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Ben O.

Do You Need Help in Biology, Math, or English?

Poughkeepsie, NY (12601)

Travel radius
30 miles
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Ben O. passed a background check on 7/14/14. The check was ordered by Ben through First Advantage. For more information, please review the background check information page.

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I love to teach, especially one-on-one. I am a professional tutor at SUNY Orange County in Newburgh specializing in biology, and I have taught students from third grade through grad school. I offer enthusiasm, patience, logic, breadth of knowledge, inventiveness, and, importantly, experience.

Before I retired, I was a research faculty member in an Ivy League medical school, and I have trained in a number of fields in biology, from molecular biology to physiology; I also have been a lifelong naturalist. Therefore, you can ask me to assist you with tests like the "Living Environment" Regents Examination.

I estimate that I have had my name on enough scientific articles, research grant applications, newspaper columns, and books (two outdoor guides and a novel) to add up to more than a million published words, so I can certainly help you with English writing, too.

Math, geometry, and computer programming were essential to my research, and I have kept my interest in these subjects fresh; in particular, I've worked through the math and geometry Regents Exams with an eye to understanding not only what those tests are looking for but also how to be efficient when answering their questions. The results of this project clearly help me help students facing other standardized tests, like the SAT and MCAT exams, too.

Most of all, though, I love to help people think and learn.

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Ben’s subjects

Corporate Training:
General Computer, German, Grammar, Proofreading, Statistics
Test Preparation:
ASVAB, GED, GRE, MCAT, Regents, SAT Math, SAT Reading, SAT Writing
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Biology, English, Geometry, Physics, Prealgebra, Precalculus, Reading, SAT Math, SAT Reading, Statistics, Study Skills, Writing
Elementary Education:
Elementary Math, Elementary Science, Grammar, Reading, Spelling, Study Skills, Vocabulary
Biology, Botany, Ecology, Genetics, Microbiology, Physics, Physiology, Zoology
Computer Programming, General Computer
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Prealgebra, Precalculus, SAT Math, Statistics, Trigonometry
English, Grammar, Literature, Proofreading, Reading, SAT Reading, SAT Writing, Vocabulary, Writing

Algebra 1

No student should fear beginning algebra. Algebra is a wonderful tool to have at hand. It is as useful as writing and perhaps as great an invention -- we have not always had it. Algebra makes thinking easy. It is neat, efficient, and convenient. It is not hard at all. Believe me. A few rules, like the rules of a game, and you're home free.


Naturalist for over 50 years. B.S. in Molecular Biology. Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology. Biological oceanography and estuarine biology. Co-principal Investigator on NIH grant investigating pulmonary architecture and mechanics. Microscopy: light, electron, and confocal laser scanning. Physiological measurement and instrumentation. Data collection and analysis. Molecular structure, too. Deep and broad experience across much of biology.

Elementary Math

That I know and can teach Elementary Math is not in doubt. However, neither am I an academic mathematician. Given the choice, physicists are the people I go to for math. So, I try to teach math in that spirit: keep it brief, keep it clear, show me what works -- later we'll figure out _why_ it works. Unless that's what you need to know up front; then that's what we'll do first.


I was actually better in English than I was in science. That may still be true! I can show you how to write a closely reasoned presentation, or an interesting article about the out-of-doors, or entire novels. We can fix your grammar, shape your paragraphs, broaden your vocabulary, prepare a manuscript, and edit the result. Soup to nuts, as they say. You've come to the right place.


I have used geometry in my research for years, just as trigonometry and calculus have also been essential tools. Luckily, not only is geometry useful in many situations, it also is enjoyable and a pleasure both to learn and to teach.


It is so satisfying to build sentences. When you know the rules of English grammar, you find that there is probably not another language on earth with such range. When you can produce a grammatical dependent clause, it is as though you have discovered a chain saw in your kitchen drawer. And the
tenses! In English, you have near-complete control of time! You _can_ say what you mean. And it isn't hard at all.


The MCAT tests knowledge and ability in Physical Sciences, Verbal Reasoning, and Biological Sciences. Although I am a Ph.D (took the GRE) and was an Assoc. Prof. (Research) in Brown University's School of Medicine, I also applied successfully to medical school (took the MCAT). I have decades of experience in physical and biological sciences, and I am also an author of scientific articles (verbal reasoning!). Let's go through some sample tests; nothing to fear!


