Whether it’s the ACT, PSAT, GMAT, or any other standardized test, preparation and studying haven't changed much over the years – until now, anyway. The test prep market, valued at close to $900 million, has been led by companies like Kaplan Test Prep and The Princeton Review, companies that require students to cling to their heavy test prep – and dated, textbooks.
But now there is a wave of new startups that are targeting this massive market with technology that promises to help students get prepped for tests from any device they choose at any time.
And there are some new wrinkles that should help them learn better and remember more. Here are 10 companies to watch in 2018.
Ready4, the personalized mobile-first test prep and admissions readiness company, is a startup out of MIT that believes the most effective way for students to study for standardized tests and manage an admissions process is through the mobile devices they carry around everywhere. Ready4's vision is to become the ‘go to’ app for every prospective student, undergraduate and graduate, domestic and international, for guidance and assistance in the entire application and admission process from test prep to successful enrollment.
In the last 2 years, the Boston-based company launched over 12 prep apps to the AppStore and PlayStore that are ranked near the top and helped over 2.5 million students prepare for the PSAT, ACT, SAT, GMAT, GRE and MCAT as well as for their MBA and College admissions process.
The company recently added its live prep courses that students can join through their phones or online and learn from elite instructors. The company raised over $8 million from notable investors such as SquarePeg Capital, Tal Education Group, Atlas Venture, Jamie McCourt, Yongjin Group and Zhen Fund.
Unlike most apps that focus on memorizing rules and vocabulary, Ready4's selling points are powerful AI learning system that personalize test prep for every student; the combination of their digital learning solutions with affordable live classes and its patented Label Study Method, a text-processing app that highlights words in practice questions related to the concepts being tested. Elad Shoushan, CEO of Ready4, says that this highlighting of words teaches students to recognize patterns through visual cues and keywords.
Formerly known as ClassConnection, StudyBlue pairs all the related class and textbook materials for a given class (e.g. Econ 101 with Professor Jones at Stanford) so students have access to everything from their classmates in one study guide. The StudyBlue search navigation bundles people, classes and related materials so everything and everyone needed is available at once.
The search app also lets students filter the library by textbook and author to discover specific study materials or information needed for study and test prep. StudyBlue was founded by CEO Chris Klundt and received a Series A infusion of $1.7 million. The company has since moved from Wisconsin to Silicon Valley.
BenchPrep offers the only comprehensive learner success platform on the market, delivering enterprise SaaS solutions that provide an unmatched digital learning experience for organizations that administer certification, credentialing, test prep, and continuing education programs. BenchPrep partners with educational publishers such as ACT, HR Certification Institute, Becker Professional Education, Hobsons, McGraw Hill Education, and more to create interactive, digitized learning programs. The web-based platform has an omnichannel user delivery via iOS and Android apps, tablets and laptop computers, allowing learners to take their studies with them on-the-go.
BenchPrep’s software utilizes adaptive technology that recognizes and adapts to users’ particular learning style, while offering features that meet the needs of the modern learner such as gamification, social learning, and personalization to help their partners digitally transform approaches to learning and training. Having assisted over 3 million learners pass the tests that allow them to advance toward their goals, the now primarily B2B platform that is BenchPrep will assist countless more to realize their professional dreams going forward.
Gojimo is a London-based education software company that produces a self-test exam-preparation mobile app for the iPhone, iPad, Android and web. The app offers over 50,000 free curriculum-specific quiz questions to over 300,000 monthly active learners.
Gojimo was founded by George Burgess, a 23-year-old British entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford University to focus on growing Gojimo. The company raised £630,000, or approximately $876,000, in a seed round led by Index Ventures and added another £500,000 – $695,000 – in crowd funding. Gojimo previously raised over $1 million (£719,000) in a seed round led by Index Ventures, which included participation by JamJar Investments (the innocent drinks founders).
Test Innovators helps students prepare for standardized tests like ACT, ISEE, SSAT, PSAT, HSPT, by using technology to provide guidance on studying. Diagnostic tools help identify areas of needed improvement by categorizing test questions by subject type and difficulty. The Test Innovators online platform provides answers, explanations, and statistics for each question, and optional question banks provide additional targeted practice.
The platform also has a timing tracker that displays the time spent on each question to help students effectively manage their time. It also generates a personalized prep plan with best next steps to prepare students for the next day. CEO and Founder Edan Shahar says the company’s AI-generated learning programs are helping students score a staggering 70% above average.
TriviaNote is a unique test prep company that is making studying fun by turning a student’s notes into a stimulating and entertaining experience. The student makes notes on what they are studying and marks the things they wants to study.
They upload their notes, and the TriviaNote app goes to work scouring the Internet for relevant content to transform into flashcards or quizzes. TriviaNote also enables students to collaborate with their classmates and challenge each other with quizzes.
D.C.-based startup, PrepFactory is a free online platform that provides students with games and fun videos to help with the SAT preparation process. PrepFactory provides step-by-step questions and guidance to minimize student anxiety before tests.
PrepFactory has a user base of 200,000 learners and plans to incorporate other exams like the GRE and LSAT.
Picmonic is an online visual storytelling platform, where anyone, anywhere can create, share, and learn with picture mnemonics. The platform helps retention and improves test scores by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzes.
Picmonic founders and medical students, Ron Robertson and Adeel Yang, took the idea of picture mnemonics and applied clever images and humorous characters tied together with story and audio — and put it online to create the ultimate study system for retention and recall. Picmonic cites research that shows students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.
Founded in New Delhi by Shikhar Sachan and Rohit Pande, Civilsdaily is a startup that aggregates and curates news items that are relevant for test preparation. Its mobile app summarizes important current events in a flashcard format, allowing students to quickly digest pertinent information.
The Civilsdaily app covers a range of fields, including economics, environment and biodiversity, geography, history, politics, science, technology, trivia and world events.
Although Revolution Prep has been around for a while, the company makes this list because of its focus on test prep for all the standardized tests out there. It uses a holistic approach that goes beyond just grades and test scores. Each of the company’s programs include methods for lowering stress, getting into the test zone, and other approaches to build a positive mindset.
The focus is on love of learning, lowering anxiety, and then attaining higher grades and scores. The company was founded by UCLA graduates and former tutors Jake Neuberg and Ramit Varma with a vision to “transform education”. It appears they are well on their way. Revolution Prep has learners in all 50 states and 40 countries.