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I graduated from Brown with a B.S. in mathematics this past May. Whether it's test prep, math, or writing, any skill or problem can be broken down into small steps and tackled bit by bit. This makes hard problems far less scary and produces steady reward for the solver. My role in your study will be to help you find the small components in a problem and tackle each one, and provide a patient voice of encouragement for you. If you practice solving any kind of problem this way, eventually you won't believe that you ever found any subject intimidating.

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Zachary’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Brown University - Bachelors, Mathematics

Test Scores

ACT Composite: 35

ACT English: 35

ACT Math: 35

ACT Reading: 36

ACT Science: 34

SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1550

SAT Math: 770

SAT Verbal: 800

SAT Writing: 710

GRE: 340

GRE Quantitative: 170

GRE Verbal: 170


Ultimate Frisbee, Music, Chess

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Any problem can be broken down into tiny pieces and solved bit by bit. This approach works for everyone. Some may solve little bits faster than others, or group a couple bits into a chunk, but the approach of breaking down a problem into minute pieces applies to any student and makes hard problems less intimidating.

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

I'll take a few minutes to introduce myself to him/her but I'd want to get into the subject matter pretty soon - it's the best way to discern his/her learning style and the concepts with which he/she needs help most.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

All I can give is my approach. I'll never explain an answer straight up, but I'll guide her through a problem that (to her) seems intractable my way. The goal would be for her to habitually and independently break down a problem into small steps and tackle each step sequentially.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Presumably, a student would have plenty of external motivation or goals in mind, or else he wouldn't ask to be tutored in the first place. What I can do is enforce the idea that he can grow and get better at his subject with correct practice; this would help keep him from being discouraged, as well as provide some internal drive for him.

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

Often this happens because a student tries to grasp a complex concept all at once. In that case, the concept in question would have a number of smaller, simpler components that can be tackled bit by bit. Gradually, those little components will become the complex concept.

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

The key in reading comprehension is isolating key words in a given sentence that form key ideas. Once the idea is found, the rest of the sentence makes sense.

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

Lack of engagement often comes with lack of confidence in a subject. By focusing on small wins first, this creates a positive cycle in a given subject that serves as a motivator for future progress.

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

The best way of checking for comprehension is practice problems in that area. I would give a student a practice problem and have them explain their method to me; by having them teach me, in a sense, they gain greater facility with the material.

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

Small wins. Any initial positive progress creates a positive cycle that begets larger wins later on.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

1) She may tell me. 2) If not, when going through a problem, what concepts does she get stuck on? What forms of encouragement and education seem to work best? The experimental approach is good here.

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

Going through a wide range of problems in whatever field my student is studying in and paying close attention to their problem-solving process is my main strategy. That way, if she falters, I'll know exactly what conceptual leap she'll need to take, and guide her there.

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

I alter my approach based on the material each student goes through - for instance, I'll need to pay attention to a wider breadth of material when teaching the ACT than when working with a student on geometry. After a few sessions I'll have a better handle on exactly what way of presentation is most helpful for my students. My style, however, is fairly consistent student-to-student.

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

Whatever they have and are comfortable with, first and foremost. If they don't know, or if they're studying for a test like the ACT and GRE where materials matter, I'll recommend specific books for them.

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