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Alex

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I hold a BA from Rice University (summa cum laude, with honors) and an MA in English Literature from Rutgers University, where I am expecting to complete my PhD within the year. I offer tutoring for English or AP English classes, and writing assignments for any class at any level, as well as SAT, GRE and GRE Literature preparation.
Rutgers is an extremely selective and competitive English program that requires its students to write at the level of the most elite academic journals and to independently develop syllabi for teaching, so I am uniquely qualified to help students at any level improve their writing and literacy skills. As an undergraduate at Rice, I worked with the writing department as a tutor for students in introductory writing and humanities courses. I have also worked as a tutor for elementary and middle school students in a variety of subjects during time as an undergrad. As a graduate student, I have taught five semesters of writing courses designed for incoming freshmen. I teach students the fundamentals of essay writing: making logical arguments, using evidence, constructing proper paragraphs, etc. I am especially vigilant about eradicating common writing errors and helping students improve their vocabulary and prose style. My specialty is, of course, English literature, and I have taught several semesters of literature courses for Rutgers undergraduates. Helping students develop an appreciation for great novels, poetry, and drama is not only my career but my passion! But even for students who don't love the books they are assigned, I believe it is important, as a life skill, to know how to discuss literature critically. Of course, good standardized test scores are useful too, and I understand from my own experience what skills are necessary to succeed on the SAT, GRE and Lit GRE.
When I am not reading, writing, or teaching, I love to travel. In the past year alone I've been to 18 countries across Europe and Asia. Now that I'm back in New York, after a summer of research in London, I'm getting reacquainted with the Giants and Knicks (did I mention I'm a native New Yorker?), working on my cooking skills, and practicing foreign languages (French and Russian for now). Looking forward to meeting you!

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Alex’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Rice University - Bachelors, English

Graduate Degree: Rutgers University-New Brunswick - PHD, English

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 2310

SAT Math: 800

SAT Verbal: 780

SAT Writing: 730

SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1: 720

SAT Subject Test in Biology E/M: 740

Hobbies

Reading fiction, writing short stories, photography, perfecting French and learning Russian, walking around Manhattan, playing pick-up basketball.


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I have found, especially in subjects like writing and reading comprehension, that students are generally more capable than they believe themselves to be. My approach is to lead students through simple questions to help them make important breakthroughs on their own terms and develop the critical thinking skills to self-edit.

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

I might ask the student to show me something he or she has been assigned, and ask to see how he or she would instinctively begin to work on it. I would like to know what the student would identify as his or her strengths and weaknesses, and see how I can work with the student's own instincts to help him or her work more effectively.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I believe in learning as a practice that cannot be reduced to a classroom experience. To learn languages, for instance, I watch YouTube videos, look at funny blogs, and do other non-academic activities in that language. To help students become stronger writers, I might ask them to write down their thoughts (about friends, movies, life in general) more often and to recognize what a compelling argument looks and sounds like.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Students at all levels need to know that there are purely selfish reasons to be educated. These reasons aren't just getting into schools and getting jobs, but living a more interesting and fulfilling life. Being able to write and think critically are skills that can be ENJOYED, not just graded or tested.

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

I'd ask that student to look back at some earlier work and try to identify some discrete improvements: perhaps a piece of knowledge, or a writing error that has been corrected. Being able to recognize learning as it happens is crucial for students to stay engaged.

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

Sometimes students, or all people really, will too quickly deem something as "too difficult" or "too complicated." The best way to combat this pessimism is to break things down into the smallest components. If you can understand a sentence, you can understand a paragraph. If you can understand each word, you can understand a sentence. Once the source of difficulty can be identified, at the level of the word, then developing understanding can become a simple step-by-step exercise.

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

I want students to know that I, like most educators, am on their side. I never want a student to think that I am there to judge and correct them arbitrarily. Rather, I try to impart upon them from the first meeting that I'm someone who is a student myself, and everything I do with them is something I've gone through myself.

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

I would help them find the aspect or dimension of it that is potentially interesting to them. Sometimes students can be turned off by certain details relating to content, without realizing that the ideas they are being asked to consider might actually be relevant to their lives.

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

I try to get students to understand ideas in their own words, so that they are not merely repeating ideas, but internalizing them.

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

Getting students to realize any progress they have made goes a long way. No one is a perfect writer, but it always makes me feel more confident to look at the difference between my work 5 years ago and today. If a student can see even a small error that he or she no longer makes, morale is improved.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

By observing how that student would go about an assignment without my aid. I check to see what hang-ups arise or what kinds of mistakes seem to occur repeatedly.

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

I'm very flexible. I can create strict programs for improving specific competencies, or I can talk through problems casually.

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

For writing, I like to provide concise handouts that diagram a specific problem, for instance, how to properly quote a source or how to fix a comma splice.


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