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Straight Up Conversation: Preparing 2 Million Students for High-Stakes Tests

Straight Up Conversation: Preparing 2 Million Students for High-Stakes Tests

Source: EdWeek

Chandra Pemmasani is the founder and CEO of Dallas-based UWorld, an online learning platform that helps prepare students for high-stakes exams like the MCAT, CPA, ACT, and SAT. Launched in 2003, UWorld has been used by more than 2 million students and professionals around the world. Prior to UWorld's launch, Chandra received his medical degree in India and taught at Johns Hopkins University/Sinai Hospital. I recently talked with Chandra about how UWorld addresses the challenges of high-stakes testing.

— Rick Hess

Rick: So, what exactly is UWorld?

Chandra: UWorld is a resource for students seeking quality online learning tools as they embark on their quest to reach their target score on high-stakes exams. Whether students are preparing for the MCAT, CPA, ACT, SAT, or AP exams, we ensure that students and professionals achieve success by using active learning methods. We provide challenging practice questions that mirror the real tests and clear explanations of the rationale behind each answer. 

Rick: How did UWorld get started?

Chandra: When I came to the U.S. for my medical residency, I borrowed thousands of dollars for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) prep materials. Even so, I didn't find them highly beneficial to achieve my target score. The test-prep resources I found offered a passive approach to learning, and I knew that mastering a subject required active learning. Walking out of the exam room, I knew there was a better way to learn and prepare for these exams. 

Since several of my colleagues were in the same position, I decided to write 200 pages of case-based scenarios that would help students prepare for the USMLE. I sent the guide to several publishers, but they told me to come back when I had finished my medical training. Instead of waiting, I decided to put it online myself. With the help of some of the people closest to me, I began UWorld out of my dorm room. By the end of my residency, UWorld had made somewhere in the area of $250,000. We then launched a very successful nursing-licensure prep program, things started booming, and I realized that UWorld required my full-time attention.

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