Welcome to all students! Most of my students want to raise their scores on standardized tests like the LSAT, GRE, GMAT, SAT, and ASVAB, but I tutor other subjects in which I have considerable experience, such as math, history, and reading and writing skills.
The experiences of my most successful students can help you determine whether I am the best tutor for you. A good number confess that they had not previously done particularly well in school. Almost all, however, started out with fairly specific goals, such as achieving the minimum test score required for admission to a university or branch of the military.
Without exception they also entered our partnership totally determined to meet those goals, and made time to do the requisite work. Also without exception they exceeded their own expectations, typically with dramatic results. I can't work miracles if you don't put in the necessary hours of study; no tutor can. But if you are a serious-minded person who will put in four honest hours of homework for every two-hour meeting, then I'm your best choice to help achieve your goals as efficiently as possible.
My background ...
... is mixed. I have a B.S. in engineering, and for several years I worked as a design engineer. When I entered graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in history, I got a part-time job as an instructor for one of the big test-prep companies (You get two guesses which one!). I started out teaching the GRE, but soon branched out to other tests, including the LSAT and GMAT. My association with that company lasted more than a decade, during which I was named Regional Teacher of the Year. I also spent three years as a teacher trainer and teacher supervisor.
I've taught dozens of courses, mostly about history, at major universities as well. Altogether, my former students number in the thousands, of whom I've tutored nearly two hundred. I've published several articles and a book, and have guested on radio and television programs as an authority on the history of radio. I served four years in the U.S. Navy. Finally, some of my students suggest that I should mention that I am a Jeopardy! champion.
What should you know about test-prep courses and tutoring?
You've probably been considering a course offered by one of the test-prep corporations. And indeed, that option works well for many people; but not everyone, which explains why the “average” student who takes a test-prep course raises his or her score by no more than ten percentile points.
But average students don't take these courses; real people do, and each brings his or her strengths and weaknesses to the classroom. If you have forgotten everything you learned in high school algebra, a test-prep course will likely overwhelm you because you'll have to re-learn several years of math in just a few weeks. Conversely, if you already are scoring well in math, you'd still have to pay for lessons that can scarcely alter your overall score. Furthermore, test-prep corporations impose limits on the maximum time a teacher may hold “office hours,” so don't expect more than an hour or so of personal attention per week. Finally, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.” Students often realize—after they've paid their tuition—that other important obligations conflict with the classroom schedule.
By contrast, I will adjust to your unique situation. After assessing your strengths and weaknesses, I'll focus on only what you need to learn. If your target school, for example, has pronounced your math skills adequate to guarantee admission, but only if you beef up your verbal skills, then we'll work almost exclusively on verbal skills. And while I'll strive to help you achieve your goals as efficiently and quickly as possible, we will take as much time as required (and not a bit more) to do the job. I'll also continually monitor your progress and adjust your study program as necessary.
Also, I will conform as much as possible to your schedule; usually I can meet with students almost any time of the day or during any day of the week. Finally, if, say, a family or work emergency takes you away from your studies, or you just can't avoid taking a long-planned vacation, we'll strategize how best to minimize the negative effects of such an event. You'll never have to worry about what you missed in class during an absence.
My students continually teach me to be optimistic. Of course, if I think that you can't meet your goals, I'll tell you why as kindly as possible. But students far more often underestimate rather than overestimate themselves. They misunderstand how their test is designed and what the test is supposed to evaluate, and thus they aim only a little higher than what they have been scoring recently. That's where I come in. Using knowledge about the ins and outs of standardized tests, and a careful assessment of your intellectual and psychological strengths and weaknesses, I'll set you to working efficiently towards the score you actually deserve, not the excessively modest one you would otherwise have settled for.
What can you expect?
My former students can help answer this question, too. They would say that actual work determines success far more than any other factor. One LSAT student, for example, began at the 40th percentile and hoped only to end up around the 60th or 70th. After a few months, though, she was scoring above the 90th percentile and applying to top-tier law schools. I recently tutored an ACT student who made comparable progress in less than three months. Two of my best GRE students initially could not explain negative numbers. Indeed, one could not even add two-digit numbers. Both are now attending prestigious graduate schools. Students who follow my guidance rarely fail to exceed their original target scores, and they almost always exceed those targets spectacularly.
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