An agency in Westlands is helping Kenyan students get into top American universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, MIT, UBC, Mcgill, and The University of Toronto.
AFEX Test Prep is an education-consulting agency that coaches students to sit their Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), which most American and some Canadian universities use to assess the ability of applicants. They also assist students to prepare for the GRE and GMAT test for students who want to apply for Graduate programs in the two countries as well.
AFEX Test Prep, which has offices in Westlands and Karen, was founded in Ghana
In 2019, AFEX Test Prep helped Sandra (Alliance) and Brandon (Brookhouse) get into Princeton. Awour (ISK) and Amy (Turi) got into Yale and Victoria (Brookhouse) who also got into Yale. Twity (Alliance) is going to Bucknell University.
In all in 2019, AFEX Test Prep placed 49 students from Ghana and 17 from Kenya into American colleges. The value of the financial aid awarded to these students over a four-year period will amount to US$22 million.
Joseph Lawson, the Academic Adviser of AFEX, believes that American universities are the best in the world.
“The reason why we chose American and Canadian schools is because they provide opportunities that a lot of other schools in the world do not provide their students. One of such opportunities is internships; most of these schools connect their students with Fortune 500 companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. They also have a strong alumni lifestyle,meaning that even more opportunities are available for their graduates.”
“When you consider student’s varying interests, American universities have what they call the liberal arts tradition. This means that you are given the space in the first two years to explore different subjects. Then in your third year, you can concentrate on one particular area.”
To get into these top universities, you need to stand out from the crowd and American universities are attracted to Kenyan students because they increase diversity in their student body.
“One other key thing that sets the US and Canada apart from other countries, is their emphasis on extra-curricular activities that enhance students’ leadership skills. These admission committees are so fascinated by some of the things our young people do.
"For example, something like climbing mountains. For them [admission committees], it’s a sign of resilience and determination,” says Lawson.
“They believe that students who are interested in making an impact within their community are also a good fit. They are drawn to students who are involved in helping minorities and the vulnerable groups [orphans, elderly, albinos], or keeping their environment clean, planting of trees, these are all fascinating things that they consider before admitting the student .”
Sandra Mwangi worked with AFEX and got into Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell and CALTECH.
One tip that she has for prospective students is to make sure that they have researched the universities they want to attend.
“My advice would be research, research, research. I think knowledge is power definitely. Knowing where to apply, how to apply, when to apply, is very important and people underestimate the power of knowing all these things,” she says.
“It’s definitely possible, people have made it, and one thing that motivates me is that normal people have made it. You don’t have to come from a wealthy family.” Sandra insists
AFEX provides students with SAT preparation in classes in person at their Westlands or Karen offices, or online on Skype or Zoom. Students then sit the SAT exams which usually take place four times a year, at various test centers including BrookHouse school.
If students don’t do well the first time around, they are allowed to take the exams again until they get a good enough result. AFEX charges are very reasonable in relation to what you get from their coaching; a good school and most of the time some scholarship. AFEX guides you through the entire application process which takes between 3 to 6 months.
They assist you with school selection, review the student written essays and navigate through the complicated scholarship forms with parents. American universities often have financial aid options for low income students making it possible for anyone to apply and attend.
“We basically hand-hold our students through the process. When students come to us, we initially do a form of assessment. We look at their extra-curricular activities and profile. The next step is a 6 to 8-week SAT prep program where we teach them tips and strategies for the test. Last year 5 of our students scored top one percent in the world on the SAT exams and 9 had perfect scores in the MATH section of the test. The next 2020 class begins online on JULY 12. After that, is preparation for the college applications,” says Lawson
“Most people tend to believe that it’s a privileged process, that only a select group of people can get into these schools. But the opportunities are there for everyone, your economic status does not matter. You can access these schools and we have proven this both Ghana and Kenya.”
AFEX every year also invites 5 students from low-income backgrounds who scored an average of ‘A’ in their KCSE exams and supports them through the university application process for free. Such students must only prove that they are from low-income backgrounds and provide proof of their academic performance.
After almost a decade of helping students get into Ivy League schools, graduates who went through AFEX now work for companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Wall Street or continue to graduate school for their Masters and PhDs.
Contact details for AFEX TEST PREP
8th Floor, Westcom Point Building,
Mahiga Mairu Avenue,
Off Waiyaki Way (near Safaricom)
Raena Learning Centre,
Karen Professional Centre
Main office tel: 0704 904500/ 0728 230 303
Karen office tel: 0742 866 950
Email: [email protected]