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As a member of the entering class at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Dentistry, I understand the importance and challenges of preparing a graduate school application. Even though my main areas of focus are in the sciences, I received my undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Over the past four years I have worked as a tutor and teaching assistant in college Chemistry Departments and independently, helping students in courses ranging from Introductory Inorganic Chemistry to Anatomy, Microbiology, and Organic Chemistry. Because I find it particularly rewarding, this past year I moved my focus almost entirely to working with students on the DAT and OAT, where I've worked both for Kaplan Test Prep as a DAT/OAT instructor and independently as a private tutor. I especially love to help students with GChem, OChem, PAT, and QR! My teaching style tends to reflect my experiences working in science departments: there are very few (if any) people that are born excelling in tough subject areas like chemistry or specific standardized testing, it's almost always a matter of how much experience you've had and knowing how to study. One of my main motivations for working with DAT/OAT students is because I find it extremely rewarding to help students with test anxiety and/or who are unsure of their abilities. I also love helping my students in all parts of the admissions process, including picking schools, reviewing applications, and looking over personal statements.

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Heather’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelor in Arts, Philosophy, Ethnic Studies

Test Scores

DAT Perceptual Ability: 23

DAT Quantitative Reasoning: 21

DAT Reading Comprehension: 21

DAT: 22


Hiking, spending time with friends, playing guitar, working on cars, and being outdoors with my family and dogs

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade

11th Grade

12th Grade


Cell Biology


CLEP Chemistry

College Biology

College Chemistry

College Essays


DAT Perceptual Ability

DAT Quantitative Reasoning

DAT Reading Comprehension

DAT Survey of the Natural Sciences

Essay Editing



Evolutionary Biology

General Biology

General Chemistry

Graduate Test Prep

High School

High School Biology

High School Chemistry


OAT Quantitative Reasoning

OAT Reading Comprehension

OAT Survey of Natural Sciences



Social Sciences


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I am a firm believer in teaching critical thinking skills -- it's about helping the student find what methods work best for their specific learning style, but doing so in a way that fosters the growth of their own confidence and ability.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I use the Socratic Method. A student won't learn if you passively give them information. My teaching methods are about giving challenging but rewarding sessions that build the student's confidence in the subject.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

When a student has a difficulty, there are a few important issues to address. First, you need to get to the bottom of what fundamental problems they have with understanding or working through the skill or concept. Second, when a student has a particular difficulty, it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy (particularly with certain science subjects). It's SO important to help the student realize that they CAN learn and apply this concept -- it's about confidence building.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

I had one student who was convinced they would never be able to do well in reading comprehension. We went back to the basics and practiced outlines, structure, and how to recognize clues. Then, it was about strategy! There are so many different ways to approach reading comprehension, and I believe that you need to try a few of them to find what works (and what doesn't work!) for you.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

With a new student, I usually go over their goals, concerns, and main trouble areas. I prepare a range of practice problems so the student and I can get a better idea of where to start!

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Making small goals is always the key! Doing difficult problem after difficult problem can be draining. I prefer to give students a challenge, but also make sure that we're doing a lot of confidence building. After all, the DAT/OAT/etc. is part knowledge and part strategy!

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

To make sure a student understands the materials, I consistently give practice problems. If a student brings up a problem to me and I'm unsure whether they understand it completely, I will ask them what the answer would be if given a variety of different scenarios/conditions! This way we're not only covering the understanding of that one specific question, but the understanding of the topic area!

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Tutoring is all about adapting! Students can have very different learning styles, and it's about teaching a student in a way that they most efficiently and systematically understand and learn the material. I adapt my methods in terms of question type, how I ask questions, what kind of 'take home' questions/assignments I ask them to do, and how I help them approach the questions!

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I try to use the materials the students are using. But, I also suggest the materials I know will work! I have a large library of DAT/OAT, OChem, GChem, and Philosophy books and materials I use with my students. I encourage them to bring their own materials, but I always have outside materials (textbooks, problem books, test-prep resources, online programs, etc.) I can use.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I think that tutoring in the sciences takes a lot of practice to be able to help students quickly and effectively. I've learned where the trouble spots tend to be, how they can be misinterpreted, and how to work with students to easily understand them. I think that one of the strategies that is most important when starting to work with a student is showing them through problems that they can get through the material! It's about building confidence.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

The number one thing is showing students that not only can they actually accomplish the material, but it doesn't need to be as hard as they thought it was! When students stop stressing about their abilities and see their own success, they get more excited about the material!

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Practice, practice, practice! We start with easier questions and work our way through the material. Students can become intimidated by science courses, but finding out they can really accomplish the material in a quick and efficient way goes a long way to building their confidence.

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