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Phillips Exeter Academy

School rating 4 / 5 by

20 Main Street Exeter NH 03833 United States
9th to PG
9th to PG


Phillips Exeter Academy review by .

Phillips Exeter Academy is famous for originating the Harkness method, a system where a class of ideally 12 students and an instructor sit around a round table and discuss readings from the night before. This extends into all subjects, even math and science. The instructors are usually of the highest quality, but classes can suffer if the students are not engaged because of the Harkness method relies so heavily on participation. As stated, classes usually range from 10-14, with four meetings a week, and five for language, math, and science courses. Exeter has a series of requirements that are scaled for the year of enrollment-- for example, a student entering in his first year will have more numerous requirements than one entering in his third. Students usually take five classes, leaving one open for an elective. Most first years take math, science, English, a language (Exeter offers Latin, Greek, German, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Arabic), and an elective, usually history, religion or art. A student must complete a year of biology and one other science and three years of math, as well as one year of United States history, usually in the third year, so the second year proceeds like the first with free electives, and most students choose the US history course as their elective for thrid year. Requirements (except for English) are usually satisfied by senior year, leaving a student free to take whatever he would like. The number of courses is myriad and varied, from Existentialism to Modern Physics, advanced calculus to Soviet History. Grades range from 11 to 0, A through E-- that is right, no "F," rather an E. Course comments are also given, and they are often more important than the actual letter grade, because it is a narrative of how you performed in the course.

College Counseling

Exeter starts counseling students about college admissions starting in the third year. They break....

Sample insights on college counseling

  • They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university...
  • For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more...

Admissions - Getting Accepted

A prospective student needs to take the SSAT around October or November, aiming for the....

Sample insights on admissions

  • For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents: the kids speak on the tour. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

Exeter student life is okay. Exeter, NH is a quiet small town and nothing much happens there, so it is easy to get bored. The school tries to throw events like dances and bands every weekend, but these are often lame. About once a month though, there is a great act-- one of the most awaited is the hypnotist in the spring who comes and performs to a packed hall. A lot of time is spent hanging around the dorm watching movies, but Exeter also runs buses to the mall and movies every so often, and....

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