Driving Test Score Increase with Comedy
When Kalyan Ray-Mazumder graduated from Yale in 2012, he wanted to work in two career paths: acting and education. He had studied Theater and Psychology in college and had always been fascinated by how performance had the power to influence individuals, change their minds, and improve their lives. Thus, he set out to New York City, with his eyes wide-open and his heart full of raw ambition. Within the next five years, his vision completely changed.
Although he performed Off-Broadway and saw some initial success in acting on television and film, he was beginning to hit against the obstacles that the media industry presented to an ethnic actor: his auditions for major network television shows were mainly to portray terrorists. These were stereotypes he strongly disagreed with, much less wanted to propagate himself. He found that as he was falling out of love with the storytelling in mainstream acting, he was falling more in love with the stories he was telling in education.
During the five years he spent acting, he was tutoring the SAT and ACT for over 5000 hours, having scored perfectly himself. He quickly saw that by bringing his background as an actor to engage students in the classroom, he was able to get them to realize that they were more capable than they ever knew they were before. So many of his students claimed not to be able to memorize the quadratic formula or punctuation rules, yet they always flawlessly rapped their favorite Drake song and quoted jokes from the latest Seth Rogen movie. Kalyan worked to change his curriculum to meet his students where they were: he put the grammar and math rules to raps and jokes. He found that his students not only memorized these rules but soon understood why they worked the way they did. Regardless of where they started, a majority of his students earned 95th+ percentiles on the English section and multiple students earned perfect scores on the test.
Across the socioeconomic spectrum, a higher SAT/ACT score was in many cases the key to unlocking the door to better college benefits such as a four-year degree over a two-year degree, more scholarship money, and a better education overall. Yet, because he was primarily working with students whose families could afford the thousands of dollars his former employer charged for his services, Kalyan worried that he was continuing to widen the achievement gap with his edutainment curriculum. He was determined to find a way to build a company that could democratize test prep access. He attended the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to get his MBA and build the company that is now Prepmedians, founded upon one principle of equity: All students deserve to laugh so they can learn.
Now, Prepmedians works with public high schools and nonprofits nationwide as well as students on an individual basis on Prepmedians.com. Prepmedians, the test prep comedians, empowers students to succeed on their SATs/ACTs by engaging them online at Prepmedians.com through highly effective sketch comedy and pop music videos. Think Khan Academy meets Saturday Night Live.
Prepmedians educates students by engaging them on the right channel. In fact, in a recent pilot study, students improved 2.5 times more with Prepmedians than with Khan Academy, considered by many to be the gold standard. The platform has statistically significant data showing a 6 percent immediate increase in quiz scores when students watch a video once. Finally, average entertainment scores across audiences of students are above a 4.5/5.
For Prepmedians, the ultimate goal is to continue to fuse education and entertainment together so that students find their curriculum culturally relevant. Kalyan wants to expand the library of skills into financial literacy, interpersonal skills, and many other academic subject areas. After all, through engagement comes empowerment.
Prepmedians, the test prep comedians, empowers students to succeed on their SATs and ACTs by engaging them online through highly effective sketch comedy and pop music videos.
Prepmedians is founded upon one principle of equity: All students deserve to laugh so that they learn. Students receive individual learning profiles with a safe-for-school curriculum tied to Common Core, SAT, and ACT standards and created by perfect-scoring/99th-percentile Ivy League grads with thousands of hours of tutoring experience. Educators receive dashboards to track student progress, optimize lessons using detailed analytics, and usher in tears of joy to the typically anxiety-ridden process of SAT prep.
The website is fully functional on all smart mobile devices, so students can access the self-paced, flexible curriculum at home even without a laptop or internet. Through their unlimited email/phone/videoconference support, they will train and collaborate with teachers to implement Prepmedians within their classroom, in an after-school SAT program, or as an engaging homework supplement.
This article was originally published by The Learning Counsel, a research institute and news media hub focused on providing context for the shift in education to digital curriculum.