I have worked through the Integrated Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2/Trigonometry exams, using archived copies of the January 2013 tests. I have also read carefully through archived copies of the exams in Global History & Geography, Earth Science, Living Environment, and Physics, although I have not worked through all the reading selections and problems.

The Integrated Algebra exam is "pleasant": manipulate/solve linear and quadratic equations, solve pairs of equations graphically, comment on effects of changing constants in an equation, and factor/simplify fractions and radicals. It is in many respects a watered-down version of the Geometry and Algebra 2/Trigonometry tests combined. Trigonometric functions are used, but no tables are provided, so it is assumed that the test-taker has a calculator available. A tutor should make certain that the student knows how to use the calculator that will be available during the test, not only for trig functions but also for evaluating functions for graphing. A tutor also should train the student to recognize questions that probe for a particular definition rather than pose a complicated problem that would take time to answer.

The Geometry exam (Jan '13) asked 11 questions about analytical geometry; some are best solved by insight, not extensive computation or graphing, and a tutor should help a student see into such questions. A tutor also should alert the student to the "Regents-specific" notation that crops up: the ignorable letter 'm' before an angle or arc, arc-length expressed as degrees but without a degree sign, the curious "Transformational Geometry" notation. I noticed one question that could be solved immediately if the test-taker remembered one obscure fact about, for example, secants radiating from a point external to the circle; it could be solved, although not as quickly, using more commonly known facts about angles internal to the circle, but some derivation was required. The principles used in that derivation are widely useful. As a tutor, I would emphasize principles of derivation and command of the more often-used facts over memorization of many obscure facts: on average this approach probably takes less time and gives a better score.

The Algebra 2/Trigonometry exam is challenging, but it also is a great study aid. When a student can complete several archived exams, he or she should be ready, and getting to that point is where most of a tutor's work lies. Personally, I find the clarity of this test to be wanting in places: a few of the questions are difficult to decode. Thus, a second part of the tutor's job here is to help the student understand the problem.

The Living Environment (previously Biology) exam is broad but rather shallow, and it suffers from (again a personal opinion, but one based on a life in academic biology) lapses in clarity: answering some questions seems to depend on "best-guessing" what the exam-writers had in mind. As a tutor, I would want the student to know the full picture, but there is the balancing act -- decrease confusion by adding some information but not so much that confusion returns.

German: the exam seems to be administered in a language lab, which I cannot recreate. However, I worked in Germany for three years, and I can teach pronunciation, grammar, and sentence structure, plus typical phraseology.

English: a rigorous reading/listening comprehension exam. It's awkward to invent questions of this type, but archived tests are available. I have written articles, grants, and books, with co-authors and without, with editors and without. Clear scientific writing depends on rational analysis and comprehension, which, in turn, can be taught and learned.

Physics: the exam is primarily Newtonian mechanics. Moving from the Algebra 2/Trig exam to the Physics exam should be a small step involving mostly ideas of vectors, units, and conservation, plus a "physicist's version of calculus", which is determinedly practical.


I have studied zoology at Haverford College and the University of Washington, and I have worked in fish physiology and marine field studies. My main research dealt with mammalian respiratory physiology and microanatomy in a variety of species. I have for years had a broad range of interests in the natural world -- birds, mammals, entomology, botany, mineralogy -- and in the health of habitats, and I am familiar with ctenophores, annelids, and rotifers, that is, invertebrate zoology. Tell me what you need help with, and I will give you my best advice on how to proceed.

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Haverford College (Prestigious LIberal Arts School)

Temple University (PhD)

Amazing Teacher Initially, we were going to have one hour sessions. It is summer, and one hour seemed long enough. My son and Ben now have 2 1/2 hour sessions, and my son enjoys them. He said he has learned more from Ben in his 4 lessons than 2 years at a prestigious Boston boarding school. Ben is a brilliant teacher. ...

— Frederick from Dover Plains, NY on 7/23/14);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $35.00

Travel policy

Ben will travel within 30 miles of Poughkeepsie, NY 12603.

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