I have a great deal of experience teaching university philosophy/logic courses, and helping students get better at the LSAT and GRE, mainly from when I was getting my doctorate in philosophy at the University of Arizona. My main goal is to keep students from being intimidated or stressed by these standardized tests: they're very predictable, and a little guidance makes it easy to improve your skills and get more points. I like to keep the atmosphere pretty light, but the focus is always on how to find correct answers for this or that type of question. I have experience tutoring the SAT and the GMAT, I'm currently training for the ACT (I'm more than ready to tutor the math sections), and I get a kick out of the fancy vocabulary on the GRE, but the LSAT is the most up my alley: argument analysis, careful reading, and formal logic. When I'm not tutoring or doing philosophy, I like listening to music, studying Czech, watching movies, learning about history, or spending time on the Internet.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Alabama - Bachelor in Arts, Philosophy (minor: Economics)
Graduate Degree: University of Arizona - PHD, Philosophy
Music, Czech, History, Comedy
GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment
GMAT Integrated Reasoning
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I find it helpful to give a high-level overview of what needs to be learned, then take a very careful step-by-step walk through it, and finally sum up of the main points worth remembering. Some students will be quick enough to get it right away and I can speed up the walk-through, but it's useful for everyone to go through things properly and methodically.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
For standardized tests, I begin by seeing what sections are giving the most trouble. Then I focus on a section, and go through the different types/formats of questions that can be expected. Then, for most of the session, we talk about strategies and shortcuts to get correct answers quickly.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
We go back to basics. These skills are always built on something more fundamental. So if we practice the fundamentals, we not only reinforce those skills for easier questions, but we build a bridge to more difficult questions. It's not as if the student is utterly incapable of learning the skill/concept; it's just that we've found an area that requires additional practice and discussion.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find that an overview of the entire test is useful so that the student has a rough idea of what to expect. Then we can zero in on any sections that can be expected to present a special challenge.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes it is useful to see a test or a subject as a game. If all you're trying to do is learn the rules of the game and get more points, there is less stress in learning. And once you improve your skills, it's natural to take an interest in the goals of the game for their own sake, and appreciate why the subject is worthwhile.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Practice makes perfect. If a student sees the same type of problem again and again, and begins to go through the steps on their own, they are halfway there. If they can walk me through a problem on their own, as if I were their student, then they have achieved understanding.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically use practice materials from the testmakers themselves and from test prep companies. Of course, it's always good to be able to explain the material in a different way if necessary, but usually there is no substitute for the actual questions the test tends to ask.