|Overview||Best Instructors||Our Approach||Curriculum||Test Strategy||Test Psychology|
The Xceptional Advantage – Strategic Straight-Forward Approach
The Xceptional Prep Advantage consists of a strategic, straight-forward approach to test prep. Our pragmatic approach is a clear, concise method which provides a logical structure to preparing for the exam. We focus students’ time and studies into areas that maximize efforts and promote effective use of resources; all of which culminates into an increased score.
Many students can become stressed, distracted, and overwhelmed by preparing on their own or preparing with other resources that include extraneous topics and information. Our practical approach reduces student stress and anxiety and helps students approach the tests logically and strategically — test prep does not have to be any more difficult than needed. Our full length 6 week courses come with concise materials, utilize official test questions, have effective class structure, and are held on the weekends for students’ convenience.
With our strategic, straight-forward approach, students will see significant improvements in their test taking ability and their test scores.
6 Week Comprehensive Class Format
We have a 6 week comprehensive format for each of our courses. This effective format makes for the best use of students’ time and provides the best schedule for students to learn in and succeed. It allows students time to absorb the material each week and provides them time to practice all that they have learned in each class. It is the best format for students looking to increase their score.
Our 6 week course format provides an optimal balance where information is broken down into manageable portions while classes adhere to a concise format for efficient time management. Our comprehensive course format allows students to easily absorb new material by studying a specific component of the test each week; every week is compartmentalized, much like looking at one piece of the puzzle at a time. Our instructor led classroom courses provide comprehensive content reviews and strategy on each topic and students generally spend about 6 – 8 hours on homework and practice tests. Students typically spend about 55 – 60 hours total, including class time, throughout the entire course prepping for their exam. Test prep learning is maximized and is most efficient when you learn a new topic each week and practice your newly learned knowledge and skills a little bit every day.
We strongly discourage students from taking weekend only “cram” courses or online video courses. These courses offer little in terms of preparation and primarily gloss over the strategies and methods to attack the exam. In our opinion they are no better that buying a retail book at a local bookstore or studying on your own. Students who are serious and committed to their test prep studies will invest in a classroom based course with a comprehensive, weekly, format.
Concise Course Materials
One of our competitive advantages is our effective use of course materials. We don’t inundate our students with a massive amount of useless course materials that might confuse and overwhelm them; we are selective about our course materials and only use what is necessary. We provide everything you need to increase your score and we understand that your time is limited. In other words, we get right to the point: Xceptional students spend time on what counts. We make effective use of time and have a structured course that includes straightforward, concise materials that utilize real test questions.
All course materials are included and distributed on the first day, so you’ll know exactly what is covered each week of class. We have a structured course that includes straightforward, concise materials, and we use real test questions. All of our courses come with everything you need to thoroughly prepare for the exam, so there is nothing more to buy. Each student receives a book of real test questions and a Xceptional coursebook included with the course fee. Some courses include additional materials as needed, such as Computer-based Tests for the GRE, and vocabulary for the GRE, etc. A no-nonsense course format and straight forward study materials make for an effective use of student time.
Many companies have a “we’ll throw everything into a course including the kitchen sink” philosophy into their course description hoping students will buy their course. They include hyped technology that is not useful or helpful. They will include thousands of pages of daunting and unneeded materials just to state “they have thousands of pages.” They will add hours upon hours of online or video components to their courses which few students watch and if they do, won’t realize value from the video presentations. They might make you think that it is better or it will help you improve your score, but it won’t. Other test prep companies may lead you to believe that more materials means better test prep, but our approach is different.
We know that test prep is already stressful and overwhelming, so we have created a course that is simply effective. The best test prep course maximizes student performance by focusing only on what counts, what’s critical to students’ success, and what will improve student test scores. Xceptional Prep materials are concise and to the point; we don’t overload students with useless materials and resources that students will never use. With Xceptional you can trust that you’ll have the most pragmatic, concise course available for maximum score improvement. With Xceptional Prep, you are preparing for the test in the most simple, yet effective way.
