Self-Taught 20-Year-Old Coder Builds Free App To Help SPM Students Study For Exams

Founder of JomStudy, Ong Yong Xun, created the app with zero prior coding experience!

Cover image via Ong Yong Xun (Provided to SAYS)

Ong Yong Xun, a 20-year-old pre-university student, built an app to help Malaysian teens prepare for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exams after facing his own frustration of having to carry around bulky textbooks

Once an SPM student, Ong remembers the struggle of having to lug around 200-page textbooks to school every day. 

This was why he decided to create a bank of short and informative notes that current and future Form Four and Five students could easily bring with them on-the-go. 

With zero coding experience, Ong created the app, JomStudy, in just six months

After completing Form Six, Ong spent six months learning the basics of coding and developed the JomStudy app from scratch.

He relied primarily on Google and YouTube tutorials to understand how he could use Ionic 4 and Angular 8 as platforms to code his app. Ionic 4 and Angular 8 are frameworks designed to support a standardised method of building and publishing apps on the Internet, the App Store, and Google Play Store.

In an interview with SAYS, Ong explained that he chose to use these frameworks rather than learn coding languages, such as JavaScript (used in Android) or Swift (used in iOS), in order to build the app quickly.

The most challenging aspect of development for Ong was finding the best solutions to errors in the coding programme

He told SAYS, "I faced tons of issues as I am inexperienced… I needed to have a clear and positive mind [before] looking for solutions."

The 20-year-old reached out for answers on Stack Overflow, an online forum for anyone who codes.

Despite the many challenges, Ong said, "The goal of providing free and accessible education [kept] me going."

Unlike other exam revision apps, JomStudy is free, accessible, and it provides notes for a wide range of SPM subjects

JomStudy has short, digestible, and fun notes for all seven compulsory SPM subjects, which are Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics, Science, History, Islamic Studies, and Moral Education, as well as nine elective subjects, including Accounting, Additional Mathematics, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Chinese, Economics, Geography, and Physics. 

The notes are equipped with tables, graphs, diagrams, and photographs which help explain the subject matter simply and clearly. 

The homepage showcasing some of the SPM subjects available.

Image via Ong Yong Xun (Provided to SAYS)

Downloading the app for ourselves, we found that the notes were especially accessible because they were personal and fun, as though a friend were teaching you the material. This is largely because the notes were written by Ong and a couple of his ex-classmates

Ong explained, "I tried to put in effort [to] make sure the notes are fun and easy to read thus encouraging students to revise."

Having completed the SPM examinations only two years prior, Ong believes that he is able to understand exactly what Form Four and Five students would want in their notes. 

The app had over 1,000 downloads during the first week of its release, but Ong says this is only the start

Ong told SAYS how elated he was when the app hit 1,000 downloads and received an average rating of 4.9 on both the App Store and Google Play Store

As successful as it already is, Ong revealed that he plans on expanding the notes to cover just about every SPM subject under the KSSM syllabus (a switch from this year's KBSM curriculum) with the help of several school teachers and ex-SPM candidates. 

He also expects to add multiple choice questions and video summaries of each chapter in the near future.

Ong hopes to make studying more convenient for students, adding, "JomStudy [is] aiming to be the all-in-one SPM app."

But, he was quick to point out that JomStudy is not a replacement for traditional books and methods of studying. Instead, Ong says, "Our vision is to provide an alternative for students to revise on-the-go."

The pre-university student acknowledged that this was his biggest accomplishment to date, but hopes that this will serve as the benchmark for his future endeavours

Dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur ever since he was 15 years old, Ong claims that JomStudy is his first successful project after multiple failed attempts at building a business. 

When asked how he feels having accomplished such an achievement at a relatively young age, Ong replied, "Honestly, age doesn't matter but what matters to me is [one's] attitude and behaviour."

He added, "I believe everyone must have grit in whatever they are doing in order to challenge their own limits and accomplish the impossible."

In creating this app, Ong is not only helping students nationwide in their SPM preparation, but he is truly embodying his life-motto: "Never stop seeking discomfort."

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