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I am an English and essay writing tutor available to help with English and language arts assignments, grammar, essay writing, literary analysis, and ACT and SAT writing and reading. In 2011, I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Macalester College in English language and Literature. Before tutoring with Varsity Tutors, I tutored for another private company. I am an excellent tutor because I remember distinctly what it was like to be a student and can both empathize with their frustrations and help them to move past those blocks and toward a greater understanding of the material. I believe in my students and genuinely care about their success, which shows in my work. My patience and willingness to adjust my approach to help different learning styles has also been a useful asset in the past.

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Zoe’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Macalester College - Bachelors, English

Test Scores

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1460

SAT Writing: 760


Writing, drawing, painting, singing, playing video games (occasionally), swimming.

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade Writing

11th Grade Writing

12th Grade Writing

1st Grade Math

2nd Grade Math

2nd Grade Writing

3rd Grade Math

4th Grade Writing

5th Grade Writing

6th Grade Writing

7th Grade Writing

8th Grade Writing

9th Grade Writing

ACT English

ACT Writing

CLEP Introductory Psychology

College English

College Essays

Comparative Literature

Creative Writing

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Writing


English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Fiction Writing

High School English

High School Writing


Middle School Writing



SAT Writing and Language

Social Sciences

Test Prep

World Religions


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe that patience, empathy, and a sense of humor are incredibly important. My goal is to build confidence as well as content knowledge in any areas where students are struggling.

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

During the first session, I like to gather as much information as possible about what the student is struggling with. After narrowing down a few topics, I will look at any assignment sheets, syllabuses, rubrics, teacher comments, and graded assignments the student has to make sure we know where to focus our efforts. Once we've done that together, I like to set some short-term and long-term goals with the student. This helps to make sure that we aim high but remain realistic so the student will not get discouraged. We will figure out what deserves the highest priority together, and then we will get to work.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

My job as a tutor is not to give students answers but to help students develop the strategies needed to arrive at answers. Sometimes I will work through a sample problem with the student and then ask them to use those same steps on a new problem, giving them lots of practice with independent problem-solving while I'm still there to help if things are still confusing.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I think it's important to remind students that they are capable and that some concepts take time to fully master. My job is to stay positive even when students feel frustrated so that they know I believe they can succeed.

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

Sometimes when students particularly struggle with new concepts, it is because they are out-of-practice or rusty with more fundamental concepts. For example, if a student's paper isn't flowing right, he may need a general review about commas or sentence structure before we can tackle the full essay.

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

This would depend on whether we were reading fiction or nonfiction. In either situation, I talk to the student about finding the main idea of a passage so that we can answer the basic question of "what is this about?" Once we know what the writer is talking about, we can discuss the tone, why the writer may have written the passage, and the opinions/feelings the writer is trying to get across. In fiction, I often encourage students to underline (or write down) character names and locations that come up. Once they have a firm grasp on who's involved in the story and where it's happening, it can be easier to focus on what is happening to those characters. By zeroing in on the main idea, the focus, the tone, the characters, and so forth, it becomes easier for students to see the "big picture" when reading rather than becoming distracted by smaller details.

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

I find that it helps to ask questions about what the student is struggling with and to never make assumptions. I also like to try working through problems like the ones the student is working with before I offer explanations. This saves time later because it ensures that the advice I offer is tailored to the problem the student is having.

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

I think a lot of reading and writing assignments can seem "boring" until students really understand what's going on and feel confident in their skills. Finding ways to make literature relatable to students is a great strategy for reading, and finding interesting topics that students feel passionate about is a great strategy for writing assignments.

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

This depends on what the student is studying. I have a grammar book and some other resources I bring along when students need help with parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation. For ACT/SAT help, I like to print off test questions for us to work with.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

First, I ask students what they are struggling with. Once I have a general idea, I ask to look at any assignment sheets, rubrics, graded tests or other assignments, and teacher comments that might provide clues about what needs to be done. When we're ready to start working, I ask lots of questions to make sure I know what the student does and does not need to review.

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

Sometimes a technique that has worked with 20 other students will simply not do the trick with a new student. That's okay! Everyone learns differently. When this happens, I tend to ask questions to find out what isn't making sense and what part of my explanation lost the student. I am very flexible and willing to find new ways to explain material if the first explanation does not help.

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

I like to make sure that students seem confident answering questions/solving problems on their own before moving on to a new topic.

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

Most of the time, even students who are really struggling do understand some of the concepts they are working with. When looking at a larger assignment like an essay or an ACT practice test, I like to begin by talking about what the student did well. Maybe the student did a fantastic job with commas, had a great thesis statement, or makes a strong argument in their essay. Once we've established the student's strengths, we can move on to talking about weaknesses. I have always found that "you did such a fabulous job with your thesis and your word-choice that it's really the commas that are holding you back! Let's fix those commas so this paper can be even better" is more encouraging than simply saying "your commas need work."

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