Official Test Questions and Real Practice Tests
We use official test questions and official, full-length practice tests in our course. Utilizing real questions makes the difference. Practicing on real tests is the best way to improve your score: Pseudo-tests constructed on the same principles of real tests are not accurate, and are at times, much more difficult than the real thing. We have students practice with official tests from the College Board, the Educational Testing Service, and ACT, Inc. When you practice with real test questions, you’ll know exactly what to expect on the actual exam. You’ll know how each question type is constructed, and how to approach each question with the appropriate strategy or technique. Practicing with real test questions during the course enables you to be confident when approaching the real exam on test day because you’ll know exactly what to expect; there will be no surprises.
During our course, we have students practice our plans of attack and ideas and techniques on hundreds of questions. Students are required to complete 6 to 8 hours of homework each week that consists of structured practice directly aligned with the lecture. Students take “real” official tests to simulate the actual testing experience and to assess their improvement over the course. These official tests from the College Board (SAT), the Educational Testing Service (GRE), and ACT, Inc. (ACT) allow students to practice what they have learned from class and through homework assignments each week. They also decrease students’ anxiety on test day, and allow students to enter the testing room with a soldier’s mentality. Homework items are drawn from real test questions. Xceptional Prep students utilize official test questions in all phases of the course.
Students proctor their own practice tests at home to maximize class instructional time. Some companies provide proctoring services as a part of the course cost. While this can be desirable as a prospective student, it really isn’t necessary or worth the extra cost. Proctored tests can significantly increase the cost of a program, and it is something that you can simply do on your own at home. As a value service we’re here to save you money, especially with something you can do yourself, for free. Our instructors teach students how to effectively proctor their tests at home in a consistent format that closely matches the real test environment.
Many competitors tout their use of pseudo-tests or tests constructed by themselves. They state that these test questions are similar to the real thing. The reality is that no test prep company can match the test makers’ research and development of official test questions. It takes the test makers millions of dollars and thousands of hours to construct test questions. It’s a very carefully controlled process and takes a considerable amount of time and resources. No one except the test makers can produce questions that are worth practicing upon. Test prep companies do not have the capability to spend millions of dollars on producing test questions. Pseudo-type tests constructed on the same principles of real teats are not accurate, and are at times, much more difficult than the real thing.
Picking up the consistent test design patterns of real, official tests is one of the most crucial aspects of effective test preparation. Pseudo questions operate differently. Their patterns do not match nor are they consistent with official test questions. It is counter productive to practice on fake questions or any question that is not from a previously released test. Some companies also write pseudo-questions that are actually more difficult, sometimes called “advanced,” compared to the real tests. They feel that practicing on more difficult questions will help because it makes real test questions feel so much easier. The problem is that these concepts, skills, and knowledge bases are never tested on the real exam and it wastes students’ time and efforts. These topics are tangential and cannot be transferred to real questions. In short, nothing is better or more worthwhile for students than practicing with official test questions and real practice tests from the test makers.
Effective Class Structure
Our full-length, comprehensive courses are logically structured like university classes. They feature lecture, interactive learning in the classroom, and homework that includes untimed practice questions and timed practice tests. We logically plan our students’ work both inside and outside the classroom to effectively maximize their time and effort. We know what works, and we provide guidance and leadership to guide you toward your goal of a good score. Our structure encourages the discipline and confidence needed for success.
Class is held weekly to space out the work and to allow students time to study the material and complete their homework assignments and practice tests. The structure of class includes lesson plans for each type of question and topic on the exam each week, and practice tests at home. Our live, classroom based course is flexible enough to allow for structured lessons plans but also leaves room to discuss topics that students are struggling with. Time is built into the course to address questions that students may have about their homework and practice tests. Students’ assigned homework is directly aligned with the lecture and includes self-proctored practice tests at home. Our comprehensive courses afford the structure of classroom instruction along with the adaptability to adjust the syllabus to student needs, and in addition they facilitate peer support.
With our effective course structure, students are able to get the most out of their time, both inside and outside of the classroom. Xceptional Prep courses provide an optimal study-plan for each student.
Classes are Held on Weekends for your Convenience
Test prep can be stressful. We believe that test prep should be held on days and times that are easily accessible and relatively stress-free for all. We conveniently hold our classes on weekend days, Saturday and Sunday, because we’ve found weekends to be the least stressful time to attend a test prep course. Most students have many activities and time commitments that preclude attending classes on weeknights. It can often be tiresome after a long day of school and/or work to attend a weekday evening test prep course.
