Education report finds increased interest in study tools for MCAT, nursing degrees and tech certifications during COVID-19 pandemic

Amazon Web Services certification studying increased by 88% year-over-year in 2020 and Microsoft certification studying increased by 34% year-over-year in 2020, according to Quizlet.

Educational platform Quizlet released a new report based on data collected from their users in June and analyzed by Quizlet's data analytics team. The report tracked how students' career plans and study habits changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The company saw increased online studying in the Fall of 2020 and in the US, high school students on Quizlet used the platform at 107% of pre-pandemic levels on average. Other countries saw similarly large jumps in usage, including 271% in France, 178% in Japan, 134% in Singapore, 146 in the UK and 118% in South Korea. 

Some states within the US went back to pre-COVID levels of usage on Quizlet in the fall because of a return to in-person learning. States like Florida, Georgia and Texas all returned to pre-COVID levels and even higher in some cases.

Quizlet's data analytics team also noted that there was a steep increase in certifications for tech and infotech. CompTIA specifically saw a 44% increase in studying year-over-year from 2019 to 2020 and ballooned this spring by 75%, according to the report

"Amazon Web Services certification studying increased by 88% year-over-year in 2020, and Microsoft certification studying increased by 34% year-over-year in 2020, both remaining at about these levels, respectively, as of early 2021," the report added. 

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The report also found startling increases in the number of students studying for medical school and exams including the MCAT, NCLEX, Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI), and Infection Control certification.

Tests related to MCAT exams saw a 65% year-over-year increase in interest in June 2020 compared to previous years where year-over-year growth averaged around 8.6%. Spring 2021 saw similarly large year-over-year increases in MCAT testing usage. 

The numbers were high for nursing exam studying tools in both 2020 and 2021, according to the report, which found a 61% year-over-year increase in NCLEX studying in Spring 2020 and a 90% increase in Spring 2021. The Health Education Systems Incorporated exam tools saw 59% year-over-year increase in usage in Spring 2021. 

There was also a 56% jump in Spring 2020 for Infection Control certification testing tools in 2020. 

There were similar bumps in use for GMAT and GRE studying tools in 2020 but surprisingly the numbers fell sharply in Spring 2021.

Quizlet's data analytics team also saw troubling statistics related to how students in different income backgrounds were affected by the pandemic. Before COVID-19, students from the lowest and highest income regions studied an equal amount online on average. 

But when schools were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, students in low income regions studied far less frequently, and digging a bit deeper into the data, Quizlet's data analytics team listed a few reasons why. 

Students living in wealthier areas accessed Quizlet from desktops and laptops while students from less wealthy regions accessed Quizlet more through mobile devices, making it more difficult to navigate. 

"When we visited the data for the 2020-2021 school year, we saw that remote learning continued to have disproportionate effects on high school students across low income regions. According to our data, we saw continued differences in usage of desktops and laptops vs. mobile devices in different income areas," the research team said. 

"During the academic year, 75% to upwards of 80% of studying occurred on desktops or laptops for students in higher income regions averaging $100k+. However, students in lower income regions of $0- $50k remained around 63%, peaking at 67% of desktop or laptop usage and have continued to rely on cell phones and tablets for learning."

Quizlet also saw significant bumps in studying on weekends since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a nearly 40% average increase in usage on weekends from high school students and almost 50% increase for students in higher education. 

More teachers are also turning to Quizlet as a way to educate students and some are even using a new TikTok integration that debuted this year. There have been more than 15.7 million video views so far, according to the report.