CAT Preparation: How to choose the right coaching class?

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Our earlier two articles tried to give you an idea about CAT preparation. One article (CAT Preparation: Do you need a coaching center?) tried to help you decide whether you need external help in terms of coaching center for your CAT preparation and the other (CAT Preparation: Should you choose online coaching class?) gave you the insight on the benefits of choosing online coaching over offline coaching, if you decided to opt for one. If you decided that you’ll need a coaching center help for your CAT preparation, then this article is for you. It will help you in choosing the right coaching center for you. This article describes the factor you should consider when choosing a right coaching center for maximum output from your CAT exam. While individual requirement may vary following are general factors one should keep in mind when shopping for a CAT coaching center.

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Trial Period

The whole purpose of enrolling in an online coaching class is to help you prepare for your exams at your comfort. So, if you’re not comfortable with the style, content, faculty or the teaching methodologies of the class, you’re not gaining anything, in fact, are losing your valuable time. So, it’s always preferable to ask for a trial period. Commonly called as demo classes, the aim of the trial period for you is to try out these classes and choose that best that fits your learning requirements. Even better if you ask for more than one demo class or a prolonged trial period.

Educators

The most important factor deciding to opt for a particular coaching class is to analyze the competency of its educators or faculties who will be teaching you. Not only that, you’ll have to research about their educational qualification, their professional experience and their achievement which makes them better equipped to teach the subject content but you’ll also have to analyze their teaching style, their willingness to go extra miles if needed to help you better understand the content, their motivation, and enthusiasm. A better teacher can drastically change your outcome.

Evaluation of the Past

Gather all the historical data available for their past performances. Your aim is not to see how well they did on their previous exams but also to see the patterns. If an institution claims for a very high performance for last year or two but previous years don’t match up to their claim, chances are they might have gotten lucky for that year. Also, consistency is the key, opt for a coaching class that has performed consistently even that means a year or two of low performances over the institution that has performed well in last year or two but can’t support it consistently. Sometimes the past data can give you much more insights, for example, some institution might be very good at a certain aspect of syllabus while lagging in other, choose an institution which is strong in the area where you’re weak.

Resources

Evaluate the availability of the resources. Check if the resources are available to you anytime you need regardless of its demand. The resources must be sufficient for all the students enrolled in that institute, because the closer it gets to the exams, the higher the demand will be and it will be crucial for the students to get access to the material. The mock test should be available to you as many times as you needed.

Another factor to consider in resources is not only the availability but quality also. Make sure the resources they’re providing are updated with current exam patterns and holds value rather than just being a showcase item in the list of resources provided. Check extensively and periodically, compare it with other and try to judge not only with respect to the value they hold for a better outcome in the exam but also its ability to help you better understand the content itself.

Peer Review

The best judge of a coaching class will be other students who’ve gone through the same experiences and process that you’re going through right now. Ask around, do your research. It is considered a safe bet to opt for a reputed brand name since chances are that they have a good reputation for a reason. But again, in the era of digital marketing, you don’t want to give greater importance to online reviews as much. Evaluate the review and reviewer both, try to find more information about the institution too. Nothing wrong with going with little-known institution, if their performance consistency, faculty, content and teaching style impresses you, for example, Handa Ka Funda might not be considered as top most brand but because of its quality offerings more than 15, 000 students from more than 100 cities have chosen them instead of top brands for CAT coaching.. In the absence of time for more research, most students end up opting for reputed brand names though.

 

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And Finally, it’s you, who have to study there for an extensive period of time and it you who are the best judge of your learning requirement and comfort, so you should be able to judge best the institution that fulfills all your requirements and makes you most comfortable for the study. Don’t opt for herd mentality and don’t follow blindly to your friends, choose the one that suits best to your requirements.

CAT Preparation: Should you choose online coaching class?

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While our last article (CAT Preparation: Do you need a coaching center?) discussed the importance of a coaching center in your preparation for the competitive exams, this article will be discussing the advantages of online coaching provides over brick and mortar coaching centers which commonly referred to as offline coaching centers.

