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I have a PhD in history from Harvard University, a masters from the University St Andrews in Scotland, and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. I am a passionate teacher, having taught students from elementary school through college. I am especially enthusiastic about working with students one-on-one, whether in office hours or through private tutoring. I am interested in teaching a variety of subjects, and I especially look for ways to make students engaged with subjects that are not initially their favorite subjects. I am also committed to teaching students test prep, especially test-taking strategies and tips for managing nerves. Outside of school, I am an avid amateur musician and chef.

Colleen’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Notre Dame - Bachelors, History and Art History

Graduate Degree: Harvard University - PHD, History

Test Scores

SAT Math: 720

SAT Verbal: 770

SAT Writing: 790

SAT Mathematics Level 2: 800

SAT Subject Test in U.S. History: 710


Music, Cooking, Ballroom dance

Tutoring Subjects

ACT Prep

ACT English

ACT Math

ACT Reading

ACT Science

ACT Writing



American Literature

Ancient and Medieval Heritage

AP Art History

AP European History

College Application Essays

College Level American History

College World History


Elementary School


Essay Editing

European History



GMAT Analytical Writing Assessment

GMAT Integrated Reasoning

GMAT Quantitative

GMAT Verbal

Graduate Test Prep


GRE Analytical Writing

GRE Quantitative

GRE Subject Test in Literature in English

GRE Subject Tests

GRE Verbal

High School English

High School Level American Literature

High School World History

High School Writing


Middle School Math

Middle School Writing





PSAT Mathematics

PSAT Writing Skills

SAT Prep

SAT Math

SAT Reading

SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1

SAT Subject Test in World History

SAT Subject Tests Prep

SAT Writing and Language

Social studies

Test Prep

World History


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Everyone learns differently. I help students experiment with different methods of learning until we uncover what strategies work best for them. This way, students can learn new material--and retain it--as efficiently as possible.

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

I would want to learn what the student was studying, what questions they were having, and what they hoped to gain from tutoring. I would then want to set up a schedule for us to meet their goals.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

One of the most frustrating things for a student is feeling like s/he is putting in a lot of effort but not making any progress. Comparing a student's progress over days, weeks, and months shows how much s/he has learned and can inspire the student to keep studying.

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

I would step back to the basics and see which stage of the skill or concept the student was struggling with. Most problems build upon multiple skills. By going back to the beginning, we would have an opportunity to review, encourage the student by demonstrating the content that s/he already knows, and be able to identify the exact skills on which we need to work.

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

First, students have to be comfortable, because there will be a lot of attention on them, and especially a lot of focus on what they do not know, which can make some students feel nervous. Second, it is helpful to make sure that both the student and the tutor are on the same page about what the student wants to prioritize, her/his academic goals, and the schedule we should follow to achieve those goals.

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

First, not everyone will be excited about every academic subject. It is OK to admit that some subjects are not a particular student's favorite--it does not mean that the student cannot succeed in the subject. Second, we could connect the subject to skills that the student finds more interesting. Finally, a lot of frustration results simply from confusion, so building a knowledge of the subject can help make the subject more interesting over time.

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

One fast way is to have students explain the concept themselves, which often demonstrates exactly where a student becomes confused. I also like to continue reviewing material that we have already covered, instead of waiting for the time right before an exam, so that students do not have to struggle with studying a lot of material in a matter of days. For this continual review, we could have short quizzes or discuss a synthetic overview of the material and how it fits together.

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

In lessons, I emphasize what a student is good at, what s/he already knows, and how far s/he has come in their studying.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

First, I ask the student, because s/he often has the best sense of what s/he needs and where s/he struggles. Next, I would look at homework or exams, seeing which concepts or skills have been mastered and which need more practice.