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I am a professional tutor with years of experience. I have helped students jump letter grades and improve as much as 8 composite points on the ACT and 200 points on the SAT. I have over 6 years and 1000 hours of test prep experience and over 6 years of experience tutoring math up to and including calculus, various science subjects, English, and Spanish. I like to meet all the tutoring needs of a student. This includes covering not only the academic subjects (including math, science, and language) and test prep (ACT and SAT) but also assisting with study skills and organization. I also have experience in working with students with various learning disabilities, including ADD/ADHD. I have helped students in all levels of courses, including honors and AP levels.

My tutoring methods focus on customizing my lesson plan to what works best for that particular student. There are several ways to teach any one concept, and I focus on finding what will work best for that student. I truly love what I do. Being able to work with a student and see their confidence grow as they learn and build their skills is a privilege. I have a history of developing great relations with students, and, in the process, have raised both their grades and test scores significantly.

I have many, many hours of test prep experience, particularly in ACT and SAT prep. Many students, prior to test prep tutoring, receive a score on these tests that is not representative of their abilities. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including test anxiety and ADD/ADHD. I focus on helping students to learn the approaches they need to raise those scores, and on building their confidence so they see that those higher scores are attainable. This not only helps raise scores, but makes them more confident as a student and thus more successful. I am intimately familiar with any and all sections of both the SAT and ACT.

I have a B.S. in Biology and enjoy teaching science. This includes all levels of biology, first level chemistry, and all levels of physics. I graduated with high distinction and achieved great academic success via hard work and learning what sort of methods worked best for my learning style, and I bring this to my tutoring. I focus on not only on teaching students the material they need to know, but also on teaching them how to learn for themselves.

I have been tutoring academic math subjects for quite some time now, including all math up to and including pre-calculus. My approach involves breaking down the concept first to the foundation, ensuring the student has the foundation down, and then working our way back up to include the exceptions and subtleties of that particular concept.

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Ellen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Indiana University-Bloomington - Bachelor of Science, Biology, General

Test Scores

ACT English: 34

ACT Reading: 32

SAT Writing: 710


reading, archery, volunteering, coloring

Q & A

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Finding the right motivation is different for every student. Oftentimes, lowering stress levels by facilitating the learning process and helping the student see the bigger picture will help students stay motivated. I have also developed check systems for younger students to help them develop a sense of responsibility and get motivated to get more involved in their education.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I focus on developing a customized plan for each student, and on relating to students to help facilitate the student and tutor relationship. Every student is different, and learning what works best for that particular student is an important skill as a tutor. I am very good at relating to students, which allows me to better learn their strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles.

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

First sessions are about learning where the student is in the subject matter, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what teaching techniques work best for that student. I may try several different teaching techniques to find what works best for the student, and we'll work on areas of greatest need first. We'll work on building a strong foundation and working our way up from there.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Students sometimes are not aware of what their learning style is or what techniques work best for them. I show them how to develop the particular techniques that I have worked with them on that work well for them, and I introduce them to study tools, tips, and strategies that they can work on between sessions. I have also developed check systems to help younger students develop a sense of responsibility and to encourage them to get more involved in their education.

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

I will start by breaking down the concept into the big foundation ideas and making sure they have those down first. Then, we will start working on the trickier, more complex exceptions/rules, etc. As we work through I continually quiz students to ensure retention and comprehension. I will often make study guides or use whatever study tools will be helpful in giving the student something to refer back to later when they are studying on their own.

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

Reading comprehension is about identifying exactly what is stated in the reading. I help students learn to re-state what the author is saying in simpler terms so it's easier to understand. Using context to help with words they aren't as familiar with is also essential. For reading comprehension, students have to learn to ignore the impulse to interpret the text and focus on the exact statement that the author is making; this takes practice, and it often requires that someone go through the reading with them as students don't at first realize when they are interpreting.

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

The most successful strategies I have found are breaking down concepts into general ideas first, making sure the student has those general ideas down, and finally adding on exceptions to the general statement or special cases. I also appeal to various learning styles, using visual aids or even kinetic learning to engage a student and make sure the concept really "clicks.” Finally, good old practice is always very helpful.

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

I will often relate to students to remind them that they are not the only ones to have struggled with that particular concept. This also helps me make the tutoring experience more enjoyable for the student, so not only do they not dread learning that subject, but also they are happy to come to our next session.

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

I continually quiz students to check in on comprehension and retention, and I will have students work examples themselves in front of me to ensure they know how to do everything themselves.

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

Confidence comes with time, practice, and support. I am always reminding students to focus on small steps (ex. you went up from a 70 on your last test to an 80 on this one!) rather than getting caught up in a big score difference (ex. I have a C in the class and I need an A!). These big score increases and letter grade jumps come from cumulative time and hard work; it's important to recognize improvement along the way as well. This helps build students' confidence and makes them realize that their goal is attainable if they keep working and improving day by day.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Some students are adept at recognizing what they need the most help with, and others aren't as sure. By constantly checking in with a student regarding their comprehension and having them work specific examples with me so I can see their thought process, I can effectively pinpoint what areas/specific steps a student has the most trouble with.

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

For academics, I will first look at and maybe use their materials from the course, particularly if the student is already familiar with them and they have worked well for that student. If not, or if the class doesn't offer any great materials, I will create my own study guide and examples accordingly or pull examples from textbooks or online to help a student.

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