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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 .

Exeter has a small student to teacher ratio, resulting in smaller classes and very individualized attention for each student. The Harkness Method is the highlight of Exeter's curriculum, and its educational properties extend far beyond the classroom. The Harkness Method is used in nearly every class, allowing for probing discussion on a breadth of topics at intellectual levels rare at most secondary schools. This discussion-based class setting warrants a high level of class participation, thus requiring students to be fairly familiar with the daily assignments in order to excel. The workload is fairly hefty for each course, often requiring large amounts of reading, but active class participants are rewarded in grading, as borderline grades are usually bumped up if interest is shown in class. For this reason, emphasis is placed on a student's willingness to learn, improve, and ask questions, rather than strictly exam scores. That said, many humanities-based courses do not give exams, as essays and discussion are stressed more in those classes. As is true with most boarding schools, teachers are very accessible outside of the classroom, with flexible tutorial hours in the evening (most offering help until 10 PM on some nights). Student tutors are also available for nearly all subjects, should teachers not be sufficient. The classes themselves are usually not straightforward high school courses, due to the Harkness method. Math courses are also in a discussion-setting, and the textbook is a packet of application-based word problems compiled by Academy math teachers . Students usually complete a problem set each night and demonstrate at least one problem on the board for their classmates the next day without previous guidance by the teacher. The teacher is a facilitator of discussion even in mathematics courses, and mostly explain difficult concepts and prod the students in their own derivations and discoveries in the problem-solving realm. Like so, English courses are often simply hour-long discussions on the night's readings, as are History courses. While so-called "AP courses" are not offered, college-level courses are denoted with an asterisk on the schedule and transcript, and students often perform at outstanding levels in their corresponding AP exams, despite not having followed the AP curriculum directly. There is considerable breadth in the curriculum, with courses in anthropology, electronics, computer science, print-making, psychology, economics, Russian, and a multitude of other liberal-arts classes made available to all students. The school facilities offer a mini anthropological museum, a geological rock collection, an astronomic viewtower, and countless other state-of-the-art facilities. As a freshman, one should expect about three hours of homework per night, not including extracurricular activities. Sophomore: 3-4 hours Junior: 4-5 hours Senior: 4-5 hours

College Counseling

My college counselor gave me very realistic advice when it came to college. She personally....

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

The SSAT should be taken, preferably earlier to allow for one more testing before 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

The dorms are clean, and many have undergone recent renovation (with elevators installed, layouts completely overhauled), most notably in Amen and Peabody. Basement storage is offered for most dorms for over-the-summer storage of personal belongings, including furniture. Rooms are relatively large in some dorms (I had a futon and a computer desk in addition to the dresser/bed/desk combination, and it all fit VERY comfortably in my spacious room). I also had a walk-in closet, high ceilings, and hardwood flooring for the last three years. Most freshman are assigned roommates, and room sizes and layouts vary greatly between dormitories. The largest....

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