms of employability in the global market. Indian students, in short, find the option of studying overseas far more lucrative and promising for their careers. Oh, and the better living standards, facilities, amenities and safety components certainly add to the appeal as well!
Ashutosh also feels that technology and education are an integral part of one another and the nation must strive to complement one with the other. “Modern youth have easy access to the internet and most of them are at ease with new technologies that are relevant to education. So far, quality mass education has been a major concern in India due to the population and geographic expanse. In such a vast country, it is not practical to expect the physical presence of quality teachers in every area. It is also not possible to manually keep a record of the performance metrics of such a humongous student population. High-quality teaching faculty, educational content and continuous guidance are essential elements of good learning. This can be facilitated only through a technology-enabled education system,” he says
As mentioned at the onset, Testbook.com boasts of incredible numbers that highlight the sort of acceptance and success the platform has achieved. “We have a subscription-based platform for `600 per year for mock tests with over 9.5 lakh paid subscribers, out of which, 4.3 lakh are active subscribers. We charge `3,000 for six months and `5,000 per year for our online courses, with about 100 live courses available on the platform. Our total registration has surpassed nine million in just over five years of existence,” remarks Ashutosh.
Under Ashutosh’s leadership, the platform has turned into a digital training centre of sorts, keeping in pace with the current trend prevailing in India where everything seeks to become digitalised. The paperless procedure is good for the environment too! Testbook.com strives to deliver the best in terms of quality, something Ashutosh reaffirms by stating, “Our key differentiator is our user-centric approach. We have an in-house creative team comprising 250 dedicated professionals who work day and night to create quality, accurate and relevant content for the learners. Our team members are highly-qualified subject matter experts and teachers. We have harnessed technology to create a vast repository of content in the form of questions, mock tests and video lectures which are comprehensively tagged and facilitate our platform to analyse student performances. It also helps us make them understand their strengths and weaknesses.”
The platform also extends training for specific government recruitment exams for the post of bank PO, bank clerk, income tax inspector, excise inspector, railway pilot and so on. One of the most unique aspects here is their introduction of a ‘moderator’. No, that’s not just a fancy word for a teacher or a trainer. “In our live classrooms, students can interact and ask doubts from teachers in real-time. Discussions and doubt-solving sessions during these lectures make them very engaging and interactive. The role of the moderator is to help the teacher in interacting with the learners. They also ensure constant engagement with the students throughout the duration of the course to keep them focused and motivated,” says Ashutosh.
Testbook.com has joined forces with many major players in the country to bolster its own formidable array of educational services. “We have partnered with S Chand, one of the largest educational publishers in the country. We also have bundled online test subscriptions with over three million physical books that reach out to even the remotest parts of the country. We are also partners with over 100 coaching institutes and provide digital learning solutions to their students. In addition to this, Testbook.com has partnerships with more than 250 cyber cafés that sell our offline vouchers to students and provide local support,” concludes Ashutosh.
In a nation where education is critical for survival, where every mark makes a massive difference and teachers are generally well paid and respected, it’s no surprise that educational platforms are flourishing. If their current success is anything to go by, Testbook.com will certainly retain their throne of being one of India’s most popular learning and assessment platforms for government jobs!