It’s midnight and you have been cramming the whole day for that crucial exam tomorrow. If only you had found solutions to some important questions, you could have called it a day. But who do you turn to for help at this unearthly hour? How about asking your online community of friends? There are some online study sites which offer round-the-clock expert help from a large community of knowledgeable members.
Check out www.cramster. com. Based in Pasadena, California, Cramster offers step-by-step textbook solutions, question and answer help on message boards and practice tests. You can surf the site for help in 14 subjects. The subjects are predominantly science and maths-based and include algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, calculus, statistics and probability, advanced maths, physics, chemistry, biology, civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. However, I also found a few humanities and business subjects.
Get started on Cramster with a free registration. Browse for solutions either by subject or by authors, alphabetically listed. For maths alone, there are 4,47,097 textbook solutions from over 150 textbooks. So, if it’s algebra or trigonometry you are sure to find a fully explained answer to that nagging maths equation you have been trying to crack for a long time.
In case your textbook is not listed on the site, you can send a request for it to be featured or ask a question on the Q&A board. The Q&A board is an interesting link as this is where you can post any question regardless of the degree of difficulty or type of textbook. There is a quantitative Q&A board and a humanities board.
On a closer probe, I found a variety of questions with satisfactory answers that even a layperson like me could understand. On one hand if there were queries on business law then on the other hand there were questions on Sanskrit sentences. If you help answer other’s questions, you can earn “karma points”. The more points you get, the more questions you can ask daily.
Ever heard of an old adage that says two heads are better than one? Likewise you would agree that studying in a group facilitates better learning than studying alone. So, on Cramster you can do just that by joining a textbook or class-specific group. In these groups you can access lecture notes, class exams and other resources. The other feature that you must try is the practice quiz. Test yourself with a customised quiz.
Cramster also owns and operates the Facebook application Courses 2.0, which was voted the fourth best application by PC Magazine. This is a class schedule-sharing application where you can add details of your class schedule to your Facebook profile, see what courses your friends are taking and add dates of tests and events. It’s useful only if you have classmates as members.
The dream project of Aaron Hawkey, a UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) student, Cramster.com was launched in 2003 and has more than 1,20,000 active members today. Cramster connects you to educators, students and experts. The best part of the site is that it gives you step-by- step solutions, helping you solve the problems yourself. The site is easy to navigate and does not put too much emphasis on design and colours, keeping the basic ethos of a study portal.
Though the site helps save time and money with its novel features, it has come under criticism from educators. The main point of contention, which I agree with, is that it can make students lazy and result in spoon-feeding. As a student you will have to maintain the integrity of using it as a last resort for solutions and not to cheat for homework help. Further, the textbooks are predominantly for students in the US. But as topics in maths, science and humanities are universal, the site would benefit Indian students as well. As a free member, you get only limited access to their resources. But this shouldn’t deter you from checking out Cramster to solve some of your study woes. Till then, happy cramming. s