Student works through a problem in the ACT Test Prep Class July 2017The instructor clicks to the next geometry slide showing a simple shape with angles and dotted lines. It probably shouldn’t be that hard.

But to someone who hasn’t encountered a problem like this in years, and for whom math was never a strong suit, it’s a heart-racing, sweaty-palm, insecurity-inducing roadblock.

Yet the students scattered throughout the classroom are confident. They’ve already sat through three days of this material. Their minds are refreshed; they remember that a quadrilateral has 360 degrees. Heck, they actually remember what a quadrilateral is.

The material is part of the ACT test prep program offered through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Center for Professional Education. The center partners with Educational Testing Consultants (ETC) to provide preparation for the ACT as well as the LSAT, GMAT and GRE.

“If you look at the Chattanooga community, there’s a need for these programs,” says Jeff Grant, program coordinator for UTC’s Center for Professional Education. “We’re trying to make it as successful as possible. And, if you look at other vendors, their prices are much higher than what we offer. So we’re trying to fulfill a need here.”

Serving local students and professionals

Since the Center for Professional Education began the test prep program last year, an estimated 50 to 60 area high school students have come to campus to prepare for their ACTs.

The courses are quick refreshers on subjects covered on the tests, but more importantly, they teach test-taking strategy.

ACT test prep instructor Ryan Gallagher works through a problem with students July 2017In this ACT test prep course, instructor Ryan Gallagher is quick to point out how to best approach each problem as he works through them with students.

Gallagher, who also has experience teaching speech, biology, chemistry and music to high schoolers, presents another geometry problem. This time, there are no shapes, just words. He reminds the visual learners of how they can use their scrap paper to draw the shape and begin attacking the problem in a way that works best for them.

With these strategies in hand, even if the test-taker isn’t the most confident on a specific subject, they will be less likely to have that blinding, brain-freezing reaction to a problem. Instead, they’ll know how to attack it head on.

“Our curriculum is designed by test-writing experts with experience writing items for the GRE, GMAT and LSAT — among other state and national tests,” explains ETC CEO Steven Shotts.

Flexible and convenient

The Center for Professional Education offers the convenience of on site preparation programs for UTC students or folks out in the Chattanooga community, as well as “live-online” courses to reach a wider region of test-takers who aren’t on campus or right next door.

“We call our programs ‘live-online’ to emphasize the fact that, while the classes are delivered online, they are taught by a live teacher in real time, sometimes called synchronous learning. Students can still ask questions and interact with their teacher and peers,” says Shotts.

Through the Center for Professional Education and ETC partnership, free strategy workshops are also offered for those preparing to take the LSAT and GRE. For more information, visit their website here.

The Center for Professional Education

UTC’s Center for Professional Development is relatively new to campus. Founded in 2016, the center provides professional and workforce development training in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. It is committed to providing training programs that are valuable to workers in a variety of industries.


ETC offers test preparation services to universities primarily through continuing education departments and divisions. The company offers more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it tailors test preparation courses to meet the specific needs of each university and community. ETC also funnels some of the proceeds from their revenue-generating test prep classes into such programs as free workshops.

Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.

Sarah is a staff writer in UTC's Office of Communications and Marketing.

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