Figures add up for exam preparation website
Start-up Nation: mocks.ie:After discovering large numbers of students were failing various Junior and Leaving Certificate subjects, brother and sister team Eoghain and Ailish Ryan decided to create an online preparation service to help students revise and study remotely, monitor their progress and improve their results in the run-up to State examinations.
The duo founded the Mocks.iewebsite in 2009, and it has since become one of the largest learning resources for students in Ireland.
“We heard a statistic that 5,000 students fail ordinary level maths. My sister commented there should be other opportunities for students to practice exams on top of the mocks.”
At the time the duo were running an engineering consultancy business but decided to turn their attention to the education sector, with the downturn bringing them less work.
“We initially looked at the market and saw the grinds market was worth a fortune, between €35 million and €50 million a year. Some 75 per cent of students get grinds in one subject or more according to the statistics,” Eoghain says.
They developed the Mocks.iesite, which provides an exam correction and feedback service corrected by State examiners, an oral examination service, online aural and multiple choice questions, all of which can be accessed virtually, with prices starting from €2.
The site receives approximately 2,000 hits a day, increasing to between 15,000 and 20,000 a day around exam time, according to Eoghain.
On the day of the Leaving Certificate results last year, more than 5,500 students logged on, while it attracted 4,500 students on the day the examination timetable was published.
The site also provides study guides, exam tips, college entry requirements, course information, career guidance tests, past exam papers, a points calculator and revision notes.
Ailish and Eoghain enlisted the help of two students who achieved As in their Leaving Cert to develop comprehensive study notes for second-level students.
Students can sit practice papers on the site, submit their answers and receive results and feedback. They can also partake in interactive revision answering multiple choice questions on a particular subject.
“Students tend to migrate away to social media unless their online revision is interactive. As it is unsupervised they can be easily distracted by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc, if they are not kept engaged and interacting,” says Eoghain.
They duo launched a Mocks.ieapp which allows students to practice aural exams whenever and wherever they like, and get instant results.
The app is free to download but students pay for revision notes. The new app has achieved 18,000 downloads, while some 23,000 students downloaded the old one.
“We have kept the app free to build up traction/an audience. We have the largest numbers of downloads in the Irish education sector.
We make money from selling mock papers to schools and through the correction of those papers. We also charge for practice oral and aural exams and past papers.
“There were only two other companies doing mock papers. We are the only one with an online presence.”
The business is also achieving advertising revenue now from traction on the site.
“Last year was our first year in profit and we expect it to grow extensively this year.”
Eoghain says they are now looking to other markets including the UK, as there is presently no similar business there.
“We’d like to be a lot bigger entity than we currently are. We don’t have an open cheque book and it’s very hard to get finance. That’s why we are not in the UK market already.
“If we seek investment it will be because they can bring a lot to the table and open up new markets for us. We don’t want money for the sake of money.”