Over 50 tutoring hours

Benjamin O.

Emeryville, CA


Physics and math, emphasis on conceptual understanding

4.6 average from 27 ratings
Excellent and patient
— Rowella, Oakland, CA on 10/22/16


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Attending University of California


Attending University of California (Physics)

About Benjamin

In my sophomore year of high school, in my Physics B class, I got my first ever tutoring request. I was hesitant at first, as I was actually struggling a little in the class myself, but I accepted, and we met on Skype to begin a series of online lessons. I had helped out classmates during class time before, but an extended series of lessons was a completely different experience. To effectively convey the intricacies of difficult concepts and be prepared to explain whatever he found confusing, I was forced to understand the material in its entirety - and to my surprise, that helped me appreciate and enjoy physics on a much deeper level. From there, I realized a deeply intertwined love of learning and teaching; to me, teaching is an endless series of puzzles, each student's unique needs a problem I'm determined to solve. I want to communicate to my students that learning, while of course immensely useful, can also be satisfying and motivating.

Besides that experience, I also tutored as a volunteer for Read, Write, Discover that summer, in which I taught reading and writing skills to a fifth-grade student twice-weekly. For the next two years, in my junior and senior year of high school, I regularly accepted paid tutoring jobs from my schoolmates, primarily in calculus and physics, but I also helped some people refine their essay-writing skills. My most interesting job was for a close friend, who signed up for the AP Chemistry exam with absolutely no chemistry experience. I put him through a 3-day crash course the weekend before the test, and he ended up scoring a 4. To be sure, he is an incredibly smart person, but I think that story demonstrates my test-prep abilities; I know how to concentrate information down to the absolute essentials, to turn a 9-month course into a 3-day lesson (not that I recommend anyone else to also try learning an entire AP course in 3 days).

My teaching style is informed by the common pitfalls I see far too many students fall into, which I think is mostly due to the structure of public education. For example, Math is a subject which is often framed as a matter of rote practice; people say that anyone can be good at math, so long as they practice hard enough. While I do think that's true, I see it lead far too often to people studying hard instead of studying smart, draining anything enjoyable out of the subject and turning it into a series of drills. I aim to instill conceptual understanding, a solid set of principles students can follow so they can handle any situation an exam will throw at them; for example, teaching students to derive formulas rather than memorize them, or to understand the concepts behind those formulas that can't be derived. By minimizing the amount of rote practice involved and replacing it with a focus on concepts, learning can become both more effective and more enjoyable, a conversation rather than a lecture. This principle holds for almost any subject; physics is easier to remember and takes on more meaning when viewed as a set of concepts rather than a load of formulas to be memorized, history is best viewed as a coherent narrative rather than a disparate series of events, and so on. Even writing is too often presented as formulaic, crushing any chance students will develop a personal writing style. While this kind of learning isn't for everyone, as it requires a special kind of effort and constant feedback from the student, I believe any student that is willing to try it will find a new way to learn that carries them onward through any class.

I do understand that all this talk about "concepts" and "understanding" will probably sound rather idealistic for someone who just wants to score well on some standardized test, and in that case I'm willing to provide the more direct coaching those exams require, For my credentials, I scored a 2160 on the SAT and received 5's on all AP exams in my top subjects (among others), and most of my tutoring has been in AP subjects, if not necessarily for the purpose of exam prep.

I'm free all day on weekends, the afternoon and evening on Tuesdays, and the evening the rest of the week. I charge $30/hr for in-person tutoring and $20/hr for online tutoring. I'm willing to travel to students, though since I don't own a car it's definitely more convenient for me to meet at my home or someplace like a library. For cancellations, I'd like 6 hours notice, but I can be flexible about that. If you're ok with all that, and think you might like learning with me, don't hesitate to contact me - I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
In my sophomore year of high school, in my Physics B class, I got my first ever tutoring request. I was hesitant at first, as I was actually struggling a little in the class myself, but I accepted, and we met on Skype to begin a series of online lessons. I had helped out classmates Read more

6 hours notice required

I offer a $10 discount for online lessons.

