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  • Do I have to take a test prep class?
    Of course, you do not. The better question is... Should you take a test prep class? When you take a test prep class taught by outstanding teachers who are content certified, practice on authentic tests, review material you may have forgotten, learn new concepts and become familiar with the exam, you will improve your performance. Because you want to show a college the best that you can be, taking a test prep class makes sense.
  • When is the optimum time to take a test prep class?
    This question is asked more and more often as some test prep companies try to convince students to prep at a time that best fits their personal schedules. The truth is there is a best time to test. Educators know that, which is why the State of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan negotiated spring SAT dates for their juniors! Because there is a best time to test, there also is a best time to prep. Our classes are offered in the months immediately preceding the spring SAT. In the case of the PSAT or ACT, our classes wrap up just before the exam the school has scheduled. We want information to be fresh in students’ minds on test day – whichever exam they take. Furthermore, we want spring juniors to have an opportunity to retest later in the spring or early summer. Our ExcelEdge recommended timetable allows for that.
  • Which test prep class is right for me?
    If you are an honors junior, you should begin your year with PSAT 1520. For students like you, the PSAT/NMSQT is a high stakes test, and National Merit recognition is the most prestigious academic honor a student can earn. So…. If you are a superstar, the PSAT/ NMSQT is your test, and PSAT 1520 is your course! Students should plan on taking the ACT or SAT in the spring of their junior year. In their use as a college admissions tool, the two tests are identical. (Check with colleges/ universities that interest you to see if they have a test preference. Most will not.) All Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan students will take the SAT because taking that test is a state graduation requirement. As a result, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan students will want to enroll in SAT 1600 to enhance their performance on the SAT. Deleted...Wisconsin students can select their prep program based on the college they choose to attend or their personal preference.
  • Why are your classes only for juniors?
    The PSAT, ACT and SAT tests themselves are designed for juniors. The content of the tests matches what juniors have learned in eleven years. Sophomores will not have all the content under their belts if they test too early (although sophomores certainly can take the test for practice if they realize the test they are taking is designed for juniors). Seniors can retake an SAT or ACT if they are not happy with their junior performance, but beginning the college testing process in the senior year is too late.
  • What can I expect in class?
    You can expect an engaged group of peers committed to improving their test scores. You can expect an inviting environment and a quality instructor who holds your interest. You can expect to leave each class knowing more than you did when you entered the room.
  • What is the average class size?
    Our average class size is 20 or fewer students in a section.
  • How do you group students in a class?
    Students are heterogeneously grouped. Our research proves that in a heterogeneous group, the class builds on students’ strengths, not teaches to their weaknesses.
  • How do I find out where my classes will meet?
    Class lists will be posted at your high school in a prominent place (Main Office, Guidance or PPS Office), and announcements will alert juniors to the posting. You will receive an email a few days before the first class from your supervisor. You can always send an email to if you did not receive an email. Sometimes the email may be in your spam folder.
  • If I have a concern about the class, whom do I contact?
    Again, start with the ExcelEdge office. We can redirect you, if necessary.
  • Do I have to attend all classes?
    You should want to attend all classes. Each class provides new information that will increase your test score.
  • How do I arrange for a make-up class?
    Contact your ExcelEdge site supervisor or the ExcelEdge office by e-mail or phone to find out what school to attend on what day and at what time, where to park, what door to come in and what classroom to attend for a class that will match what you missed. If you cannot reach the supervisor personally, please leave a message. In that message, clearly state your name, the school you attend, the day you will be missing class and your phone number. The supervisor will reach you with the appropriate make-up information.
  • What if miss a class?
    It is no surprise that we attract juniors who have many extracurricular conflicts. If you need to be absent, you may contact your ExcelEdge school supervisor or the ExcelEdge office to schedule a make-up class.
  • If I am absent for the first class, where can I pick up my textbook and tests?
    We will email you to give you that information if you are absent for the first class. Most often, we will leave your textbook/ tests with your name on them in the Guidance Office of your high school.
  • If I am absent for the last class, where can I pick up my test?
    We will email you to give you that information if you are absent for the last class. Most often, we will leave your test/answer sheet with your name on them in the Guidance Office of your high school.
  • If I have a question about my student’s attendance, whom do I call?
    Always contact either the ExcelEdge office ( or 219-838-0740) or your junior’s ExcelEdge site supervisor. The phone number and e-mail address for the site supervisor will be in your student’s textbook.
  • How can I contact the ExcelEdge office?
    Please call: 219-838-0740 or send us an e-mail at
  • How can I contact my child’s teacher/ supervisor?
    Contact the ExcelEdge office, and we will put you in touch with your child’s supervisor or teacher(s). Remember that this information is also in Section 1 of your student’s textbook.
  • Can I expect the ExcelEdge office to contact me?
    Yes. We return calls within 24 hours. In addition, families should expect an email from our office when a student has been absent to arrange for a make-up session (unless, of course, the student has prearranged the absence/ make-up session). Of course, if we have any concern about your child, we will be in touch.
  • Shall I contact my child’s school with a question?
    Schools ask us to answer parents’ questions first. If parents need further information, they may then contact the school.
  • Which is the right class for me?
    Simply put, the PSAT 1520 program is designed for honors students who have the potential to score among the top 4% in the nation (the top 50,000 scorers) on the PSAT/ NMSQT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. SAT 1600 and ACT 36 are for all college-bound students who will take the SAT and/ or ACT for admission into a college/ university.