 

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Our earlier article (Will Online Coaching bring disruption in the test preparation market of India?) discussed how online coaching is rapidly eating the larger share of education in general with the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass $102.8 billion by 2018 for which India alone, has had a record growth of almost 35% in the last five-six years and is likely to touch $70 billion by 2017. From getting shunned by not only experts but also from users to taking the largest share of the education market, online test preparation has come a long way and rightfully so with its many distinctive benefits over offline coaching.

 

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Flexibility

It gives students the much-needed flexibility to study at their own pace at their own convenience at any time they want. It also allows students to revisit the content as many time as they need. The content can be downloaded and be available later for collaborative study with peers

 

Cost effectiveness

 

Online coaching tends to be less expensive compared to offline coaching. According to Ravi Handa from Handa ka Funda – an online competitive exam preparation platform, typically a CAT preparation course offline would cost around Rs. 30,000 – Rs. 40, 000 while the most expensive course for CAT preparation at Handa ka Funda is around Rs. 5500. The same reduced pricing is with almost all other online coaching providers. Also, the cost of commute and if the aspirant is non-resident of the city that provides such coaching, the additional accommodation expense should be factored in too.

 

Relevance – updated course material

 

Since the study material that is kept and distributed online is faster, easier and more convenient to edit/update anytime and anywhere, there is a greater possibility that it will be updated regularly and promptly for the required changes. Online course materials offer instant correction opportunities while the offline printed materials take much longer time to be corrected/updated and distributed.

 

Commute

 

One of the most significant and mostly neglected advantages of online education is the removed need for commute just to attend a study session. This is of greater importance for the CAT aspirants since most of them are probably working while preparing for the exams. Online coaching wouldn’t require you to commute from one place to another as you can take the class on your computer from anywhere in the world.  Other than removing the tedious need of commute in city traffic, another advantage online coaching offers is not having to miss the session on account of bad weather.

 

 

Convivence and comfort

 

When an aspirant enrolls in online coaching, they get an opportunity to plan their study according to their own daily schedule and their other commitments instead of their having to schedule their entire day around that particular class they have to attend. Access to the learning at the familiar home in comfortable cloth or comfortable sitting position are just some other benefits that add to convince and comfort of learning.

 

 

Resources

 

Not only online coaching can practically provide larger resource pool for the exam that can be accessed anytime from anywhere compare to the limitation of physical coaching resources and the limitation of its accessibility; it also provides the access to the reservoir of old classes which can be revisited anytime for a fresh up of the content if need arises.

 

Learning Environment

 

The learning environment has a greater effect on the outcome. And, the requirements of certain learning environment vary individually. Some like to study in a café full of people with noise and other like to study in a silent room alone, some like to study while listening to music and some like to study with peers. While offline education limits the access of certain environment, online education gives complete freedom to choose not only the environment but also the time and the conditions that suit best to the individual.

 

Better outcome

 

The absolute freedom in choosing time, environment, condition and pace of learning enables the learner to be much more focused on study compare to the offline learning where the learner has to be present at a specified time regardless of their preparedness. The access to material and classes for repeated view also helps understand the material better and thus, achieve a better outcome.

 

 

 

Although online learning provides great benefit, ultimately it comes down to individual comfort and adaptiveness. If a student feels that the physical interaction between trainer and them would provide greater support for their education, it’s best for them to choose offline coaching center after carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both for individual needs.

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written by Krunal Sagan, co-founder of Epecate and founder of Starstuff Management Consultancy Follow him on Twitter @krunalsagan

CAT Preparation: Do you need a coaching center?

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Our earlier article (Will Online Coaching bring disruption in the test preparation market of India?) which studied the disruption that online coaching brings to traditional coaching provided a fair insight into the growing educational needs of India. One of the most prominent trends which we can see from that article is the higher demand of good education in India which resulted in increased government spending on education. Another result of this higher demand of education is the increased demand and thus market share of online coaching of test preparation in India. We saw that India’s test preparation market is estimated at Rs.378 Billion and growing at a CAGR of 14% since 2008-2009 and has grown at an unprecedented CAGR of 17.8% during the period FY’2010-FY’2015.

