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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 .

Some people argue Philips Exeter is the best high school in the United States. While I wouldn’t go that far to brag about it, I will say that its academic programs far surpassed anything you would find at a standard public high school. With all classes being discussion based, one was required to delve into subjects at a much more intense level than a standard lecture course. It’s been said that Exeter is the more “math-science” school while its sister school, Phillips Academy, focuses more on the humanities. I don’t believe that is true as I definitely recall working very hard and learning quite a bit in my writing based courses. Discussion is very helpful in classes like English and history, where we were given quite a bit of text to question and interpret. The student body is incredibly competitive, and things like college admissions and grades have been known to put strains on relationships. Slackers are not tolerated at a place like this, and there’s a good chance your friends will want to get in an hour of homework on a Saturday night before hanging out. Exeter is said to be the epitome of a college preparatory school. The general lifestyle one is forced to live at Exeter (going to classes, hour and a half windows for hot meals, required sports, and dorm check-in) is in turn great preparation for the kind of time management you will have to utilize in college. Exeter grants a bit more free time than other high schools, and you learn quickly that it is wisest to use that free time to get your assignments done before they come back to haunt you. Exeter’s anti-AP mentality made it impossible for me to transfer any credits to my university and thus I will be taking summer courses in order to pursue a double major plus a minor and graduate on time with my peers, most of whom came in with about three or four classes under their belt. My lack of AP credit also forced me to take a lot of lower level general requirement classes that I personally felt were not challenging and a waste of my time. When I say anti-AP, I mean that Exeter offered no sort of AP or Honors classes. This was because Exeter believed in more “holistic” teaching process that didn’t teach to a test. Overall, I will say that Exeter decently prepared me for college due to the general rigor nature of its atmosphere. The Harkness method is something that Exeter deeply prides itself in. This is the original discussion based teaching style that was introduced to the school in the 1930’s. Twelve or so kids sit around a large wooden oval table and are encouraged to speak for most of the class while the teacher acts more as a guide for discussion versus a lecturer. In some ways, I appreciated this method because it forced me to be more outgoing as well as develop a more eloquent way of speaking. What I didn’t like about it was the way it allowed for certain kids, like me, to slip through the cracks from time to time because I was forced to rely on shaky explanations from my peers to understand a subject that everyone was a novice in; teachers were very reluctant to lecture and expected us to carry each other in the class.

College Counseling

Exeter is way more hands-on with the college process than your average high school. Everyone....

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

Exeter is not an easy school to get into. Even with the recession back in....

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

My description of our quality of life would pretty much be what I have already previously written above. Life is always busy and work-filled. Our schedule is designed in such a way that allows little free time, and part of that is probably to prevent high school age kids from getting into trouble. Some people honestly loved Exeter and were very satisfied with the lives they lead there. Many others still resent the place today because of the immense amount of stress that dominated several years of their lives there. I remember reading a review back when I was a....

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