Travel Radius
Travels within 5 miles of Emeryville, CA 94608

"Excellent and patient"

- Rowella, Oakland, CA on 10/22/16

"Thorough tutor"

- Benno, Alameda, CA on 10/6/16

"Awesome tutor!"

- Abby, Pinole, CA on 9/22/16
Test Preparation:
SAT Math

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

Algebra 1

My Algebra 1 teacher was particularly bad, so it was actually one of the first math classes I had where I took an active role in helping out my peers. While there isn't much to teach in terms of concepts, since much of Algebra 1 is getting used to symbol-shunting rules, it does introduce the crucial concept of a function. Beyond simply guiding students through the required practice to get used to manipulating symbols, I hope to get them to truly understand what a function is, so that they don't get confused down the road (particularly in Calculus).

Algebra 2

The concepts Algebra 2 introduces will challenge many student's conception of what a function is and can be. If they already do truly understand what a function is, then Algebra 2 should only present natural extensions of what they know; in that case, I will challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills with interesting problems. Applications provide both a step-up in problem solving difficulty and valuable context for the material, making them ideal for learning even pure math. While I haven't directly taught an Algebra 2 curriculum before, I've taught subjects both higher and lower, which I think demonstrates fluency in both the foundations and applications of Algebra 2 concepts.


I can teach most of the material in Calc 1A and 1B; only thing I don't know is differential equations from the latter part of 1B.


I once taught a close friend with minimal chemistry background the entirety of the AP chemistry curriculum in three days; he scored a 4 on the exam. While much of that is due to his innate intelligence, I believe that's more than enough evidence that I know exactly what students need to know for the exam. In my view, chemistry is much less conceptually challenging than say, physics, but its problems can be much more tedious, and thus require practice to avoid mistakes. Nevertheless, I will try as much as possible to reduce boring rote learning and focus on concepts whose understanding will ease the problem-solving process.


I'm currently working towards a physics major at UC Berkeley. The majority of my tutoring jobs have been in physics, and I scored top marks on many standardized physics tests (800 on the SAT 2 Physics, 5 on Physics B and both Physics C's).


Much of pre-calculus is simply focused on solidifying a student's algebra skills, but what new concepts it does introduce are extremely important. Knowing their broad applications in physics, I will give parametrics, vectors, polar coordinates, and matrices particular focus, making sure that students understand how vectors work intuitively but also that they get used to working with formal vector notation. Limits will also be given particular focus, of course, as the foundation of all calculus; here I won't delve into the rigorous definition of a limit, since an intuitive understanding works just fine for pretty much all applications. As for experience, I spent the summer before my Junior year leading a precalculus study group, in which we tackled high-level problems together to develop our problem-solving skills.

SAT Math

I believe preparing for the SAT Math section is a matter of practice. With a first-try score of 780 on the Math section without studying, I think I'm well-equipped to show students how to navigate the SAT Math section's little tricks.


Trigonometry was a particularly tough subject for my peers back in high school, so I frequently spent afternoons helping out individuals or groups learn to manipulate trig identities and understand fundamental trig concepts. I emphasize deriving over memorizing when it comes to trig, as it allows for more flexibility and less hard work, and also leads to a deeper understanding of why trig identities work the way they do.


As far as I know, writing lacks an established canon of concepts to teach, unlike math or science. The closest thing most people know is Strunk and White's small style guide, but simply knowing their rules doesn't help in the most important aspect of writing: developing a personal style. That can only come through practice, so my writing curriculum will consist of many essays in several styles, each of which I will critique to expose both specific errors and general writing flaws. The subject matter will be tailored to the students interest, as I've found it's much easier to write about something you're passionate about. I've taught writing at multiple levels, from elementary schoolers to my own peers back in high schools, and I have plenty of experience editing essays as well, so I'm familiar with common writing pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Attending University of California


Attending University of California (Physics)

Excellent and patient — Benjamin helped with tips, tricks and helping my son with "showing his work." My son thought that Benjamin was really easy to talk to and knew what he was talking about. ...

— Rowella, Oakland, CA on 10/22/16

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $35.00

Cancellation: 6 hours notice required

I offer a $10 discount for online lessons.

Travel policy

Benjamin will travel within 5 miles of Emeryville, CA 94608.