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Now, with this rising demand in test preparation market and increased number of institutions offering these coaching facilities, students often have a dilemma of whether to join a coaching for their test preparation or self-study. For the sake of simplicity, we in this article will try to evaluate this dilemma in the context of CAT preparation. You could evaluate any kind of test preparation keeping this framework as a reference.

When you’re exploring the option to study for certain exams it’s very important to evaluate the exam itself first.  For Instance, CAT is one of the most coveted tests in India after may be JEE.  CAT in 2017 will be held by IIM Lucknow in December and the application forms will be available after next week.  The exam itself is going to be highly competitive since approximately 2,00,000 students will compete for around 4000 seats of management courses in prestigious management schools in India. With such a high competition, it is extremely important to score higher rank in order to make it to a good B-School.

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While experts and toppers suggest that coaching and mentorship surely help in your CAT preparation, the main aspect of success in CAT or any test for that matter attributes to a highly disciplined, self-study plan, provided you understand and cope with the syllabus easily.  Evidently, it is also better to have a coach for your preparation as it will surely help you in many areas that you may miss when you are on your own.

  • Domain Expertise

Coaching team/trainer will have years of experience with the same kind of exams. They know every little detail there is to know about the exams, the exam pattern and syllabus to cover. They have experience with assisting a large number of students with different learning capabilities for the same exam you’re preparing for, which helps them understand your learning requirements and can assist you to create a study plan at the micro level for best possible outcome. For example, Handa ka Funda – an online CAT coaching center has helped more than 15,000 students from more than 100 cities. This kind of expertise helps them identify individual needs or different learning requirements and the best approached to meet these requirements for best outcomes in competitive exams.

  • Learning Resources

One of the benefits of enrolling in a coaching center is the customized and categorized study material they provide you with for the test preparation in addition to “how to study” kind of guides to assist you with the study itself. Another biggest benefit is that typically coaching centers have a larger repository of books, sample test papers, study materials, and newspapers – magazines which an individual cannot afford to have access to.

  • Practice and Stimulation

Once you’re comfortable with your study and basic preparation, the most important factor would be to practice the exam regularly. These coaching centers are best suited for the mock test and exam simulations. Having been engaged with many students for many such exams, they understand the exam pattern best to create a similar experience for you and assist you with the mock test before the actual exams. Another great aspect of coaching center giving you mock test is that you’ll never have the scarcity of exams to practice since they will most likely have a large repository of these practice mock exams.

  • Peer Learning

One of the most efficient ways of preparing for competitive exams is peer learning or group study. A group of like-minded people with the same goal will ensure that you’re on the correct path. And, the best way to form a group of such people will be coaching center, since the people enrolled in coaching center are highly motivated with a single goal of ensuring their success in the competitive exams. The study group can discuss problems, syllabus, best practices, queries and confusions in addition to practicing mock test together for better analysis of results and tests itself during the practice of mock tests.

  • Support Group

A good coaching center not only provides you the realistic feedback and constructive criticism but also provides you constant support throughout your preparation. There is someone constantly pushing you hard to overcome your limits. They provide constant support, motivation, and guidance when your self-confidence is low and show you the realistic mirror when you’re overconfident. Both of which are the highly likely scenario of your test preparation.

Even with the greater benefits of enrolling to a coaching for competitive exam preparation, the necessity of enrolling in one varies from person to person. One can get the study materials online but if they don’t know how to best use it for the maximum output, or one is lacking in required self-discipline or if one has limited resources for the study itself, it’s always advisable to opt for a good test preparation coaching center.

 

 

This article was written by Krunal Sagan, co-founder of Epecate and founder of Starstuff Management Consultancy Follow him on Twitter @krunalsagan

Will Online Coaching bring disruption in the test preparation market of India?

