I am a classroom teacher who has spent the last ten years tutoring/educating students with a variety of learning needs. I specialize in figuring out what specific learning strategies work for different students. I can help you go from good to great as I have consistently scored in the 99th percentile for several graduate school tests.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Minnesota-Twin Cities - Bachelors, Economics
ACT Composite: 34
ACT English: 31
ACT Math: 36
ACT Reading: 32
ACT Science: 36
GRE Verbal Reasoning: 170
GRE Quantitative Reasoning: 169
GRE Analytical Writing: 6
Tennis, Netflix, Friends
CLEP College Mathematics
CLEP Principles of Macroeconomics
CLEP Principles of Microeconomics
College Application Essays
College Political Science
GED Social Studies
GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment
GMAT Integrated Reasoning
PRAXIS Content Math
PRAXIS Core Math
Study Skills and Organization
US Constitutional History
What is your teaching philosophy?
It is more important that students learn how to solve problems rather than just memorizing facts or formulas. All students are smart in their own way and, teaching should be catered to how students best understand. Ultimately students should understand why what they are learning is important.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Ideally before a first session I would have the student try a practice test under timed conditions. I would then break down each section into question type to see where the student is struggling the most. If the student is not familiar with the test/subject, it is important to introduce the format of the test/importance of the subject. I would then break down future lessons based on trouble areas. The first class would review a subject that is the most tangible and formulaic, and future classes would grow until the last class, covering the most abstract problems requiring the most creative solutions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
First it needs to be stressed that a student's improvement will be directly affected by how much effort he/she puts in both in and out of class. A student who does not understand the importance of what they are doing or sees no growth in their test preparation will lose motivation and ultimately will not do well. One of the best ways to encourage students to learn outside of teaching sessions is to provide them with questions/homework to have prepared for next class. This should be a mix of both simple and complicated concepts so they are still challenged but they are not demoralized.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
First the student needs to learn the importance and the real world repercussions for what they are learning. By pulling in interesting problems and real world scenarios, a student is more likely to seek out more information regarding the topic. Also it is important to be honest with the student about their feedback; if they are improving on a subject it is important that it is noticed and vocalized.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Most complicated problems have simpler roots. I would start by breaking down the problem into questions that I know the student can answer easily. By walking them through the logic at first, it shows the student that they have all the tools needed to solve the problem. If I see that the student misses a similar question multiple times on practice problems, I would create similar problems and assign very specific homework to tackle that section.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
One of the best ways to improve reading comprehension is to practice. Luckily there are so many practice sets available for reading comprehension and a manageable number of unique question stems. Through practice the student will learn to recognize what is important to remember while reading the passage. One of the hardest parts about standardized testing reading comprehension sections is time. Practice will also help students have a better feel for how fast they need to be answering questions to reach their target score. Higher-level students should be encouraged to read articles and short stories that they find outside of test preparation materials to help them with general comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I usually start my student off with some sort of proficiency test that closely mimics the real standardized test. Most standardized tests are highly formulaic in how they test different concepts. I would break down where a student had the most issues and start from there. It is also important to make the student feel comfortable working with you. I try to encourage an environment where the student knows it is alright to interrupt me with questions. I also try to learn what the student finds interesting and try to connect teaching material to something they find exciting.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It is important to learn what a student finds interesting. The vast majority of jobs and other future paths require some degree of problem solving with some degree of creativity. By showing the student the connection between how to approach a problem on a test and how to approach a problem in real life, the student can start to generalize problems and not suffer through as much boredom. Depending on the subject, I also try to come equipped with fun facts regarding certain topics which I have found in the past to be helpful in encouraging students.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would start by breaking down any test preparation they have done so far and pinpoint which areas they are struggling in. If I find the student struggles with a specific question stem/type within a topic, I would pull 3-5 similar questions from other tests and have the student do them for homework. I would keep track of each practice test the student takes and make sure they are improving in the topic we covered over the last teaching session(s). Within an hour session I may also reword a question or create a more complicated question stem using a similar premise and see how well they are applying what they have learned.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I find positive reinforcement to be key to a student's motivation and mood. When they answer a problem correctly that other students find challenging, I would make sure they knew it so they feel confident answering similar questions. If there is a particularly difficult question/topic, I would start by breaking it down into simpler questions that I know the student understands. When the student is able to piece together the logic of the broken down complicated question, they will know that they are already equipped with the proper problem solving capabilities and they just need to learn how to apply them.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First it is important that a student sets goals. These need to be tangible (i.e. scoring a 165 on the LSAT) and measurable (my first practice test was a 158, and three months later I scored a 166 on my practice test). Fortunately, many of these standardized tests are formulaic, and so they are easy to break down into different question groups. This makes it easy to identify where the student struggles the most, and identifies their highest learning potential.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I usually start with a general concept/topic and then draw the focus on where the student tends to struggle specifically. I would start with broader concepts the student finds challenging because solving these helps increase your results significantly. If there is an especially high achieving student, I would give them plenty of supplementary material and would not be scared about giving them challenging problems. For example, in the LSAT I would start with the broad concept of assumption questions. If the student struggles with assumption questions in general I would focus my attention on making sure they can solve at least the simplest/mid-level difficulty questions. For a student who wants a 180, I would focus on the hardest questions of the section which are vital in maximizing your score.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I make sure to use every practice test available to me. When teaching a standardized test, it is important to make sure that a student is growing over time. Practice tests that mimic the real test help the student build confidence and help identify problem areas. If a student struggles with solving a set of linear equations, I might create or choose 3-5 similar problems that mimic this and walk through the structure with the student. Many students learn a lot better with a visual component. I would use some sort of white board/drawing application to walk through my logic with the student. Ultimately the best tutoring sessions are where I spend 30 minutes to an hour preparing for the session and making sure I have an abundance of question material ready for the student.