Getting an A with Social Media

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It seems as if better grades will be the latest benefit associated with the ever-increasing trends in social media.

BenchPrep, a new social learning start-up, looks to redesign test preparation by blending an interactive and engaging learning platform with course information.

The company is backed by the co-founders of Groupon, the popular daily deal company, and is perfect for a range of users from high school students to those looking to prepare for professional certification.

The principle behind the program emphasizes that textbooks are not the best way to retain and learn information. Instead, BenchPrep seeks to include a game and social element that allows users to better understand information and improve test scores.

Doc Fullmer, a sophomore from Syracuse, Kan., agrees and said he thinks a program like this would improve student learning.

“Textbooks are full of great information, but at times there is so much it’s hard to retain it all,” Fullmer said. “For me, an interactive approach would be a lot more entertaining compared to reading. You’d be able to see what you’re learning and I think you’d probably learn and retain more.”

Ashish Rangnekar, CEO and co-founder of BenchPrep, had the idea for the program while preparing for the GMAT. He studied the available resources and realized they were often too expensive and insufficient in helping students learn and remember material.

“There is so much content available for students, but the way content is being distributed is lacking,” Rangnekar said. “We wanted to develop an easy and accessible approach that can be used on every device, from iPhones and Androids to laptops and tablets.”

Users of BenchPrep have the ability to prepare for courses on any device they use and can obtain answers to questions in real time, without flipping through pages or to the end of a book to check progress and verify answers. They can also create flashcards and study programs and compare their test prep scores with others.

BenchPrep works with major publishing companies, such as McGraw-Hill, Wiley and Finsage, to provide users with information from their textbooks, but in a fun and creative way that will stimulate the mind and provide greater understanding and retention.

Eric Palmer, a junior studying biology at Southern Virginia University, said although textbooks are useful, it isn’t always convenient to read every page and believes other approaches are more effective in helping students study.

“For my math class there are a lot of online tutorials, which helps a lot,” Palmer said.

Already there is evidence the program is a success. According to Rangnekar, the company has seen a 30 percent increase in scoring within the platform itself.

“However, the real success rate is by test scores achieved outside of the classroom,” Rangnekar said.

Pricing for the platform ranges between $100 and $150 depending on the course, which includes high school and college classes, standardized tests and certification exams.

The program started in July 2011 and currently more than 400,000 people in 20 countries use the program, averaging around nine hours a month on BenchPrep.

For more information, students can check out the BenchPrep website, benchprep.com.

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