James Cartmell - My Studytracks - Discovery

Studytracks was always different from inception and whilst building and then launching it to the world, there was a palpable urge to have the app make a real difference, not jut to be a good idea, but a great one. Studying with music as a real study aid, produced to hack how our brains work, delivering a way to consume information in a easy and convenient way with better recollection and retention. That was what we knew would happen, but when you hook a 'first adopter' and they start feeding back - that's where the real magic starts in Ed Tech.

James was one of the first students to see and acknowledge the Studytracks app through our nascent social channels before we even launched. He was always courteous when messaging through DM's in Instagram but was obviously keen for us to launch and wanted to know more about what we had planned. He was the first person to download Studytracks V1.

After a while we got to know James better as he was an Ed Tech app makers dream - happy to feedback positive and negative information whilst being completely constructive about where we might change things and how the app was working for him. He was one of the best testers we had as he was living the GCSE life and about to take his exams.

After he got his (amazing) GCSE results we asked him if he would document his journey from downloading to using the app so others could learn from how it worked for him. He agreed to write some blogs for us and below is the first of eight.

old school study books

 

This is the first of eight blogs where I am going to talk about my Studytracks journey, how I integrated Studytracks within my revision and how I have become more involved with it over the last few months and I will be reviewing the new material as it is updated week by week. 

In early January 2016 I first found Studytracks whilst on my phone looking for some inspiration. The Studytracks Instagram page popped up on my suggestions saying “study anywhere and everywhere, even with your eyes closed #HackRevision”. I scrolled through their feed reading statements like “Lose the desk, revise wherever and whenever.” It initially seemed like this app was too good to be true, but soon it became exactly what I needed! I sent them a quick Instagram message and they told me I could be one of the first people to download it so I went to the app store eager to download it. I felt excited and intrigued to discover what this new ‘alien’ revision app would be like. Not an app simply to track your studying, rather an innovative approach to learning that claims to teach you the syllabus through music. It felt odd to be potentially putting my trust in an app that had no reviews at all, an app that hadn’t even been officially released yet, but I am an early adopter.

At launch there were just four GCSE subjects available - Biology, Chemistry, Physics and History. I clicked on History as at school, I found this subject dull, dry and a challenge to commit to memory; it would be a good test! The History syllabus was broken down into tracks for each topic. The songs were catchy, rhythmic and (you guessed it) all about history GCSE. The League of Nations, The Great Depression, The Versailles Treaty… a track for each of them and more besides. All the important topics within a subject are covered. 

This app certainly didn't seem to be a half-hearted attempt at something new. The amount of research and hard work put into making an app as good as this really surprised me. 

You may not believe who they’ve got to sing some of these tracks but if any sceptics are tempted to think Studytracks could never create a Mathematics section then think again. The day I saw a new subject (maths) notification on the app my initial reaction was “No way,” but the whole mathematics section is sung by Thomas Jules, the lead vocalist of Rudimental when they play live. Many of you will be familiar with learning times tables to a beat in junior school, but Studytracks takes this idea to a whole new level. Straight line graphs, the seven rules of indices and trigonometry raps are just a few great examples.

My favourite track early on was ‘The Nervous System” as it is packed full of information and I found this the hardest topic in my Biology GCSE, but this single 3 minute track helped me hugely. It has a wacky “western” background track whilst going through the all the five different sense organs, receptors and their purposes, the whole reaction process and all the definitions you need to know for the exam. The track repeats this information through the song and it only took a couple of plays until I knew it. The track helped me overcome that topic in Biology which I not only found the hardest to commit to memory but also the hardest to comprehend.

The songs are contemporary and catchy and they have a strong beat plus just the right combination of lyrics (content) and background music which is vital for the music to feel balanced and sound just right.

In the new app - launching very soon there are many more subjects covered by Studytracks for both GCSE, SAT's and AS Level with A-Level coming soon. Can Studytracks help you get the grade you think is beyond your reach? Only one way to find out…

 

George Hammond-Hagan