  • What materials do you use in class?
    The course textbook is a compendium of scouting reports, offensive strategies, defensive strategies and practices to familiarize a student with the PSAT, SAT or ACT. Authentic released exams purchased from the College Board and ACT supplement the textbook.
  • How effective is your curriculum?
    We tell students, “The program works if you do.” When students become comfortable and familiar with a test and its strategies, the mystery is removed, and scores skyrocket. Gains of about 10% are typical. For example, the College Board now predicts a gain from sophomore to junior year of 10.6 Selection Index points on the PSAT/ NMSQT (Prior to 2005, the anticipated gain was 8.4). Our students have doubled to tripled that anticipated gain in our more than two decades of tracking student achievement. SAT composites increase on average a typical 10%. ACT composites increase an average of 2-3 points. That said, a student who comes to us with a 34 on the ACT may not necessarily score a 36 by enrolling in our course!
  • What results can I expect?
    So much depends on the student. If you come to each class, do the timed practices from authentic exams, ask questions of your instructors and try your best, you will achieve results at the top end of your personal score range. Our expectations are realistic. We cannot get C students into Harvard, but we CAN make you look your personal best and get you your BEST score.
  • How do I register for the program?
    Schools send a PSAT 1520 email to students in June and July. Schools send SAT 1600 email to students in November. Schools send ACT 36 email to students in November or winter depending on the test date for which the school is preparing. You also may register on our ExcelEdge website by selecting "Register" and selecting the correct school.
  • Can I register late for the program?
    Yes. Call the ExcelEdge office if you are interested in enrolling after your school’s registration deadline has passed. We may have space available, or we may add you to a wait list. A $20 late fee will be assessed. Does enrolling in the class register me for the test? No. Students must register for the test themselves. Both testing companies have firm registration deadlines, and the ACT and SAT folks add late fees after the registration deadline.
  • How can I register for the test(s)?
    For the PSAT/NMSQT, some students register in their Guidance Office/ PPS Office while others will be automatically registered through their school. Look for information from your high school about the registration period for the test, which is always in October. For the SAT, students register online ( For the ACT students register online ( If a student is taking the SAT as part of a school test, then the school will register the student and provide testing information itself.
  • Can I register for your test preparation classes at a school where I am not a student?
    Perhaps. We first enroll the juniors from that school. If space is available, we may add students from neighboring high schools.
  • Is there homework? How much?
    Yes, there is homework, and we call our exercises homeworkouts. Most often, students are given timed practices from authentic exams to take at home. Students also receive an answer key so they can immediately check their work. Instructors are available before and after classes to answer individual questions that are not discussed in class. We also have review sections in our textbooks for students who might need them. The Essentials of Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Trig review math concepts students may have forgotten or may never have mastered. The Grammarian’s Guide reviews English skills that juniors may find helpful. In short, students may do as much or as little of the homework we give. Students need to complete as much as necessary to reinforce what they have learned in class and feel ready for the test.
  • I have changed my mind about taking the course but already have enrolled. Does ExcelEdge give refunds?
    Yes. We will refund the full tuition to students who change their minds about taking the class before the program begins. Refunds are not offered after the first class or after the students receive their book.
  • Should I take the ACT or SAT more than once?
    Yes. The cost is minimal, and you may improve your score on the second (or third) taking. For the SAT and ACT, we recommend testing in March/April and repeating the exam in May or June or testing in May and repeating the exam in June. Of course, students may retake either the ACT or SAT as fall seniors and still have time to apply to colleges.
  • Will testing a second time increase my score?
    The range within which your score falls should not change by much, but the ACT says you have two chances in four of increasing as you repeat the exam. And, because .5 rounds up, a difference of even .25 may bump you up by a full point! The College Board gives you a range within which you will score, and familiarity works to your advantage in moving you to the upper end of that range. We say, “Go for it!”
  • What should I do between tests to keep my skills sharp?
    Because we give you so many authentic tests on which to practice in class, you may find sections of tests you have not completed or sections of the textbook you can continue to review. Just “keep the wheels greased” by working on the test skills we have taught you and practicing on authentic exams.
  • What are the qualifications of the ExcelEdge teachers?
    All ExcelEdge instructors are secondary certified in the test subject they are teaching. They participate in yearly workshops to hone their talents. All are personable, student centered and come with the highest recommendation of their school administration.
  • What can I expect from an ExcelEdge teacher?
    You can expect a class that is informative and fun, one you WANT to attend, not HAVE to attend.
  • Can I get a teaching job with your corporation?
    Please contact the ExcelEdge office if you are secondary certified in English, Reading, Math or Science and have glowing recommendations!
  • What are the differences in the tests offered?
    The PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized exam given in October of each year. It is written by the College Board and tests reading skills, writing skills, and math problem solving skills. Because it is co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), it also offers anyone taking the test an opportunity to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program. This program recognizes students who score among the top 50,000 testers in the nation. In its use the PSAT/ NMSQT is less important as a practice SAT. It is vitally important as a National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The SAT is a test measuring aptitude in three areas: Reading, Writing and Language , and Mathematics. The SAT is written by the College Board. The SAT is given up to seven times a year, usually in January, March or April, May, June, October, November, and December. It is a graduation requirement in some states. The ACT is a standardized achievement test measuring skills the student has already learned. The ACT is given on six national test dates in September, October, December, February, April and June. It consists of tests in five areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing. The Writing Test is optional on any national test date,