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With over a billion of the population and rapidly growing middle class which puts greater emphasis on education, it’s hardly a surprise that students in India face tremendous competition for getting admission into a good school for higher studies. India’s formal education which covers K-12 and higher education, up to post-graduation is subjected to high levels of regulation compared to informal education providers in India. The number of formal education institutions is limited (approximately 700 Universities – including state, central, private and deemed universities) considering that they cater to 30 million students every year in India and the number of students seeking higher education is expected to increase by 14 million in next three years.

 

The effect of an increase in demand for higher education can be seen in increased government spending on education. The Center’s spending on education has increased at a 17% CAGR over the decade. India’s education budget saw a sharp increase of 4.8% in a year to be Rs. 723.94 Billion a year in 2016-2017 from Rs. 690.74 Billion of the previous year.

 

While the government is trying to match higher education demands by increasing the budget, an informal education sector, enjoying the less regulation, is rapidly growing by providing the necessary support for excellent education. This informal sector is mainly made up of pre-schools, coaching (including test prep), vocational and skills training, e-learning and academic publishing.

 

Having to face the enormous competition to get in a reputed higher education institution combined with the complexity of entrance exams and social stigma of getting higher marks in Indian education system forces most students to opt for external test preparation. In addition to the rising disposable incomes, increased spending on education and growing numbers of nuclear families, along with factors such as rising share of private institutions and enrollments, few quality educational institutions, high competition for limited seats in quality institutes have driven the growth of coaching industry. The most important trend of this educational shift is seen by the adoption of online platform in teaching and test preparing. Competitive exams like CAT, IIT-JEE etc. are being held online which has paved a way for online content, ebook, interactive study materials and online test preparation.

 

The reflection of which can be seen in the test preparation market. India’s test preparation market is estimated at Rs.378 Billion and growing at a CAGR of 14% since 2008-2009 and has grown at an unprecedented CAGR of 17.8% during the period FY’2010-FY’2015 which is expected to outperform the overall test preparation market growth in next 5 years. This increase can be seen in test preparation institution from non-metro cities too. Handa ka funda – based out of Jaipur, Rajasthan – is such an online test preparation platform that offers CAT coaching. Started in 2009 as video content provider, Handa ka Funda has served more than 10, 000 students from more than 50 cities across India.  Apart from the most obvious reason – quality education- Preference towards e-learning modules and online mock exams are the reasons for rising market revenue of online test preparation segment which is expected to have around 19% share in the total market by FY’2020.

 

Students are seeing quite a few benefits of online test preparing.

 

  • Anytime: It gives students the much-needed flexibility to study at their own pace at their own convenience at any time they want. It also allows students to revisit the content as many time as they need. The content can be downloaded and be available later for collaborative study with peers

 

  • Anywhere: Much needed relief in student life – to not be present at a certain place at the certain time to study – is one of the most important benefits of online learning. With online learning, the coaching is available to remote areas where students don’t have access to training such as CAT preparations

 

  • Anyone: Students from small town or students with limited means benefits more from online classes since online classes are relatively cheaper than brick-and-mortar classes and they remove the need of moving to bigger cities for certain education.

 

With its benefits over offline coaching and lucrative financial gains, online test preparation is bound to attract competition from large companies with unlimited resources. It would be vital for start-ups like Handakafunda to focus on effective marketing strategies including but not limited to providing free mock exams, discounted rate renewal of existing membership, discounted rates on combination / specific courses, infomercials in trade journals and webinars in addition to digital marketing activities. One of the ways they can differentiate is by providing quality certification to the students. Nonetheless, even with its limitation like language, infrastructure requirement and lack of personal touch, it’s absolutely obvious that online test preparation is going to play a greater role in Indian Higher Education.

 

 

This article was written by Krunal Sagan, co-founder of Epecate and founder of Starstuff Management Consultancy Follow him on Twitter @krunalsagan

Online Education vs. offline education: Who’ll be the winner?

