I graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University. My degree was in philosophy, my minor in economics, and I took upper level math classes for entrance into economics grad school. In short, I have tremendous experience taking standardized tests (Scoring in the 99% of the LSAT) and academic tests (I completed my Wake Forest degree with a 3.8 GPA).
My experience working with students began in high school, where for four years I taught and mentored ice hockey players ages 6-14 in year round clinics and camps. Then, during college, I spent a semester in South America and paid my daily expenses through tutoring Chilean high school students in English.
Studying for an important test is not a question of innate ability as much as it is about knowing how to maximize effort. I believe the value of a tutor comes from his ability to provide the most effective tutorials as well as his ability to analyze his student's unique learning style and approach and offer observation and advice. When it comes to studying for the LSAT, it's 33% learning the test, 33% sustaining motivation, and 34% evaluation of one's approach/style. As a tutor, I see my job as supporting a student in all three ways, more like a personal trainer than a teacher. I've seen how to improve 10 deciles on standardized test--enough to change your options to the next tier of schools--in 3 months.
I spent 3 months and 450 hours studying the LSAT. Some of it was very productive, some of it wasn't . As students prepare to embark on a long investment of their time and efforts on this incredibly decisive test, I want to share what I learned about the test, and what I learned about study methods, to maximize their time spent preparing and boosting their chances of going to the school they belong.
I break my approach to the LSAT down into three parts over three months. I run students through a diagnostic questionnaire to asses their strengths, commitment and availability. I recommend a core set of materials, provide encouragement throughout the studying process, and keep data on progress to best support a student through her training. Typically, one only takes the LSAT once, maybe twice. That means that you get one 3 month period to prepare. Don't be caught 2 months in feeling like you could have made more progress had you approached studying differently. Get support from someone who's been through the process. Let's work together!
Wake Forest University - Bachelors, Philosophy
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I like to get to know the student by hearing about his interests, motivations for studying, and experiences with the test/subject in the past. From here I like to make some diagnostics, and then plan out a schedule that the student feels confident he can stick to until he meets his goals. If time is left over, we can then begin to get into some material.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Each student comes with a personal set of strengths and challenges. Having someone observe, probe and discover these characteristics and then share them with the student allows her to make sense of her learning experience. It gives her the power to see through the frustrations into the mechanics of what causes particular difficulties; this gives her agency to overcome previous obstacles with her own solutions. I help students become independent learners through helping them understand their own critical thinking style.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I always believe a student is motivated when there is a human element to learning. Very few students learn for the "sake of learning," they learn because they connect emotionally with the material, or see academic success as a doorway to a great personal opportunity. Understanding how to connect to a subject, or maintaining a perspective on the larger purpose, are both great ways to keep a student motivated through the learning process.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When a student has difficulty with one particular area, it is important not to treat the area as insuperable. We all have little quirks to our learning style that might make one particular item hard to grasp. But by attacking the item from more and more angles, looking for new ways to connect the concept to the student's previous knowledge, all without making the concept seem "daunting" is how I like to help students with a particularly tricky skill or concept.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in playing more the role of a coach than a teacher. I contribute the motivation, knowledge of the most effective drills, and previous experience training for the test and the student brings the performance!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When it comes to reading comprehension there are three skills needed. First is endurance, which is honed through lots of practice. Second is being able to connect to the material, which requires personalizing the interaction with the text - understanding it as someone's attempt to inform or persuade you, just like in conversation. Third is questioning the text, which means learning the right questions to ask to help tease out the authors viewpoint, assumptions, motivations and biases.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I believe connecting with a student goes a long way! It's hard enough to engage a boring test, so making it personal, reminding the student why she is taking the test, and taking moments to recall and celebrate the end goal and purpose of test training is really healthy through the preparation process!
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes tests or concepts can overwhelm a student to the point of feeling despondent or helpless. But there is nothing that can't be learned! So step number one is to cut the tricky concept down to size so that we never forget it can be conquered!