  • Is there a best time to take the ACT or the SAT?
    There IS a best time to take the ACT or SAT, and that time is as a spring junior. These two tests are geared to juniors, meaning the test maker presumes students have completed junior level work at the time of testing. The exam tests curriculum juniors should have mastered. Because there IS a best time to test, there also IS a best time to prep. Our classes are offered in the months immediately preceding the spring ACT/SAT. In the case of the SAT, our classes wrap up just before the exam the school has scheduled. We want information to be fresh in students’ minds on test day – whichever exam they take. Furthermore, we want spring juniors to have an opportunity to retest later in the spring or early summer. Our ExcelEdge recommended timetable allows for that.
  • Which tests must I take?
    If you are a student in Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, you must take the SAT as part of your state’s graduation requirement. For all other students, the ultimate authority on what test(s) you need is the college or university itself. Some have a test requirement or preference; some do not. Some prefer a portfolio where you demonstrate your talents. Some tell you that submitting a standardized test score is optional. Always check first with the colleges/ universities that interest you.
  • Do I need to take both the SAT and the ACT?
    No, you do not (unless you choose to do so). In their use, both the ACT and SAT are college admissions tests. Colleges will use either to determine if their school is a good fit for you and you will be offered admission there. If you feel you will perform better on one test than another, you certainly may take both exams and submit the higher score. Our Concordance of Scores in all of our textbooks can help you with this decision.
  • How do colleges interpret the scores?
    As part of the admissions process, colleges may interpret the results of each test differently. The ACT sends scores only to the high school and the colleges/universities the student designates. If you decide to superscore, all of the score reports will be sent, not just the individual test scores. The SAT sends a student’s complete testing record unless a student subscribes to Score Choice, a service of the College Board that allows students to select the scores they choose to send. Some colleges/universities will consider individual scores for each test taken. Some will consider only the composite score. All consider the best score on your record. It is best to contact all colleges/universities you are considering and follow the advice given by the admissions office of each college or university. The admissions offices will also advise you of any other requirements needed to complete the application process.
  • How do I register for the PSAT, ACT or SAT?
    To register for the PSAT, listen for announcements to tell you when registration is scheduled, or see your guidance counselor at your high school. This registration process is done only through your high school. Prices for this test vary. There is no online registration available. To register for the ACT online, go to If you take the ACT 36 program through ExcelEdge, we will provide you with a registration packet if your school makes it available to us. To register for the SAT, see your guidance counselor for the SAT Registration Booklet or register online at register for the PSAT, listen for announcements to tell you when registration is scheduled, or see your guidance counselor at your high school. This registration process is done only through your high school. Prices for this test vary. There is no online registration available. To register for the ACT online, go to To register for the SAT register online
  • How do I qualify for accommodations on the PSAT/ SAT or ACT?
    ACT and College Board recognize that some students require accommodations such as extended time, use of a computer for writing, or a Reader if they are to have the test reflect their true abilities. Students with 504 Plans or IEPs who have a history of using accommodations in the classroom may apply to ACT and/or College Board for test accommodations. Students should contact their school counselor or IEP Coordinator at least 3 months prior to the desired test date for assistance in applying for accommodations. Additional information is available at: for assistance with the PSAT or SAT and for assistance with the ACT.
  • If the college I am applying to is test optional, should I send in my scores?
    Test scores can be used for admissions and also for placement in math and English classes. They also can affect merit-based aid at many schools. If test scores can help secure a greater merit-based aid award, the student should consider sending those scores. If you score well on the test, you should send your scores.
  • How is the ACT Composite score different from an ACT superscore?
    Your Composite score is the average of the four subject scores from one ACT test attempt. Your superscore is the average of your best scores from each subject from multiple test attempts. Your superscore is never lower than a single Composite score.
  • What is the cost of a class?
    Our tuition varies by course and by school contribution. Some schools share the cost of tuition with families; some offer a rebate incentive for a student’s perfect attendance; some pass on the cost of the program in full to families.
  • Why is your tuition lower than that of so many other test prep companies?
    ExcelEdge is committed to providing a high-quality test preparation program at a cost a middle income American family can afford. We do not seek to become a national chain. We are a group of educators who have not forgotten our roots or our mission.
  • May I pay with a credit card?
    Yes. You may register online and pay by credit card.
  • Does ExcelEdge offer tuition assistance?
    Yes. Call the ExcelEdge office for assistance if you qualify for your school’s free and reduced lunch program and have financial need. We may also be able to help you with a payment plan.
  • How do I know if the class will meet?
    If school is in session during the day, our program will meet in the evening. Conversely, if school is closed for the day, we will not meet in the evening. However, if school is in session during the day and a school requests we cancel evening classes, we will, and we will contact you by phone or by e-mail to give you this information.
  • If classes are meeting but I don’t feel safe driving, what should I do?
    Stay home if you are not comfortable driving, or ask a parent to drive you. We have many make-up opportunities available.

