I'm a recent graduate with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor's Degree in East Asian Studies and a minor in Philosophy. I spent a semester abroad In Shanghai, China in my junior year, during which I was lucky enough to develop my spoken and written fluency and explore a beautiful and unique part of the world.
I have been an academic tutor and chess teacher for over 6 years. I have loved teaching since I was quite young, and aspire to be a professor in the future. In my years as a tutor I've instructed Geometry, Algebra I and II, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Chemistry, Creative Writing, the GRE, and most frequently SAT and ACT preparation.
I developed a love for tutoring test preparation for two major reasons. First off, I'm a puzzle solver by nature and I genuinely find the tests fun! That sounds bizarre to most people, but I think one of my principal strengths as a tutor is the ability to instill this positive and optimistic attitude in my students as well. A good attitude helps to inspire confidence, which in turn yields tangibly improved test results.
Secondly, my college application process was extremely stressful and difficult. I look back on the experience as unnecessarily frustrating and taxing when it should have been exciting. One of my primary missions as a tutor is to not only help prepare my students for their exams, but also to develop a personal relationship as a mentor throughout the college application process to ensure they stay focused, but also happy.
In my free time I keep busy with a myriad of hobbies. I'm a 3 time national chess champion, avid poker player, semi-professional gamer, Rubik's cuber, singer and string musician, and stand up comedian. I also enjoy hiking, skiing, ultimate frisbee, and playing tennis. Above all else, though, I'm a gregarious extrovert with wonderful friends and love socializing and meeting new people.
I look forward to working with you!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Johns Hopkins University - Bachelors, East Asian Studies
ACT Composite: 33
ACT English: 35
ACT Math: 34
ACT Reading: 32
SAT Composite: 2280
SAT Math: 790
SAT Verbal: 740
SAT Writing: 750
Chess, Tennis, Stand Up Comedy, Poker, Professional Gaming, Creative Writing, Singing, Vocal Percussion, Stringed Instruments, Acting
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every student is a person and every person is different. Each has his or her own strengths and weaknesses that the teacher should target. A good teacher is engaging, never saying what the right answer is, but why the answer is right. Above all, learning should be fun!
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In my initial session I ask my students a variety of personal questions about academics and life in general. In doing so, I can get a better sense of who they are. What they love, what they can't bear. After I connect with my student and break the ice, I develop an action plan catered specifically to their personality and academic needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In my experience, the most limiting factor that prevents most students from improving in school or improving their test scores is confidence. For students who struggle with math, for example, I often take away their calculators for a period of time. That way, come test day they will firmly believe that it is they, not the tool that can solve the problem at hand.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The key to academic motivation is to simply enjoy learning. I work my utmost to make my tutoring sessions fun and engaging. I want my weekly visits to be the best part of their week, not the most stressful part. By emphasizing a positive attitude, I help students take pride in the quality of their work. Motivation naturally follows suit.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There is a saying in chess that the best way to tackle a problem is to accept it head on. Oftentimes students will reach a wall and feel that they simply can't grasp a specific concept. But by addressing the mental blocks directly and from a new perspective that aligns more naturally with each student's individual style of thinking the wall can be easily overcome.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is unique because students struggle with it for a variety of different reasons. I first pinpoint the root of the problem. For students who don't read for pleasure, for example, the problem is often time management. They feel rushed trying to assimilate a large volume of information with time constrictions. For students who read frequently, however, the problem is often due to over-analysis. They're not accustomed to reading consciously, focusing only on the big picture and critical information. My job is to cater my teaching style to tackle the specific issues each student is having, especially with reading comprehension.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
One strategy I've found effective when I first start with a student is assigning a varying amount of homework depending on the student's learning style. Some students grasp new concepts quickly and don't require excessive homework to hammer in a point that already seems intuitive. Instead, finding creative ways to challenge those students to apply their knowledge is more fun and more effective. Other students, however, require more consistent reinforcement in order to retain conceptual ideas. These students tend to not mind a more regular work regiment as it helps them feel confident and achieve academic satisfaction.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I often ask my students original questions I design that are outside of the tested material. Some are intentionally tricky and are designed to challenge their understanding, in order to ensure they truly grasp the concept at hand, not simply the methodology for how to solve certain types of problems.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
The best thing any tutor can do to build a student's confidence is simply positive reinforcement. Frequent reminders that success means something different for each person, and that it's okay to not understand something immediately as long as you work hard can go a really long way.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
In my initial few lessons and throughout my tutoring process I ask students questions about themselves to better get an understanding of their individual academic needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I make an action plan that allocates extra time to target areas that students struggle with most. For example, if I had 10 weeks to prepare a student for the SATs and they were strong verbally but weaker at math, I would dedicate 5 of the total weeks to working on improving his or her mathematical skills. For week 8 and 9 I would take a break from math altogether to allow his or her mind to process the new strategies and information I taught (the efficacy of which has been demonstrated in numerous scientific studies), then focus only on math for the final week to get him or her warmed up before test day.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The materials I use for each session vary largely based on the student, the subject, and how far along we are in the learning process. I do, however, try to always come prepared with the answer and a comprehensive explanation for each homework or test question we will review that session, in addition to outside learning materials to further challenge the student, and articles about different techniques (for studying productively, staying confident, dealing with nerves on test day etc.).