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It isn’t a secret anymore that the market of online education is growing fast all over the world and India isn’t left behind. With more than one million registered learners, India is the second biggest source of learners in coursera. The e-learning market in India itself is estimated around $3Billion and is expected to grow by $40 Billion. In fact, Indian students’ enthusiasm towards online learning can be seen from the data released by Harvard-MIT about their online courses. This Person-Course De-Identified dataset contained 641,138 events, chronicling 476,532 students who have taken up to 13 unique courses from a variety of topics. According to which, Indians were the largest group of nationals registered in Harvard and MIT online courses only second to the USA.

 

 

It is not surprising that considering its population and accessibility of material, it ranks top as a nation of students taking more than one classes.

 

India is a country where one could experience total opposite sides of the spectrum, at one side you could see people might not have the availability of drinking water but at the same time it is the country with highest internet users in the world.  When you mix world’s largest young population in a fast-developing country with higher unemployment and tough competition, you get students who embrace any opportunity that makes them apart from the competition with open arms. It’s hardly a surprise that students in India and other developing world has heavily adopted online learning considering the vast benefits (such as access to world class knowledge pools (Harvard, Stanford, MIT professors), flexibility in time and pace of learning, comfortable learning experience, less anxiety, customized learning experiences and Teachers can speak to a wider audience, etc.) it offers.

But, India or the world for that matter, hasn’t seen a drastic change in traditional education system yet. A few years ago, the world was going crazy over how technology was going to transform higher education and would replace physical colleges. But the current actual scenario couldn’t be further from that. According to a University of Pennsylvania study “The Life Cycle of a Million MOOC Users”, an average of only five percent of the students in seventeen Coursera classes offered through the University of Pennsylvania actually finished their classes. Other estimated completion rates below thirteen per cent. And not all the students who completed their courses necessarily passed. Even in Harvard / MIT courses, the course completion rates are low across the board, from 0.8% to 7.5%.

 

 

In a five-year-long study of over fifty thousand students taking both online and face-to-face courses, researchers at Troy University found that online classes had higher failure rates than traditional classroom courses.  Today Universities worldwide has not even slightly affected by MOOCs in terms of enrollment or in the tuition fees.

Major drawbacks of the online studies according to Heather Thomas and Kevin Zencak – The Pennsylvania State University are Limited communication, Easier to ignore, Limited teacher instruction and the Need for more personal responsibility.

So, how is it when more and more students are adopting online learning and yet colleges and universities are unaffected by it? The answer is simple. Supplementary learning! As it turns out, online learning is growing which is a fact and also is the fact that the traditional education is unaffected by it. However what drawbacks and problems that MOOCs present has given opportunities for private tutoring to shine.  Countries like India, where private tutoring is one of the fastest growing markets since the difference between degrees earned from premier institutions and average colleges is prominent, online tutoring is likely to prosper. A few years back, Delhi university’s cut off marks for enrollment was 100% and the prestigious institutions like IIM-A have more than 99% score in CAT as cut off marks for admission. According to ASSOCHAM’s survey, around 87% of primary school children and up to 95% of the higher secondary attend private coaching classes. Almost every MBA aspirant in this country joins a CAT coaching center in a hope to get in a good B-school.  Since most classes run in metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai for civil services, law, C.A. for medical coaching, urban towns like Jaipur, Chandigarh and Kota for Engineering, Pune for Designing or Management etc., small town students either are left behind or face significant lifestyle change to get the coaching they need. This is where small entrepreneurs shine in Indian education ecosystem. With the access to technology and need for the market, coaching classes have reached to students from remote areas and offered online tutoring for competitive exams. Handakafunda is such an example of a private tutor turned into small entrepreneur to offer CAT tutoring to remote students via an excellent use of technology and online teaching. Based out of Jaipur, India, Handakafunda which started in 2009, has served more than 10, 000 students in its online CAT coaching facility. Not only handakafunda helps students from small cities to have access to the same kind of coaching that students in metro cities have but it also overcomes the limitations of MOOCs and online degree courses.

