Monday, August 21

Test prep utopia Hyperlearning to merge with Princeton Review


Tuesday, October 15, 1996

MERGER:

MCAT gurus, test masters spell double trouble for competitionBy
Jennifer Mukai

Daily Bruin Contributor

Almost 10 years ago, a pair of young graduate students founded a
company that would help college students study effectively for the
Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Stephen Leduc, of MIT, and
John Smart, of UC Berkeley, called their new corporation
Hyperlearning, Inc.

Hyperlearning now offers the most popular medical test
preparation course in the Southern California area. And it’s about
to get bigger.

Officials announced Sunday that Hyperlearning, Inc. will merge
with The Princeton Review, a nationwide educational services
company that prepares students for anything from the PSAT to the
LSAT to the GRE.

The merger will result in a single, intensive MCAT preparatory
course, combining the best features of the Hyperlearning and
Princeton Review programs.

Hyperlearning specializes in powerful science-based courses,
while the Princeton Review is renowned for its test-taking
strategies. Paul Kanarek, president of the Princeton Review of
Orange County, emphasized that in many respects, the Princeton
Review hasn’t taken over Hyperlearning; rather, Hyperlearning has
taken over the Princeton Review’s MCAT courses.

"Hyperlearning already has the best product on the market, much
better than ours, and they kicked our ass from one side of the
campus to the other to prove it," Kanarek said. He went on to state
that Hyperlearning’s baseline methodology and faculty will remain
largely intact, providing students with a strong science
foundation.

"Our goal," he said, "is to overprepare students so that nothing
can intimidate them, but if something does, they will have the
Princeton Review’s (test-taking) techniques and strategies to fall
back on."

The Princeton Review will also be providing Hyperlearning with
more advanced technology and more extensive research and
development resources. Leduc, who is now president of
Hyperlearning, Inc., is excited at the new software which will
supplement the Princeton Review’s famous practice exams. Called
"Caduceus," it will not only supply test scores, but will actually
give a breakdown of those scores, thus giving students an idea of
where their strengths and weaknesses lie so they can study
accordingly.

Leduc pointed out that while the Princeton Review has a whole
list of exam-preparation classes, Hyperlearning just focuses on the
MCAT and LSAT.

This specialization has paid off for Hyperlearning, currently
the biggest MCAT test prep company in California with about 75
percent of the San Diego market and 45 percent of the Los Angeles
market.

So what else sets Hyperlearning’s classes apart from other test
prep courses? According to Leduc, Hyperlearning starts from
scratch, helping students relearn material they might have learned
years ago.

"I designed the course with the student in mind," said Leduc.
"People hate physics; I’ve been there. (Other prep courses) expect
you to have an intuitive mastery of the basics. Someone who offers
you a quick review is not doing you a service."

The new program will continue to break material down into
classes four days a week. Different subjects will be covered from
day to day. Organic chemistry might be covered one day, physics the
next and biology the next. The cycle will begin all over again the
following week. Instructors hope to discipline students by forcing
them to go through the material each day in class rather than just
throwing it at them to take home and study.

The new program will also offer more flexibility in scheduling.
Students will be able to choose between a 12-week course of 105
hours total, or a 10-week course of 75 hours.

Both Leduc and Kanarek have nothing but praise for their
faculty, all of whom must meet very strict requirements.
Instructors must be a specialist in their field, generally hold a
Master’s Degree or higher, and, Kanarek said, "have almost a
theatrical quality," as they have the "hardest job of all ­
keeping the material vibrant and interesting."

Kanarek insisted that the cost of the new program will not
change. Before the merger was ever announced, Hyperlearning set its
price at $895 for its course ­ a cost lower than the Princeton
Review’s, he admitted.

Combined marketing efforts have already begun, trumpeting the
new merger. The documents themselves, "merely a formality at this
point," according to Leduc, will be signed in about a week and a
half. The first of the new courses will begin in January in
preparation for the April exam.

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