A photo of Sahar, a tutor from Vassar College

Sahar

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After completing a B.A. in Sociology at Vassar College, I completed a certificate of Medical Sciences (Post-Bach Pre-Med Program) at Drexel University. I took a year "off", working in a pathology/cardiology research laboratory at Johns Hopkins while applying to medical school. I was accepted to the M.D./Ph.D. program at Virginia Commonwealth University and that is where I have been for the past 9 years. This year (2016) I graduated with and MD and a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. My dissertation project focused on mast cells in allergic disease, mastocytosis, and non-allergic diseases. Currently, I am in a research track program which combines an Internal Medicine residency with Rheumatology fellowship.

All throughout my time in school, but particularly starting at Drexel, I have tutored other students in a variety of medically related areas. Most recently, I have tutored 1st and 2nd year medical students in a variety of medical school classes. I have also served on a wider level: participating on the curriculum planning committee and admission committee at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. I take great pleasure in advising and tutoring and love to see my former students move on to bigger and better things.

Sahar’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Vassar College - Bachelors, Sociology

Graduate Degree: Virginia Commonwealth University - PHD, Microbiology and Immunology, Medicine (MD/PhD)

Test Scores

MCAT: 36

MCAT Verbal Reasoning: 12

MCAT Physical Sciences: 11

MCAT Biological Sciences: 13

Hobbies

painting, local foods, gardening, reading NYT rated fiction novels

Tutoring Subjects

AP Physics 2

Biology

Biostatistics

College Biology

College English

College Essays

MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

English

Essay Editing

Graduate Test Prep

High School Biology

High School English

Homework Support

Immunology

Life Sciences

MCAT Verbal Reasoning

Medicine

Other

PSAT Critical Reading

SAT Prep

Science

Study Skills

Study Skills and Organization

Summer

Test Prep

Writing


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy stems from the teachings of John Dewey, who felt that fundamentally all students want to learn, and it is up to the teacher to make the learning environment one in which the student can be successful. I believe that the first step to developing a great learning strategy is to get to know the individual and encourage the individual to know themselves.

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

I would use the first session to establish the student's learning goals, timetable, resources, and learning style.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The key to staying motivated is to divide major goals into much, much smaller ones. It's a lot easier to read 10 pages in an hour than a textbook in a week!

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Any student can become an independent learner once they are taught how to analyze their own learning style and learning needs. I help facilitate that honesty and guide students in taking the steps that are best for their success.

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

There are always multiple approaches to learning a concept, and every student will find themselves in a position where they must try a few different approaches before they succeed. Unique to multiple choice test taking is the fact that sometimes you have to know when to quit-- unlike other modes of examination, multiple-choice test takers benefit from strategic use of their time on difficult versus not-difficult subjects.

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

The student and I have to get to the bottom of WHY they have difficulty with reading comprehension. There are so many reasons why students struggle with reading comprehension, ranging from true learning disabilities, to ADHD, to English as a second language, to style of learning (i.e. visual learners), and so much more. It is difficult to fix a problem when you can't figure out what that problem is!

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

My students have been most successful when, with my help, they can learn to be honest about their own strengths, limitations, and learning needs. My goal as a tutor is to make myself useless! That is, get my students to a place where they don't need me anymore.

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

I believe that learning as a whole is exciting, regardless of the subject, and it is the teaching approach, and not the content, which makes some subjects less interesting to some students. Students become excited when they can learn their way and succeed. This is a self-reinforcing cycle.

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

Techniques must be catered to a student’s needs. Some students need to read, some students need to draw, some need to visualize, and some need to review repeatedly. Each student is unique.

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

When large goals are broken down into smaller feasible goals every student can be successful. That success builds a student's confidence, and confidence improves test-taking abilities. It is a self-reinforcing cycle.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Some students can easily tell you or at least hint at their needs. For others who are unsure, I will employ observational tactics. That is, I will have them complete a multiple-choice exam or a worksheet of problems (whatever is appropriate) and watch how they do it and ask about their thinking process as they do it.

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

Students' needs change for many reasons, internal and external. Perhaps they are moving into a subject area that is more difficult for them, or perhaps they are starting to get bored. They may have other draws on their time. The important thing is to determine what is changing, whether it is a detrimental change, and then decide how to adapt to those changes.

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

I draw on a multitude of materials, because each student is different. Some needs textbook passages, some need worksheets, and some need a drawing. I always enjoy using the "whiteboard" to help guide students to find their own answers.