James’s current tutoring subjects are listed at the left. You
can read more about
James’s qualifications in specific subjects below.
Algebra frustrates many people because they don't get the point -"dealing with real numbers is hard enough, why make it more difficult with letters?". The point is, of course, that the letters let you know where you stand in any given situation much more easily than the numbers alone can, just ask a banker, bookie, engineer or doctor....
The simple process of keeping both sides of an apparently complex equation equal to each other leads to many applications of algebra which describe real world processes and make it possible to land probes on mars or build the Eiffel tower. Algebra 2 is really a series of explorations of the concepts developed in algebra 1. It remains essentially the same thing - do anything you like to both sides of an equation and as long as you do it accurately, the equation remains true. Never a problem, so long as you have algebra 1 securely in your mental locker.
ASVAB math is appropriately concerned with fundamentals - solving equations, time and distance, rate to completion of tasks, etc., with a little bit of exponents thrown in for differentiation purposes. If you get the basics, the tests will pose no problem. If you think you get the basics and have not really mastered them, the test will find that out real quick. I can help with understanding the fundamentals in a way which is totally obvious to you and showing you how to practice so that the test seems easy (it is). Train hard, fight easy is my tutoring mantra. This is particularly true for ASVAB-type tests, which are all about performance of the basics under pressure. The better-trained you are, the better you'll perform on the day!
Biology has changed from being a largely descriptive process to a predictive and quantitative science in the sixty years since the structure of DNA was shown to explain the underlying nature of heredity. Of all the fundamental sciences, this is the one which has changed most significantly over that time period. Understanding biology at the molecular level is demanding but but holds tremendous promise for the future and the subject is a joy to study. It is, however, no refuge from mathematics or the physical sciences, even if it is a lot more fun for most of us to learn!
Chemistry is a mature science with a firm theoretical and practical basis which nonetheless continues to present novel and intriguing research areas like hydrogen cells for the future. To enjoy it, students must employ significant spatial imagination and reasoning allied to accurate calculation and deduction. Chemistry has a small number of unifying themes which, once understood, form a coherent basis for deductive and inductive reasoning. It is a beautiful subject once you get past the sticker-shock of balancing equations and apparently intimidating nomenclature, but it is not user-friendly if you don't really get the fundamentals. On the other hand, once you've got these fundamentals down, you can get very good quite rapidly.
I have a PhD and BSc in Genetics from Trinity College Dublin. I have published patents and scientific papers and have worked as a molecular biologist in the Biotechnology industry for more than twenty years. I really know and understand genetics and I know how to explain it.
Logical, simple and clear, geometry is an exploration of the world using fundamental principles in imaginative ways. It is a very accessible branch of mathematics for anyone who can avoid being put off by the terminology and can learn to use a compass and straight edge. Elementary geometry is just plain common-sense applied to straight lines and circles and is fundamental to our understanding of the world and universe around us. More useful and more fun than video-games and a whole lot cheaper!
The topics covered in Prealgebra consolidate the fundamental concepts and mechanics of arithmetic and can give rise to many practical and interesting examples. These concepts should be second nature by the time students tackle Algebra and if they are not properly developed, further math will become an increasingly difficult grind, learned by memory rather than comprehension. Fortunately, structured practice is all that is needed for most people to master the material and it is well presented in a number of internet sites.
Just as Arithmetic provides the tool kit for the development of Algebra, Precalculus topics prepare students for calculus by providing a comprehensive numerical skill set which allows math to describe dynamic processes concisely and effectively. Each of the component processes (algebra, trigonometry and geometry) is inherently useful and descriptive, therefore interesting and rewarding to study. Precalculus develops the ability to "mix and match" the thought processes of the three core disciplines in preparation for moving math from largely static, two-dimensional situations into dynamic multi-dimensional events. These topics are actually enjoyable for students who really understand what they are doing - they are impossible to master by rote memory and require practice if they are to be usably remembered.
Whether you're interested in feedback or National Merit Scholarship qualification, PSAT is an examination of your all-round numeracy and literacy. Preparing for it means working on the appropriate areas of your all-round skills, learning to identify the pit-falls of ambiguity in the language section if you're not a fan of classical grammar and fixing any weaknesses in your basic arithmetic and algebra skills should these exist. It ought to be fun, not trauma and you'll do better if it is.
SAT math exams feature relatively easy questions on a wide range of topics under stress and time pressure. Preparation for these should involve becoming totally confident with the basic mathematical concepts which are being examined - this is achieved by practice and study of the concepts (e.g. area and volume calculations) rather than endless practice of the tests themselves. The test papers are actually very useful indicators of areas needing attention during preparation. "Train hard, fight easy" is the secret for this kind of test - speed and accuracy are the products of confidence and preparation.
I am currently certified to tutor algebra1, algebra2, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and SAT Math. Much of my tuition time is spent on various mathematical topics with grade 10 and 11 students. TAKS is about understanding the basics of of a subject and being able to apply them effectively under some time pressure and stress. I can build students' basic skills and examination readiness simultaneously using sample questions to identify issues and tackling any underlying "gaps" or misconceptions.
If you get geometry and understand algebra, trigonometry is a breeze. It's amazing what you can get up to with one little theorem (Pythagoras) - ask navigators, engineers, surveyors and mystics - they all love this stuff and so can you. Exploiting simple principles with many applications, trigonometry is great value for intellectual investment!