A photo of Tom, a tutor from Harvard University

Tom

Certified Tutor

Call us today to connect with a top tutor
(888) 888-0446

I graduated from Harvard College in May 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in American History and Literature. Though my main academic passions lie in the humanities, throughout my education I have retained a deep interest in a variety of subjects, and have especially enjoyed helping students to master those subjects. In high school I tutored extensively in Math and English, and in high school and college I honed my teaching abilities further by serving as a musical director for various musical theater productions and singing ensembles. Additionally, I invested substantial amounts of time preparing for the SAT and many AP exams: I know the tests well and am excited to explore the varieties of questions with students as they prepare for the exams.

Besides nurturing interests in many academic areas over the years, I have also sharpened strong communication skills by frequently discussing materials with my instructors and fellow students. To check if I've mastered a particular concept, I often try to imagine how I would explain it to others. I believe strong oral communication, along with an enthusiasm for the material, is crucial to a satisfying learning experience, and I look forward to providing this for my students.

Tom’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Harvard University - Bachelors, American History & Literature

Graduate Degree: Boston University - PHD, American Studies

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 2210

SAT Verbal: 750

SAT Writing: 800

GRE Quantitative: 165

GRE Verbal: 169

AP Chemistry: 4

AP Calculus AB: 5

AP Latin: 5

AP English Literature: 5

AP English Language: 4

AP US History: 4

SAT Subject Test in Latin: 730

GRE Analytical Writing: 5

AP Music Theory: 5

AP U.S. Government & Politics: 5

Hobbies

Enjoys singing, playing the piano, and listening to music. Interest in musical theater, reading, and exploring Boston.

Tutoring Subjects

Advanced Placement Prep

Algebra

Algebra 2

American Literature

AP Music Theory

AP U.S. Government & Politics

AP United States History

AP US History

College Algebra

College English

College Essays

College Level American Literature

Comparative Literature

English

English Grammar and Syntax

Essay Editing

Geometry

Graduate Test Prep

GRE

GRE Analytical Writing

GRE Quantitative

GRE Verbal

High School English

High School Level American Literature

Latin 1

Latin 2

Literature

Math

Other

Pre-Algebra

PSAT Critical Reading

PSAT Writing Skills

Quantitative Reasoning

Reading

SAT Reading

SAT Subject Test in Latin

SAT Subject Tests Prep

SAT Writing and Language

Summer

Test Prep

US History

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I am a firm believer that clear, precise communication between student and tutor makes for a productive and fulfilling learning experience. When I work with students, I strive to listen carefully to find out exactly where they are struggling, and to impart corresponding strategies clearly and concisely. I work with them step by step until we zero in on exactly where the problem is occurring, and tailor solutions from there. These collegial and yet very focused discussions go a long way toward helping me to discern where the student needs help and helping the student to master the content he or she must learn, besides ensuring a pleasant and interesting learning experience.

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

During the first session I like to learn about the student's background and interests (hometown, school or work environment, favorite academic subjects, hobbies), and then ask why specifically they are seeking tutoring. What goals do they have? Which concepts or content give them the most trouble? I like them to be as specific as possible about where they encounter difficulty. I also like to ask about what, if any, tutoring experiences they've had in the past, and what they are hoping to get out of their sessions with me specifically. All of this information helps me to figure out how I can best help them achieve their own goals.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

In my opinion, being an independent learner requires two things: 1) curiosity; and 2) knowing about resources that could possibly satisfy that curiosity. In encouraging students to become independent learners, I would ask them to think about what it is they want to discover, know, or learn about more deeply. How can they go a step further to build on the knowledge they already have? And then, I would ask them to think about resources that could help them answer their questions. The Internet is obviously a prodigious tool for discovering much of what we want to know these days, but I would also point students toward specific books, videos, libraries, museums, and other crucially important cultural institutions that could help them satisfy their curiosities.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I like to provide encouragement and affirmation at each step of a challenging task, problem, or group of tasks/problems. We all know from personal experience that learning can be difficult, but it is important to harness our previous knowledge and current achievements as encouragement for moving toward the next steps. I like to remind students of this. Also, if I see that a student has been working hard to learn a particular concept, I will have him or her practice that concept repeatedly for several more questions, so that they can feel a deep sense of mastery and satisfaction. I also think motivation can be very helpfully sustained by taking a problem or question that seems unmanageable at first, and breaking it down into a series of smaller, more manageable steps. This strategy can go a long way toward countering the initial panic that often decreases our motivation.

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

I first try to explain that concept as clearly as I can. Then, I would work slowly and step-by-step through a series of problems, starting with easier ones and then working toward harder ones, that demonstrate that skill. At each step I would ask the student what he or she thinks would be the appropriate action to take as we work toward the solution, and give them the opportunity to try it on their own. If they are really struggling, I'll intervene and ask a series of smaller questions to try and get them to see the correct path to take, or I'll intervene with the path as necessary. Over time, the student should be able to work with that concept more and more independently, and should eventually be able to attack difficult questions without any input from me.

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

I encourage students always to read with a pen or pencil in hand, so that they can underline important information in the texts and make notes in the margins. These notes may consist of thoughts that connect their reading to information they already know, or they may serve as flags for parts of the text which they found challenging or troubling. After a student has read and annotated the text, I ask them to summarize they key points orally. If I still feel that they haven't internalized those key points, I'll ask several questions in an effort to lead them to elements I--and I hope eventually they, too--deem important. As they get into the habit of reading carefully, students will become sharper and more efficient readers.

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

Asking questions that allow the student to be as specific as possible about their own sense of their strengths and weaknesses tends to be a very helpful method for me. I also like them to give me as much detail as possible about what goes through their minds as they attack particular questions or problems, so that I can see for myself how they think and learn. Often students learn in ways that they can't consciously verbalize. But if, in the initial phases of our work together, I can gather information about their learning style both through their own words about their learning and by seeing their learning in action, I am much closer to figuring out which strategies will work best for them during our time together.

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

I would ask them to think of a time when they were both excited and satisfied by the learning they did in this particular subject, and to think about why they enjoyed that moment so much. I would say that my goal would be for them to be able to recreate those moments often in the future, and I'd ask them how they think we could best work together to achieve that goal, because, after all, those moments of excitement propel us on to deeper and deeper learning.

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

I like to ask a series of questions in pretty rapid succession to test if a student really understands the material we've just covered. Most questions will be pretty similar to the ones we've just explored in depth, but with slight variations in content and difficulty. I notice not merely how correct the student is in answering these more improvisatory questions, but also how quickly he or she can answer them, and how confident in the reasoning behind each answer.

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

I like to build a student's confidence in a subject by starting with material I'm pretty sure they can understand without much trouble, and then working from there. I like to provide affirmation at every step, and work incrementally so that the changes in difficulty are themselves difficult to notice. I prefer to use a series of small steps because if the leaps are too large, I find students will get discouraged too easily, to the point of wanting to stop. But if the leaps are reasonable and yet efficient, we can make progress confidently.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate a student's needs pretty simply: by listening to the student and the student's parents, and by watching the student in action as he or she attacks questions and problems. Once I get a strong sense of how a student thinks, I can approach the material in a way that works for them.

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

I like to use a combination of the excellent materials on file from the online platform, questions and problems that I have or remember from preparatory books that I have used in the past, and finally improvisatory questions that I make up off the cuff during our session to provide reinforcement in areas where I think the student still needs extra practice.

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

In order to adapt my tutoring to the student's needs, I simply watch and listen very, very carefully to the student's learning in action, as he or she works on questions and problems--as his or her learning unfolds right in front of me.