Q and A: UCS Hampstead student, 17, creates app to help fellow pupils struggling with GCSEs revision
PUBLISHED: 16:06 11 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:06 11 April 2017
An app creator at the age of 17, we spoke to UCS Hampstead student Jonny Boone about why he took it upon himself to help fellow pupils with revision for their GCSE exams.
What was it about the process of revising for your GCSEs that you found tedious?
The first thing about revising is that the preparation is a whole labour in itself. For each subject a student needs one or two revision guides, a practice workbook, the corresponding specification, a computer, the file and notepad, a pencil case, and most importantly an array of practice past papers. It takes a significant period of time to get all this set up, and it’s incredibly easy to get distracted and procrastinate. I myself revised abroad on holiday, and needed an extra suitcase just to bring the revision material. Of course there’s also a level of discipline, or otherwise motivation needed to get revising in the first place, and the preparation – as mentioned above – is a long process which discourages a student quickly. The actual studying typically involves making notes, or writing out lengthy answers and checking the mark schemes - this takes a long time, and the bore of it leaves students susceptible to distractions. It seems so obvious that someone would have created a method of making something so necessary more engaging. The idea of using an app or computer program for revision was not only a method of studying on-the-go, but cuts out the middle man of preparation and motivation.
How arduous was the process of creating the app, and how rewarding was it when the process was finished?
It was certainly a long process, and rewarding for sure. My father was a huge help, and all ideas were passed through him. I thought of learning how to code and develop the app myself, but figured that it would be impossible, especially with the GCSEs looming – in the end it took a co-ordinated team of six or seven professionals. We contacted several tutor agencies to find tutors to write the questions. This was surprisingly difficult, and took a month, but we ended up with a really fantastic tutor who finished the questions within a month. The most arduous process without a doubt was entering questions into the program. I had more than 200 tests to enter – each taking half an hour – and would spend 10 hour days during the half term and weekends entering these. Then we had to check for grammatical errors, which took almost five months. There was definitely a sense of accomplishment when it was finally released, but it felt more like a shift in focus from development to marketing. It has certainly been more enjoyable since the release, but I wouldn’t say that there is any less work.
What makes your app fun and unique to the user?
The lack of quality revision apps seemed like a clear gap in the market, and this is what motivated me to create my own. We started with the core goal of creating something genuinely fun, but also wanted to make sure it excels in every aspect of a test-based revision app. The idea of Temple is for students to build an immense temple throughout their studies. As they revise and complete mini-tests, they build their temples (for their respective subjects) and their overall landscape. Four weeks later, that mini-test would have to be re-done to instil the knowledge into long-term memory. This whole idea was to create a sense of engagement – something other apps lacked. We support eight different question types (so students can feel just as well prepared for one markers as eight markers), and made sure that these questions covered every corner of the syllabus so that students can feel confident they’ll get an A* if they can answer each and every question. As well as this, the functionality and smoothness of the app is of the highest quality.
How well has it been received? Do GCSE students at your school use it? What was the reaction of your teachers?
It’s been received very well so far – the reviews left so far have been overwhelmingly positive, and although there are certainly improvements to be made, the only complaint we have received as of yet is that we only support three subjects. We plan to boost the app massively over the summer, doubling the subject base and improving in particular the answer section. We have accumulated more than a thousand users, and hopefully can grow this far more as the GCSEs arrive. I’m not sure exactly how many students at UCS use it, but it is between 50 and 100. I had a huge amount of help from our deputy head, Mark English, throughout the process, and he describes it all as ‘very impressive’. Most teachers are interested in exactly how the app works, and seem curious as to how it was created.
You can download Temple for yourself by visiting templegcse.com.