Competitive exam preparation after secondary education has been on the rise in India since the late eighties. Parents saw education changing millions of lives and students became aware of good and sometimes global opportunities that higher education brought. These aspirations led to an increased competition and wherever there is competition, some extra effort is needed to remain ahead of the rest. Parents’ determination to not see their ward lagging behind boosted the growth of competitive exam preparation in India for 11th and 12th class students which gradually shifted to as early as 8th class.
Lately with the advent of ICT (Information and communication technology), availability of online resources especially in the form of video content has become easily accessible from anywhere at a low cost with the help of some basic infrastructure. It is expected to reduce dependence on physical classroom coaching industry as ICT provides students the flexibility to access content sitting in their homes rather than travelling and settling in a completely new city away from their homes. They can access the content at their own convenience and at their own Pace. But still the players in this segment are finding it difficult to replace the physical classroom coaching; in fact the rate of growth of students joining physical classroom coaching is not decreasing as expected. So what is it that is still presumed to be different in a coaching classroom and how can players in coaching continue to grow with some innovation?
Why does a student join a coaching class?
- Weak Schooling system:
Parents and students widely believe that the school education doesn’t actually impart problem solving and analytical skills. These are considered important skills to crack any competitive exam, and the perceived failure of school education in imparting real skills makes students join a coaching class. Irrespective of their performance in regular school exams, they believe that proper guidance can bring out their hidden talent and that the coaching classes are much better than schools in providing this guidance.
Moreover, the school exams are quite different from the competitive exams and this makes a student to look for alternative preparation like physical classroom coaching or online content.
- Regular, Structured and Disciplined Study Plan: This is a major reason for which parents prefer sending students to coaching classes. While the online world rides on flexibility, parents think that their wards need less of flexibility and more of discipline. As they themselves are generally not able to provide a disciplined environment to their wards, they prefer to leave it to external guidance in form of a coaching class.
- Development of Competitive Spirit in Classroom: While teaching a group of students in a coaching class, teachers directly or indirectly develop a competitive spirit within students. Students do not only solve the problem that they are asked to but also try to be the first one to solve it and then speak their answer loudly as soon as they finish it. This inculcates the spirit of solving the questions in as less time as possible and that too correctly as incorrect answers tend to cause a lot of embarrassment. Beyond conceptual clarity, speed and accuracy are very important traits required in a real competitive exam.
Online players will find it hard to impart these skills and thus the physical classroom coaching will continue to have an edge until online coaching provides multiple real time interactions between students and teachers through infrastructure like satellite classes.
- Regular test practice: Coaching classes keep testing students regularly and thus keep them on track with study plan as well. As evident from current developments, more and more exams are going to be online in near future. Policymakers are inclined towards online exams as they ensure transparency, provide quicker evaluation and nullify the chances of paper leakage. Therefore, with time, students tend to move to online testing from current offline testing method. Apart from practice, online testing gives a lot of analysis of a student’s exam taking behavior. Improvement on exam taking behavior helps students in all competitive exams as it is independent of the exam syllabus. Since this analysis is available immediately after a test, it also provides teachers more time to change their teaching plans based on needs and level of class. Most of the time, online tests come at a lower cost as well. Hence, this is one area in which coaching institutes can supplement their offerings. Very soon, students and their parents will expect relevant online testing service from coaching institutes and it may become the deciding factor in their choice of coaching institute. Coaching institutes should seriously think about partnering with online test providing platforms or building their own online testing platforms.
So, unless some online service provider is able to cover all the above discussed parameters and also offers extra services such as online testing, provision of round the clock doubt clearance etc., physical coaching institutes will remain the first choice of students and parents. These institutes just need to catch up with the developments through a little innovation and strategic tie-ups and they seem to be best placed to do so.
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