Having studied from a local school in Patna, Imbesat Ahmad knows the struggle of not having the right guidance. While he did manage to get admission into IIT Kharagpur, the thought of not studying at MIT bothers him to this date.
He had no idea about SATs until he completed his plus 2. The competitive examination seemed easy to crack, but it was too late by the time he figured it out.
Rather than just complain, he decided to help solve the problem himself. Imbesat started mentoring higher secondary and undergraduate students who wish to appear for competitive examinations in India and abroad after his graduation in 2015.
From conflict-ridden Kashmir to Naxal-affected areas in Maharashtra, Imbesat travels in various states and conducts guidance workshops with government and non-governmental organisations.
In all these workshops, a common element he discovered was that students were not able to understand concepts or solve questions while studying in class. They either would have to wait for their next class or get the doubts cleared online. With so many educational resources online, they were either further confused or did not find an answer specific to their query.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated such problems as many educational online resources developed during the pandemic come with subscription fees, and not all students can afford them.
Realising the dire need to have guidance especially at a time when the future of competitive examinations is uncertain, Imbesat has launched an app called ‘Filo’ along with his batchmate, Salman Shahid and his IIT-Delhi counterpart Shadman Anwer.
The app, which is currently available on android phones, directly connects students with experts to solve doubts in real-time for free.
“The app is for JEE/NEET aspirants and class 11-12 students of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. The app is built in a way that a student can video call, and only the tutor’s screen will be seen, thus maintaining privacy. There is no limit on time and the number of questions asked. Our expert team consists of undergrads from institutions like IITs, NITs, Medical colleges and some professionals,” Imbesat tells The Better India.
Former Director of IIT-Kharagpur, Partha Chakrabarti and Ministry of Education had shared the details of Filo post its launch that helped Imbesat get many users and tutors within a week.
The app was launched on 28 August, and since then there have more than a thousand downloads and 50,000 minutes of sessions. Imbesat mentions that daily there are 300-500 calls.
How Filo Works With Doubts
After a student downloads the app, he/she has to make an account by logging in.
The student has to choose the subject and then either take a picture of the doubt or type the question in the box and submit. Meanwhile, the tutors who have registered on the app have to mark themselves online to receive the doubts.
“It takes around five minutes to allot the available tutor, and then he/she can take forward all the queries. We have more than 600 registered tutors so, at any given point in the day, there will be at least 4-5 tutors online. If the query remains unanswered, then it will be allocated to a tutor as soon as he/she gets free. We have designed the app in a way that works completely fine on 2g networks also and in case if the internet completely goes off, then the call will not be cut. It will say ‘reconnecting’ until the net comes just like the Whatsapp calling feature,” explains Imbesat.
“I wanted to help students clear their accumulated doubts on Physics. I am currently studying at IIT Kharagpur but as I was also a part of JEE preparation once so I know the kind of negative impact one’s uncleared doubt can have on the final performance in competitive exams like JEE. The satisfaction I get on clearing doubt of my juniors is unmatchable,” says Sneh Bandhu Singh, who has completed over 5,200 minutes of sessions.
Besides, the real time-solving feature, a user can also avail counselling sessions on preparation strategy and time management from the mentors.
“I started using Filo when one of my tuition mates recommended it to me because I’d incessantly cry about how science will be the end of me. My experience with Filo has been fruitful as one night I was sitting and practising indefinite integrals, a math chapter. Even at that odd hour, I was able to get my doubts resolved with quality help. In my second session, I learnt about a few concepts of organic chemistry in a simplified manner considering the subject is like a maze to me,” Divesh Goyal, a user from Kolkata tells The Better India.
Seeing the overwhelming response, Imbesat and his team are currently working on integrating science and math subjects for class 9 and 10. Additionally, they also plan to help users get guidance on appearing for state government job exams in future.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)