Weekends are usually free for most and are one of the best times to take a prep course outside of one’s weekly activities and stressors. Students can be better rested for weekend held classes, which translates to higher energy, better cognition, improved memory, and enhanced class performance. In addition, for those who are traveling to our classes, traffic is usually lighter. We think test prep classes held on the weekends are the best for students. That’s our philosophy.
We hold our ACT Courses on Saturday afternoons not to interfere with high school students’ Saturday morning athletics or practice schedules. We hold our GRE and SAT Courses on Sundays. GRE courses are held on Sunday afternoons not to interfere with religious services. SAT courses are held on Sunday evenings as to not conflict with high school students’ athletics and extra-curricular weekend schedules. Our nationwide course offerings are scheduled on the same dates and times in all twenty-seven cities in thirteen states.
We have one of the best instructor to student ratios in the industry. We have a maximum of 15* students in each class because we believe a small class size is important to student learning. Studies have shown that lower student to teacher ratios contribute to better retention and a more directed and closer interaction. Students benefit from a small class size because it increases interaction, fosters peer relationships, and instructors can get to know their students and deliver test prep to individual concerns and needs. Access to the instructor is facilitated by having a smaller class size and thus student learning is increased.
With a smaller class size, students have more personal attention from their instructor. Students can have a positive working relationship with their instructor; not be just a nameless face in a large lecture hall class. A small class size ensures that instructors can manage their students’ efforts better. Instructors have time to answer student questions and can more readily adapt the curriculum to students’ levels; students concisely learn what they need. Individual progress is monitored better because there are fewer students to account for and instructors don’t have to repeat themselves in a small class setting. In summary, a small class size allows instructors to be more flexible in their teaching.
Year-Round, Nationwide Locations with Convenient Class Schedules and Alignment to Test Dates
We have eight session start dates per year for our three preps. We offer test prep courses throughout the year leading up to almost every examination date for your convenience. The SAT and ACT offer rigid exam dates per year and we offer a course for every exam date. The GRE offers flexible dates for its exam and we have 8 course start dates each year to accommodate different students needs and school admissions cycles. In general we have uniform start dates in January, March, April, June, July, August, October, and December for all of our tests.
Our course offerings are uniform nationwide. We always offer our courses on consistent Saturdays and Sundays to help with scheduling and rest. Every city and every state has the same exact schedules throughout the year. We offer our courses on-campus at university classrooms or at hotels near campus with conference rooms set up in a classroom format. We do this to ensure maximum access to both current and future college and graduate/professional school students.
We offer the same weekend schedules in all twenty-seven cities in thirteen states. Click here to view our course schedules and start dates. Our year round start dates allow students to choose the start date that works best for their individual schedule. When you are planning in advance to take one our classes you’ll know our set dates and times for each course as they do not change.
Practice and Hard Work
Effective test prep takes student participation and lots of practice and hard work. We have rigorous courses that are demanding and exact high score improvements. Diligent students who put in the time and effort to complete all of the homework and practice test assignments improve tremendously in the course, and perform to their maximum potential on test day. Your dedication to the course plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of test preparation. The real secret, though, which most companies won’t tell you, is hard work and practice.
Going to class in itself does not equal a good score. To be successful, students need to be pro-active, take detailed notes, ask questions, and dedicate themselves with their time and energy. You will need to complete your homework assignments, improve on your weaknesses, and may need to spend extra time on tougher areas of the test. We focus students’ time and energy into what works, both inside and outside of the classroom. If you come to class each week prepared and work hard, you will see significant improvements.
Taking real practice tests is the single best way to improve your test score. Instructors provide students the necessary tools and information to proctor their take-home tests effectively. In all of our courses, you are provided with official real tests to proctor at home. This allows students to mimic the real world test examination format each week and take all practice tests under real test-like conditions. Practice allows you to reinforce concepts learned in class, and try new strategies and methods for solving problems. It allows you to figure out the best way to tackle a test question and makes you a better test taker. As a committed student, and with practice and hard work — you will definitely improve.