[App Fridays] How this startup by IITians helps civil service aspirants stay up-to-date with 'Current Affairs'


Most of us read and track news and events happening in our city and around the world through multiple sources. But keeping track of all and also monitoring how much we actually understand, retain, and recall is not an easy task. This is especially a pain-point for students applying for civil services and other government jobs in India. Mumbai based Testbook, an EdTech startup, aims to tackle this problem with a mobile app.

The team

What is it?

Titled ‘Daily Current Affairs and Quiz’ and available in English and Hindi, the app provides users with daily news updates is short bullet points under 370 characters. Users can navigate through the app and also track important news updates they may have missed. After reading the day’s news, users can take a daily quiz to help them test their understanding and recall.

With the app, Testbook aims to provide competitive exam takers access to news relevant to their exam preparations and also skip irrelevant news. Testbook claims they went from idea to execution in 20 days and developed the app, keeping in mind the needs of users. It occupies 2.3 MB of space and has been optimised for 2G Internet connections because of intermittent Internet connectivity and low-end smartphones in India.

Story so far

Testbook was founded in January 2014 by six IIT graduates to help students crack the GATE exam. The core team consists of Ashutosh Kumar, Narendra Agrawal, Manoj Munna and Praveen Agrawal, IIT Bombay alumni, and Yadvendar Champawat and Abhishek Sagar, IIT Delhi alumni.

After gaining traction for GATE, they decided to focus on more verticals. In October 2014, they expanded their services to other exams such as CAT, SBI PO, SBI CLERK, and IBPS PO, and have included GK and current affairs. At this stage, Testbook raised 1.5 crores from LetsVenture and Ah Ventures, along with a few external angel investors.

App Screenshot

Looking at the market trends and how mobile was gaining immense traction in India, they launched a mobile app version of Testbook to go after the larger upcoming market. Now in 2016, after seeing the demand for current affairs, content from aspirants of many exams decided to unbundle this section from their main app and spin it off as a separate product. Abhishek and Ishti Gupta headed the Android development for this effort.

When questioned on why provide a separate current affairs app, Ashutosh claimed,

We released our first e-learning app to cover a bunch of courses, but storage space and data usage can make or break your product when it comes to current affairs. This section is ubiquitous in every government recruitment exam and in most competitive exams as well. A stand-alone app makes sense when you are directly targeting a four-crore-strong market.

The app is currently free to download and use for end consumers and devoid of ads. Testbook is exploring multiple channels to help them drive revenue through the app once they hit a certain user base. Currently, only available for Android as it forms a large chunk of their target market. The team plans to launch Windows and iOS version of the app in the near future.

Some of the USPs of the app include:

  • Read news in 100 words or less and follow-up with practice quizzes.
  • Save important news for later and read all loaded content offline.
  • Disable or enable notifications easily based on need.

Related read from July 2015: With 2.1 lakh registered users and 1.37 Cr questions solved, Testbook is targeting both web and mobile platforms

Sector overview

With the second highest population in the world and parents who keep education as the number one priority, India is among the biggest markets for education enterprises and startups. Almost 70–80 lakh Indians give banking and civil services exams annually. With this app, Testbank aims to go after a key problem of keeping up with current affairs that most average students find hard to tackle. Testbook competes in this sector with Instock Inc., Online Tyari, Sharma Tutorials, Jagran, and others who are also trying to solve this pain-point.

What we liked

The app is well designed and lives up to its promise. The news is delivered in bite-sized points and users can immediately take a quiz for each day to test their retention, recall and understanding of current affairs.

Users can also switch between English and Hindi based on their preferred choice, and this feature makes the app more accessible to a much larger portion of the Indian audience. The ability to bookmark and read later closes the loop and helps users track their progress easily.

What could be improved?

The app currently summarises news into easy to comprehend point, but currently doesn’t provide users access to the entire article that they have sourced the content from. Adding this feature would help users gain more insights and also read the entire story if they wish to gather more information.

Adding more social features such as the ability to challenge a friend to take the same quiz as you and compare scores, a daily or weekly leader board could also make the app more engaging and ‘sticky’ for the end user.

YourStory take

Smartphones have almost become an extension of our lives and we rely on it for our day-to-day survival – from booking cabs to checking social media and also tracking news. It is slowly gaining traction in the education sector too. Although it may not completely replace the traditional methods of learning, it is definitely a great complimentary tool for now.

‘Daily Current Affairs and Quiz’ by Testbook is a well thought-out and executed app that solves multiple pain-points of helping people track news and also keep tabs on how much they can understand and recall from what they read. With a few minor tweaks, targeted and cross-marketing through Testbook’s other networks, this app could be a frontrunner in this segment.

Download the app here

What do you think about this app, do let us know in the comments below. Also do check out other apps under our App Fridays series.

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