I am currently a PhD candidate completing my doctorate at Yale University in the Medieval Studies department and has previously obtained masters degrees in English Literature and Medieval Studies from Yale, The University of Georgia, and the University of Glasgow. An Atlanta native, I returned from New Haven to live and work in Georgia while I finish the final stages of his dissertation. Over the course of my studies, I have taught undergraduate literature and history as an instructor at Yale, the University of Georgia, Oxford University, the University of Glasgow, the University of Connecticut, and Wesleyan College (Macon, Georgia).
At the same time, I have worked as a teacher and tutor for the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE for over thirteen years. I am one of two authors of the all-new revision of Barrons GMAT guide and Barrons Passkey to the GMAT, and have previously written content for Kaplan, Parliament Tutors, and Success Prep. Because of my lengthy experience, I am intimately familiar with the methods and principles used by the major test preparation companies and have developed a variety of methods of his own. I take a different approach from the major national test prep companies in that I recognize that each student is different and that no single method is best for all test-takers. Come test day, the most successful students will be those who have found ways to combine their own native strengths with an additional complement of of time-tested techniques learned through rigorous study. I enjoy helping my students find the approach that will allow them to meet confidently their future educational goals.
I live in midtown Atlanta, near Emory, with my brother and a sulky, spoiled hound dog.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Georgia - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: Yale University - PHD, Medieval Studies
hiking, medieval literature, canoeing, stand up comedy
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I genuinely believe that most students can learn most things, and its the job of the tutor to figure out what's getting in the way of the student learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Usually, first sessions are diagnostic. We work through a few questions, talking through the student's thought process, so that I can get a better handle on what's stopping the student from succeeding.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Lots of students say, "It's so easy when you're here with me, but...," and they're right. One on one, I can ask gently leading questions and provide moments of encouragement to get the student to see the right answer. A lot of my job is to help the student develop their own "inner voice" that guides them through the process when I'm not around.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Test prep can be a slog. A lot of the improvement happens late in the process, and it can be discouraging when you take several practice exams in a row and don't see huge improvement. My job is to help students through those times, to show them the ways that they are improving, even if it doesn't show up immediately in the score, to prepare them for that future where their scores actually will increase.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If learning were just a matter of being presented with the information, there wouldn't be any need for tutors and teachers. You could just watch a video and learn anything you wanted. Tutors come in when those difficulties arise. It's my job to figure out exactly what's standing in the way of the student's comprehension, to get "inside their head" and see where the disconnect is. Sometimes that means explaining things in a different way. Sometimes it means going back to a simpler concept or example and trying to build up from there. Sometimes it means recognizing when the student's getting burned out, and it's time to put the subject at hand aside for a moment and return to it when it would be more fruitful.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The key to reading comprehension on standardized tests is understanding the limitations these questions operate under. It's not like reading in your day-to-day life. I help students learn which pieces of information given are "testable" and the rules they'll be tested by.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The most important first step is learning where a student is coming from--how long have they been studying on their own, what has worked and hasn't, what their goals and ambitions are. After that, I usually work through sample questions, getting the student to walk me through how they think about the questions and what their individual thought process is. Only when I feel like I can understand what my students see when they look at a question do I feel like I can begin to help them.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I tend to teach mostly test preparation, so the biggest motivating factor is the score--what score do you need to get into the school of your dreams? Obviously, enthusiasm can lag, and sometimes studying becomes a slog. Burnout is a real thing that has to be combated. For me, that often means refocusing the student's efforts on smaller skill areas, switching gears, and approaching material from a different vantage point. If the student ever feels like they're banging their head against a wall trying to get the score they want, then I'm not doing my job well.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
You have to check in with the student constantly, making sure they understand not just what the answer to a specific question is, but how the question works, how they would be able to duplicate the process they use with a tutor when the tutor's not available. Lots of students say, "It's easy when you're here to help...," and they're right. One on one, I can ask probing or leading questions, gently offering hints and encouragement The key to really helping a student is helping them build that 'inner voice' so that they know what to ask themselves when they get stuck and how to regain confidence by refocusing on the task at hand.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Mastery is the key to confidence. I want all my students to feel like they're masters of the material, like they know the test they're studying for inside and out. They're never surprised and disheartened by a new question because they know the rules that all questions work by. They understand the mind of the test maker and how to beat them.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
No two students are the same, and no set of techniques will help every student. The key to evaluating a student's needs is being responsive, really listening to what they're saying as they work through the material.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Students are different. Some need me to hold their hand every step of the way; others just need someone to bounce their ideas or impressions off of. Some need specific homework assignments for every hour of self-study; others just need suggestions for materials and methods. I try to listen to the student carefully, to make sure I'm giving them what they need, not just delivering the same one-size-fits-all lectures they could get elsewhere.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Practice questions, from the actual testmakers if possible! Of course, sometimes a student needs to drill a specific part of a skill (for example, calculating a percent increase, or working with a logic games sketch to attack a specific question type) and I often end up crafting specially tailored drills that just focus on the one small part that's holding them back.