Dave Evangelisti, Founder and CEO

Dublin, OH
Dave and his son working on the site. A page on the site.
From side hustle to business

Anyone who’s studied for a standardized test knows how stressful it can get — especially when you look at the price tag for certain prep materials. Dave Evangelisti saw this firsthand when he ran a company that sold exam prep products to students.

“Students would spend $80, even $100 on some of these exam prep materials,” says Dave. “It seemed crazy to me that people would spend that much to prepare for an exam, so I figured there must be a way to offer these materials for free.”

He founded Test-Guide.com in 2009 just as a side hustle while working his corporate job. Initially the site just focused on a couple of the major tests, like the GRE and GMAT. It was a very simple site that mostly offered links to existing test materials that students could access for free. “Our audience is anyone from high school students looking to get into college, college students studying for advanced degrees, to people looking to change careers like becoming a truck driver or nurse,” says Dave.

Dave’s ambitions were modest in the beginning. He wanted to prove to himself that he really could start a successful business on his own. As for income, he just hoped to make enough to cover the costs of his kids’ extracurricular activities — because dance lessons and youth hockey aren’t cheap either. But the thought of making enough to quit the corporate world and focus on the site full-time wasn’t seriously considered.

Then one day, while on vacation, Dave decided to play around with Google Ads to advertise the site's content. The next day, he logged on and saw that site traffic had tripled.

“I realized I was definitely on to something,” says Dave. “If I could keep up this momentum and cleverly work ads into my site, I really might have a business on my hands.”

A page on the Test-Guide site.
Ads pass the test

Test-Guide.com had started as a way to make expensive test prep materials affordable — so of course Dave wanted to keep his site entirely free. To capitalize on all the traffic suddenly heading to his site, Dave decided to use AdSense.

“Our reasoning was simple,” says Dave. “We chose AdSense because it was easy to set up and manage, had significant demand, displayed contextually relevant ads, and gave us access to more premium advertisers, along with sophisticated tools to help us manage our ads.”

In fact, the ease of setup is Dave’s favorite AdSense feature. “I love that it’s sort of plug-and-play,” he says. “You can set it up and kind of just forget about it. You don't have to manage it on a day-to-day basis.”

Dave’s first goal was to add even more content to the site. Instead of just linking to existing material, Dave would create his own questions and offer original, exclusive practice exams on Test-Guide.

But how was Dave going to make practice questions for the LSAT or the MCAT? “We hired a small set of employees and several dozen freelancers and consultants that are subject matter experts and help us craft content for more advanced, specialized exams,” says Dave. “Ad revenue really enabled us to hire these experts and help them earn a living.”

“We chose AdSense because it was easy to set up and manage, had significant demand, displayed contextually relevant ads, and gave us access to more premium advertisers, along with sophisticated tools to help us manage our ads.”
A perfect score

Traffic grew even more as Dave added more prep materials. It turns out there’s quite a bit to study for — so Dave wanted Test-Guide to be a place for anyone, whether you’re aiming to get your Food Service Certification or studying to be a phlebotomist. Dave also benefited from his site’s high level of engagement. Users are there to study — so they’re coming on and viewing 20 or 30 different pages of content because they're doing all these practice questions. This enabled more access to more premium ad inventory and Dave decided to use Google Ad Manager to support it.

“As our ad revenue grew, I was fortunate enough to be able to go full-time with Test-Guide in 2013,” says Dave. “Ad revenue allowed me to reach all my goals and more.” He left the corporate world and never looked back — and was now eager to get even more ambitious with his site.

Meanwhile, Dave’s older son started running day-to-day operations of the site on a full-time basis, while his younger son is picking up a few hours a week during the school year and works full-time during the summers. Dave’s also had the means to work with professional agencies on web development and marketing, further improving his site’s user experience.

Looking ahead, Dave wants to develop deeper, richer content. Beyond practice exams, he wants to venture more into flashcards and basic instructional material that can teach students rather than just testing them.

Hearing from happy test-takers makes it all worth it for Dave. “Over the last 14 years, Test-Guide.com has helped over 51 million test takers prepare for their exams,” says Dave. “Our users have taken over 109 million practice tests and answered nearly 1 billion practice questions.”

One particularly memorable interaction involved a chance encounter his son had. While taking a rideshare, his son struck up a conversation with the driver, who mentioned that his days as a driver were numbered because he’d just qualified for a job in the IT industry.

“My son asked him how he prepared for the certification exam, and the driver said "Oh, it was some website, Test-Guide I think? It had a bunch of free practice tests.’ My son was very excited to tell the driver that Test-Guide was his dad's website!”

About the Publisher

Dave Evangelisti is the founder and CEO of Test-Guide.com, a learning platform that assists millions of test-takers in conquering their exams with free practice tests and online courses. Under his guidance, the platform has become a leader in exam prep, offering resources for over 100 exams. Previously, Dave held leadership roles at a multi-campus career college, expanding online learning and exam prep into a multi-million-dollar national leader. With degrees in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, Dave's commitment to education and innovation drives Test-Guide.com's mission to enhance the exam preparation experience.
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