What sets ExcelEdge apart from other test preparation programs?

“ExcelEdge courses are taught by experienced, highly qualified, and certified educators.  It provides students of all levels with numerous sample tests in order to familiarize themselves with the exam’s structure and working through practice problems/passages to identify strengths, gaps, and pacing needs within their test-taking.  ExcelEdge then offers relevant strategies to increase scores and some skill/content review as well.  Students walk away with a full-length practice test under their belts, recommended areas for further review, and the confidence that they will be successful on the exam”


Valerie Hardy

National Board Certified Teacher

BA Speech Communications, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

M.S.Ed Teaching and Learning/Secondary English Education, DePaul University

M.S.Ed Counseling, Northern Illinois University


“ExcelEdge meets students where they are at in terms of their test prep education and physical location.  We offer courses in numerous schools in the Chicago suburbs and employ certified teachers who know the subject matter. The teachers continually upgrade content and current teaching practices to make sure students get the best exposure and prepare for the test.” 


Leslie Jordan

BS Secondary Education-English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

MA Instructional Technology, Lewis University


“The personalized connections teachers make with participants around the subject matter, the ability to receive immediate feedback, and a strategy to use to counteract any negative test-taking habits.”


Kevin Czarnecki

BA English, Saint Norbert College

MA Secondary Education, National Louis University

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