Preparation for competitive exams such as IIT-JEE (Indian Institutes of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination) and AIPMT (All India Pre-Medical Test) is critical for aspirants looking to crack them.
But for some aspirants in a state like Jammu and Kashmir, hit by frequent curfews, lock-downs and strikes, preparations suffer as students often find it difficult to attend tuition classes.
A combination of such factors and the poor selection record of students from states such as Jammu and Kashmir prompted IIT alumni Mubeen Masudi, Imbesat Ahmad and Salman Shahid (later joined by Neyaz Ahmad, another IIT graduate, and Saifi Karim from Delhi Technological University) to set up Rise Institute of Scientific Education in Srinagar.
The institute has also developed a comprehensive mobile app called RiSE (RiSE: Test Series-JEE & AIPMT on Google Play Store) which serves as a virtual classroom in the absence of a real one, and also aims to prepare students for taking online exams. RiSE started out as an exclusive app available on select tablets in August 2015. It has now been released on the Play Store as a free download.
According to the app’s description on Play Store, it provides free chapter-wise practice tests segregated according to difficulty level, time-based and topic-wise tests as well as full tests, detailed reports after each test to analyze performance, all-India test series predicting rank at state and national levels and detailed high-quality solutions. It has been rated 4.5 out of 5 by users.
The RiSE app was one of the three winners in the Learning and Education category at the mBillionth Award South Asia 2016, organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation.
Smartphone penetration has been a vital cog in the initiative as it has allowed the founders to reach out to students residing in remote corners of Kashmir and other states. To ensure the app can be used on the most basic of smartphones, the file size has been kept under 3MB.
The free app has a lot to offer. A run-though of the features reveals the app’s broad database. The subjects covered are classified according to the exams one is preparing for, which makes it easier to find relevant study material. Each subjects comes with a test series. There is also an option for an aspirant to consult an expert on career choices.
RiSE has helped students in multiple ways. In August 2015, it came in handy for Kashmiri students who had applied for the post of relationship executive in Jammu & Kashmir Bank. The test was going to be held online and the applicants had no prior experience of it.
“For the first time, this exam was going to be computer-based. Almost all of the applicants had never experienced any computer-based exam. At that moment, the RiSE app proved to be very handy, giving them a simulation of a real examination,” said Shahid, one of the founders.
RiSE has also become very popular with students from Bihar for its wide inventory of mock test papers for IIT-JEE. The free counselling feature in the app has been popular, with more than 30,000 students signing up for it.
The app was developed in-house and funded through the profits of the institute. The institute has hired full-time coders for it.
Poor Internet coverage is a major bottleneck in the country, and the founders overcame it by optimizing the app for slower Internet speeds. The other big challenge was to get talented people to join the project. The political situation in the border state made it difficult to get more like-minded people to come on board.
“Since most of the technology start-ups are based in Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Mumbai, etc., we are cut off from all of them. For any major work or for meeting people or for launching our product, we have to travel to a metro city,” said Shahid.
The RiSE team studied the teaching processes of various colleges, spoke to teachers and students to get their feedback and built the app based on the inputs.
There is hope that the Digital India initiative will benefit start-ups like theirs, which will help the founders in their mission to bridge the educational divide between rural and urban India.
The plan is to continuously improve the app and upgrade the content, to fulfil the requirements of engineering, medical and law aspirants.
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan and mBillionth awards.