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Mercedes L.

Helping the right-brained student conquer left-brained material

Oceanside, CA (92054)

Travel radius
20 miles
Hourly fee
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It has always fascinated me that most people who think they're bad at math made that decision about themselves well before they were even adolescents, and I enjoy helping to change that mindset. Since math shows up in everyday life, it would behoove us to improve the way we relate to the subject.

Since English is not my native language, I gravitated toward math in school because numbers are universal. As a result, I was tutoring my peers before I even had command of the English language. Now, I consider American English my native tongue.

I have tutored math, up to calculus, in the Math Science and Engineering Achievement (MESA) Program at San Diego Community College. I also tutored English composition and grammar, and Spanish at the college level.

I have taken, and passed, the CBEST teacher's exam.

My approach to tutoring is to first evaluate what the student does know so that I can help build from there. I have found that an effective approach is to quickly go through material to expose the student, then return to earlier concepts. The reason this is effective is that the student, especially the young student, tends to assimilate information presented earlier in order to comprehend more complex material -- so that when we return to the earlier concepts, the student feels a sense of ownership of the knowledge.

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Mercedes’s subjects

Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Calculus, Differential Equations, Discrete Math, Geometry, Linear Algebra, Logic, Prealgebra, Probability, SAT Math, Trigonometry
ACT English, ACT Reading, English, ESL/ESOL, Grammar, Proofreading, Public Speaking, Reading, SAT Reading, SAT Writing, TOEFL, Vocabulary, Writing
Desktop Publishing, DOS, General Computer, Java, Macintosh, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, UNIX, Visual Basic
ESL/ESOL, French, Spanish, TOEFL
Elementary Education:
Elementary Math, Elementary Science, Grammar, Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Study Skills, Vocabulary
Special Needs:
Business, Finance, GMAT, GRE, Marketing, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Public Speaking
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Calculus, English, ESL/ESOL, French, Geometry, Prealgebra, Reading, SAT Math, SAT Reading, Spanish, Study Skills, Writing
Test Preparation:
ACT English, ACT Reading, ASVAB, CBEST, College Counseling, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, PSAT, Regents, SAT Math, SAT Reading, SAT Writing, TOEFL
Corporate Training:
Business, College Counseling, ESL/ESOL, Finance, French, General Computer, GMAT, Grammar, Java, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Proofreading, Public Speaking, Spanish

College Counseling

I successfully put myself through university after I did "life". Divorced with two children, I went to community college and then university, almost entirely on scholarship.

I have a unique perspective as a student, with the maturity that only life experience can bring.


Although English is the fourth language of the five I was exposed to and learned so far in my life, it has become my predominant language, even over my native Spanish tongue. Therefore, I feel well qualified to help you understand the nuances of this complicated language.


Before I started kindergarten, I lived in a Russian-Ukranian neighborhood in New York, where most of the younger children either didn't speak English or were just learning it in school. As the only child of a Spanish immigrant, I spoke neither English nor Russian, but we (the neighborhood children) found ways to communicate.

In those days, there were no ESL classrooms, so I learned by total immersion. I quickly mastered playground English, and paid close attention to grammar and sentence construction in school. Today, my command of the English language is such that I am more comfortable with it than my native Spanish, which makes me the ultimate tutor for someone who is learning English.

My approach is to assess the student's goals first. For example, for professional purposes, I will focus on grammar and written language as well as spoken. However, if a student is simply interested in traveling and verbally communicating, more time and effort will be placed on conversational English.

General Computer

I taught myself how to use a computer when they were the primary part of the business world, and the idea of the personal computer was in its fetal stages.

Linear Algebra

In my early years, I gravitated toward math because of my status as a newcomer to the English language. With numbers, I felt more at ease. Later, I excelled in math, from algebra through calculus at San Diego City College. I earned all A's until calculus, where I got my first C because I omitted brackets! At UCSD, I also took and passed differentials and logic.

Algebra (including linear algebra) remains my favorite math subject to teach.

Microsoft Outlook

I worked as an "executive secretary" for many years and taught myself to use the first personal computers, as well as the software. Later, from approx. 1998-2005 (when I became a full-time student), I taught the Microsoft Office suite package (including Outlook) to employees at corporations when the companies switched over to MS Outlook. I continued to use the package during my educational career and beyond. I still show people how to use it.

Microsoft PowerPoint

I can help you learn to prepare captivating presentations.


I learned to crochet at the tender age of 6, and have done so consistently for many years. Over the decades, I have made countless baby items, plus skirts, sweaters, hats, scarves and socks.

My children learned math skills by learning to crochet, as well.


I have been a published feature article writer, and later, editor, of an art magazine in New York City and have an innate talent for spotting spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors.

Public Speaking

I have been invited for speaking engagements since I was a returning student at City College in 2003. Since then, since I was the recipient of multiple scholarships, I have spoken at fundraising events and on panels to engage people in the possibilities of furthering their education. Furthermore, after I transferred to UCSD, I was a teaching assistant and successfully helped students prepare for their oral (and PowerPoint) presentations.

Salsa Dancing

I grew up dancing Salsa on the street corners of Long Island (New York) and in Puerto Rico. I also earned grades of A at UCSD in Dances of the Latin World, and I was an officer of the UCSD Rueda de Casino (Cuban dancing) club.

The best way to learn dance is by breaking the steps down for the novice learner, so that they may begin to feel like second nature. Then the focus is on having fun on the dance floor. I like to teach by total immersion, so prepare to go to Salsa clubs to practice. Dance, like math, is a subject that you learn by doing.


My mother taught me to sew when I was just a little girl. She was a clothing designer (primarily formal gowns) and was losing her eyesight to cataracts, so I began by sewing curves that she couldn't see very well. By the time I was 12, I was making patterns out of butcher block paper. I made most of my daughter's clothing through her elementary school years.


Let a native Spanish-speaker tutor you.

Study Skills

The most successful students are not necessarily the ones with the best grades; they are the ones who are the most organized and resourceful.

I learned this the hard way when I returned to school years after having had a family and working. During my prime school years I excelled grades-wise. Later, as a returning student, I had to re-learn how to learn.

I became a peer tutor after I returned to school, with math as my tutoring focus (although I also tutored English and Spanish). I can coach the most right-brained individuals how to get by in a left-brained world.

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University of California, San Diego (Cognitive Science)

Wonderful! — She was on time, very sweet and did great with my son. We look forward to working with her for a long time. ...

— Cori , San Marcos, CA on 11/19/14

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $29.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Discounts available for multiple students or for two-hour sessions.

Travel policy

Mercedes will travel within 20 miles of Oceanside, CA 92054.

Email Mercedes

Usually responds in about 8 hours

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