App maker: Don’t just play on your smartphone–study, too

Watermelon Express apps range from around $9 to $50 for the company’s Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) app. The app gives students progress reports detailing their improvement in test taking and a scoreboard feature that lets students see how they fare compared to other students using Watermelon Express.

Apps for the “more high-stakes” exams such as the LSAT – Law School Admission Test – and the GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test – are more widely used than the SAT app, Rangnekar said.

“Students realize that these tests will have a huge impact on the rest of their lives,” he said.

More than 75,000 students in 20 countries use the apps, according to the company, and students can access their Watermelon Express questions on any compatible device, meaning a student could begin a practice exam on her iPhone, go to class, and finish the test later on her home computer.

Watermelon Express operates on seed money from cofounders of Groupon, a website that lists local shopping deals in major metro regions. Rangnekar said he couldn’t disclose how much funding Groupon officials provided.

Watermelon Express was among 10 companies featured by the Venture Capital in Education Summit in New York last May, and the company was recognized as an “education innovation pioneer” at the SkySong Education Innovation Summit last year.

There’s little concern about the penetration of web-accessible smartphones among college students today, Rangnekar said, but many students whose lives revolve around their mobile devices remain unaware of the phone’s educational potential.

“I’m not fully convinced that most of these users know that there are educational tools available on their phone,” he said. “That’s why the bigger concern for me is discoverability – knowing what’s out there for them to use.”