A major problem of MOOCs and online learning is the drop-out ratio. However, when a graduate from remote India joins handakafundaa or other such online coaching center, it’s highly unlikely for them to drop-out since both the course period is short, goal oriented (to clear CAT) and students themselves are highly motivated and have access to personalized guidance and mentoring from the most reputed tutors.

 

 

 

Another success factor is pricing vs value. Contrary to the popular belief, online courses are not less expensive than physical courses in traditional online learning. A survey conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), found that most colleges charge students the same or more to study online. And when additional fees are included, more than half of distance education students pay more than those in brick-and-mortar classrooms. So, when it comes to getting online degrees or certifications, students think of the value they get out of the online education compare to face-to-face education. However, in private tutoring sense, online education is always at the same price as face-to-face education and often is less expensive. In addition to that, the commute cost, the flexibility, and comfort of home, etc. are the factors contribute to the success of online tutoring.

 

Another drawback of MOOCs, according to David Youngberg – assistant professor of economics at Bethany College, is that It’s too easy to cheat. The honor code seems to be working only when students couldn’t get college credit as the incentive to cheat is very weak. But as soon as you start giving credits and credentials for online learning, cheating would increase. This is not the case in private coaching since most of the students are already graduate and are there for a sole purpose to be prepared for an entrance exam of India’s premier management institutions, they are motivated and their incentive is to score well in these practice exams to be ready for CAT.

 

Rapidly growing Indian middle class has put more emphasis on good education which increases demands of higher educational degrees. This increase in demand for higher education degrees from reputed institutions has made more and more students to appear for competitive entrance exams like CAT. With online tutoring, now India is becoming a leveled field for students from remote locations and limited resources to have same accessibilities as students from metro cities and more resources. Online coaching centers such as handakafund bring talented educators from across the nation to the doorstep of students. It is not a surprise at all that the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass $102.8 billion by 2018 for which India alone, has had a record growth of almost 35% in the last five-six years and is likely to touch $70 billion by 2017.

Learning gets a tech push; find out how

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(This article has been published in The Financial Express newspaper on Thursday, May 11, 2017)

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Learning management system (LMS) has long been adopted by colleges and universities including Tier 1 institutes in India to manage and administer their courses. LMS, also known as Virtual Learning  Environment, includes a category of software and web application that facilitates the online delivery of course material in addition to the features of tracking and reporting of student involvement. LMS is a hub of all educational activities in an academic environment where a student can access syllabi and required readings, submit assignments, access grades, connect with peers and teachers. On the other hand, a teacher can monitor students’ engagement, as well as performance across courses.

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Ramping up higher education system

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(This article has been published in Deccan Herald newspaper on Saturday February 11, 2017)

The Indian higher education system is at crossroads; barring select Institutes, the quality of education imparted by many of the Institutes in our country is disputable. In the recent Times Asia University Ranking, while Singapore took the top spot, mainland China and Japan are each home to almost a fifth of institutions in the extended top 200 table. India comes distant with just 16 Institutions listed. Is the recent drive by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) to enforce Outcome-Based Education (OBE) in our higher education Institutes a recipe for marching ahead?

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(The complete article is in the picture above. Readers can find it in here or in the edition of Deccan Herald published on Saturday February 11, 2017.)

Technology to the assistance of the flipped classroom model

The quality of manpower is a significant resource for large populous countries such as India, which depend on them for their rapid economic growth. Realizing the potential and opportunities in the education sector, the start-up space in this segment has seen much action off late. Almost one third of these companies have yearly revenue in the range of Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore and one fourth of these companies have revenue of more than Rs.1 crore per year. Investment communities are also very enthusiastic about EdTech start-ups. According to VCCEdge, the education sector has seen the rise of investment in recent years. In 2010, the total investment in EdTech was valued at $187M for 27 companies which rose to $248M for 48 companies in 2014 and in 2015, the 51 deals were signed in EdTech investment valued at $155M.

Continue at : LiveMint

 

This article of mine was published in Live Mint newspaper. Please follow the link to read the complete article. I couldn’t post the whole article here without proper permission.