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In March 2021, we developed a mobile app to help students prepare for competitive exams in India, now being used by over 80,000 students a month. FlashPrep uses active recall, spaced repetition and visual learning to put the fun back into learning - and help them practice and master whatever they are learning. These methods not only help the student learn better in less time, but they also result in higher scores.
I led design for FlashPrep across iOS, Android & Web since the outset of the project in October 2020. This case study lays down the foundation for MVP & understanding user needs.
Up until January 2022, the product constantly evolved to gamify the arduous task of rote memorization, customizing micro study plans that help them manage time, craft an exam strategy and score better.
Responsible for research, conceptualisation, design, user testing, analysis and delivery of key modules and feature areas.
2 designers, 1 product manager and 4+ engineers.
Co-Author : Sonal Nagwani
14 months
Background: Students have a lot to cover in the syllabus for any exam. Studies show that students spend more time self-studying and preparing for tests and exams, which can leave them exhausted. As they learn more and more, they have to stay productive while making sure they have enough time for sleep, meals, studying, socializing, and relaxing. Notes, Flashcards, Reading textbooks, Guidebooks are already established habits but there are limited ways/options for students to maximize their study efficiency.In India, between the ages of 15 and 35, people spend an average of 3 hours per day on their mobile phones. Only 5% of the sessions on mobile devices last more than 10 minutes. Now it's possible to build an education platform that anyone can use anywhere with affordable devices and widely available Internet.
The traditional methods of exam preparation are often tedious, time-consuming, and overwhelming for students, leading to reduced productivity, motivation, and ultimately, performance. FlashPrep, a new alternative to exam prep for competitive exams by providing a solution that makes exam preparation more manageable, efficient, engaging, simple and delightful.
Research, identify user needs, design the experience from scratch - focusing on optimizing effective studying and solve for the disjointed experiences during the difficult & confusing journey of preparing for competitive exams by leveraging spaced repetition and bite-sized learning to improve efficiency and retention.
Interviews: During our research, we interviewed 30 students from different backgrounds, preparing for various competitive exams to examine - life of aspirants, identifying their needs, challenges and the factors that influence their behavior while preparing for any exam. We wanted answers to questions such as:
1. Why do they want to prepare for JEE/NEET or UPSC ?
2. Daily Life of a JEE/NEET/UPSC aspirants
3. What are the major challenges  faced while preparing?
4. What resources/online tools or apps you use to study?
5. Who/Where they reach out to for help?
My research applied to products from the field of e-learning, preferably with a focus on long term memory, challenge-based learning, study tools and analytics. And other products for building cumulative knowledge over long periods of time.

The breakdown and creation of competitive profiles (in terms of marketing strategy, target market, core business, usability, layout, navigation structure, compatibility, content, design and performance) together with SWOT analysis helped to assess current offerings

Also, general advantages and disadvantages of these platforms and the question of how e-learning could be integrated into the context of conventional school forms was an important part of the research.
We brought together our individual research data and created broad and high level themes into which the major challenges faced by the students feel under. The major themes were:
Individual learning types
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There are mainly four types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Learning is not a “one-size-fits-all” program; there are different types of learners and other study techniques and sources.
Access to relevant study material
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The tedious task of getting right material for exams, understanding it & regularly revising it. Aspirants seek a reliable source for regular updates & news about the exams.
Effective time management
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Aspirants are overwhelmed by their goals and find it difficult to stay on track. They need practical help in staying organised and effective time-management skills.
Disjointed experience & stress
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Preparation can’t be measured or tracked efficiently because aspirants use multiple books, study materials, channels, communities & tools. Managing class, notes, assessments & identifying weaknesses take place on different platforms.
A comprehensive list of user jobs across personas were framed personas were framed and stack ranked. This exercise laid the foundation for our MVP. This gave us diverse & comprehensive perspective as we charted out a plan for MVP.
AN EXAMPLE OF JOB-TO-BE-DONE for Aspirants to capture user jobs and needs
As an Aspirant
When I test my knowledge on a topic
I  want to evaluate my performance
So that I can know my
weak & strong points
Bucketing user jobs into the stages of the user journey
Value Prop, product onboarding.
Discover relevant study material, create Flashcards, challenges
Notes, Flashcards, Practice & Tests
Feed & tasks like recall flashcards, DPP, mock tests, etc
Monitor progress, Identify strengths and weaknesses
Create & manage collections of study material
User jobs from the Jobs-To-Be-Done exercises helped us see patterns and map out the user journey into broad buckets. For the MVP we ideated concepts under each of these buckets.
Designing for the user experience began from sketching out a typical user journey based on the specific tasks within the app. Once user journey was established, we began to unpack the design flow.
We focused on giving learners simple tools combined with learning research to help them master any subject they want to learn, anywhere they want to learn. All study modes support different & unique styles of learning (The VARK model of learning styles suggests that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.)
The motivation that badges provide is two-fold since they give users a personal sense of accomplishment while also serving as a status symbol that can be flaunted to other users.
We focused on giving learners simple tools combined with learning research to help them master any subject they want to learn, anywhere they want to learn. All study modes support different & unique styles of learning (The VARK model of learning styles suggests that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.)
FlashPrep automatically schedules the cards you are about to forget in your study plan. It takes the guesswork out of studying by creating a study plan and then guiding you through what and when to practice.
The main idea behind Study Plan is very simple: add what you want to learn, and by when? When it’s time to review, learners will get reminders to revise flashcards, gain ‘Power Flash’ with each review. Study Plan will breakdown material into small digestible pockets which can be used to study anywhere, anytime into the frame of a waking day.
It will help you fix the revision sessions that must occur at regular intervals before it getting lost from memory permanently.
Compensate for irregularities in revising flashcards that are bound to happen, with Daily Practice Problems & Test - based on your input & exam category.
Content Guideline - Split the knowledge into smallest possible question-answer items. We built CMS (internal tool) to enable creators create set of Flashcards, question bank (for Practice & Test) & collections.
We focused on giving learners simple tools combined with learning research to help them master any subject they want to learn, anywhere they want to learn. All study modes support different & unique styles of learning (The VARK model of learning styles suggests that there are four main types of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.)
Notes are the compressed version of flashcards for information overview and quick glance.The bookmark feature is made for users who want to save a note to be continued. It will also appear on the activity tab, so aspirants don’t have to worry about finding where it was left.
Traditionally, aspirants take several practice tests just to have a clearer idea of the questions that might be asked in the test. As a result, students place more focus on the exam rather than on learning in class, and they may end up getting highly stressed. For example, students who are poor-test takers but are otherwise smart may achieve low test scores that are not a accurate reflection of their aptitude.
Using a practice-based learning approach provides the opportunity for aspirants to show that they understand and can apply what they have learned. Practice tests offer multiple-choice, matching or true-false items, giving aspirants the opportunity to guess and practice tests measure a student's test-taking skills & recalling learned artifacts.
Traditional tests are usually timed, and rely on the student's ability to remember isolated facts that have been taken out of their original context. Tests helps in direct assessment which measures & provide documented evidence of performance improvements, skills or content mastery.
Accounts for what you learnt, time spent, what went wrong & what can be improved. It will document the activities taken by aspirants during the exam prep lifecycle.
Defining legends & establishing recall
  • Flashcards Reviewed
  • Practice & DPP attempted
  • Test attempted
  • Notes Bookmarked
  • Challenge
The sign-up process involves - about FlashPrep, topic selection and mobile verification. We followed a traditional way of signing up a user using mobile number.
V1 - Sign up/login and Onboarding
Those critical first moments of opening an app set the tone for the relationship between users and the app.
Focus was to remove any friction points
1. FlashPrep is a need that is not yet want.
2. If you love learning, problem solving, breaking records, or achieving milestones, chances are good that FlashPrep will do
the magic for you.
3. FlashPrep has an uncanny capacity to turn the monotony of memorizing into a stream of never-ending productive pleasures. FlashPrep is about planning exam goal to the last detail and staying productive during the course.
4. A few minutes of learning per day with our application is enough to memorize facts and information in less time than with classical methods. Thanks to this, aspirants can achieve their exam goals faster and more effectively!
1. It was a great learning experience building a product from scratch. There were so many discussions and rounds of iterations and learned a lot at every stage.
2. At times, it was challenging for me which also helped me understand how I work as a designer. It made me understand the importance of communication and how every team member has different strengths that I can learn from.
3. During this research process, I learned a lot from users - you are not the user. It turns out that what I have in mind, is not necessarily something the user needs.
4. Working with a multi-disciplinary team provided different insights and made the ideation process much more robust.
Points that are not covered in this case study but could be worth discussing in person:
1. Initial design concepts & iterations
2. Prototyping challenges
3. Experience mapping
4. Visual Design style guide
5. Research Challenges
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