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Darren H.

Lafayette, CA

$199/hour

Perfect Scores: SAT 1600, ACT 36, GRE Quant 170, Chemistry/MathL2 800

20+ Hours
Background check passed as of 3/13/17
5.0 average from 4 ratings
Very Good
— Nick, Moraga, CA on 9/7/17

$199/Hour


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U.C. Berkeley
Chemistry
Stanford University
Master's

Education

U.C. Berkeley (Chemistry)

Stanford University (Master's)

About Darren

I'm a graduate of U.C. Berkeley (Chemistry) and Stanford (M.S., Chemistry), and I've taught in high school and university classrooms and tutored privately since 1992. When I was at Stanford, my students gave me a teaching (T.A.) rating of 4.93/5.00, and I'm currently credentialed as a science and math teacher.

While I was designing the ACT prep class at Oklahoma Christian School, a student asked me to help him get a perfect score of 36. One of my other students spoke up, saying, “Your teacher isn't qualified to help you. He only has a 35.”

I've treasured those words, not only because of the honest feedback, but also because the student was a Chinese immigrant who felt comfortable enough to speak his mind to his teacher. Students who think independently really shine when they write their college application essays and interview for jobs, and their test scores go up as well. All the students I've tutored have had score increases on the ACT and SAT.

Since the day my student spoke up, I've worked toward a perfect score in every test I tutor. Here's my progress so far:

ACT: 36
SAT Math Level 2: 800
SAT Physics: 800
SAT Chemistry: 800
AP Chemistry: 5
AP Computer Science: 5
AP English Language: 5
AP English Literature: 5
AP Environmental Science: 5
AP Biology: 5

I've still got a few to go:
SAT: 1600 (Ivy Global practice test, perfect score)
GRE Quant: 170 (official practice test, perfect score)
GRE Verbal: 167 (official practice test, 98th percentile)
SAT Literature: 800 (official practice test)
SAT Biology: 800 (official practice test)

Each of us is gifted in a unique way. My goal is to help you apply your gifts to your standardized tests and college application essays. We can show colleges the best and most creative things about you so they'll want you to be a part of what they're doing.
I'm a graduate of U.C. Berkeley (Chemistry) and Stanford (M.S., Chemistry), and I've taught in high school and university classrooms and tutored privately since 1992. When I was at Stanford, my students gave me a teaching (T.A.) rating of 4.93/5.00, and I'm currently credentialed as a science and math teacher.

While I was designing the
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Policies
Cancellation
24 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 10 miles of Lafayette, CA 94549
Background Check: Passed

"Very Good"

- Nick, Moraga, CA on 9/7/17
Math:
ACT Math,
Algebra 1, Algebra 2,
Geometry, GRE, Prealgebra, Precalculus, SAT Math,
Trigonometry
Science:
ACT Science,
Chemistry,
PSAT
Business:
GRE

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.

ACT English

ACT English requires two skills: punctuation and vocabulary. It's similar to SAT Writing, but it doesn't have any vocabulary questions, and you get less time per problem.

Punctuation is straightforward to learn. The ACT recycles the same kinds of English questions over and over again, and if you practice the rules, you'll eventually get all of the questions right.

You'll need to bring in your ACT Reading skills to do questions involving adding/deleting sentences, modifying phrases to make them more relevant, and putting sentences in order. ACT Reading is easier than SAT Reading, so you might need to study a little harder for ACT English to compensate.

If you need an elite score of 34+ on the ACT, we'll set your English goal at 34 or higher.

ACT Math

ACT Math is a race against time. Students often tell me that they could do almost every problem on the test if the time limit didn't exist.

Paradoxically, the time crunch can work in your favor. Almost everyone feels rushed, so ACT Math often has a lenient grading scale. If you increase your speed a little bit, your score will go up dramatically.

Because the ACT is a standardized test, it has to use the same kinds of tricky questions over and over. After some practice, the test will seem more familiar, and you'll be able to work faster.

Every ACT Math question is multiple-choice, and you can always use a calculator. Once the problems start to seem familiar to you, you'll often be able to eliminate three or four of the five answer choices and pick your answer in less than ten seconds. Getting through the first two-thirds of the Math section this way will leave you with plenty of time to tackle the hard questions near the end.

Because the Math section has a generous curve, more of my students score at a perfect 36 than on any other section of the ACT.

ACT Reading

I regularly see students get large, quick score gains on the Reading section. The passages are all eighth-grade level, unlike the SAT's historical-document passages, and the questions themselves are also easier.

The problem with ACT Reading, as with the other sections of the ACT, is limited time. Fortunately, everyone else is struggling with the same problem, so if you practice to increase your speed and accuracy, your score will go up faster than you think.

Obtaining background knowledge is another way to read faster. A passage about Louis Armstrong will be much easier to work with if you know something about jazz, for example. If you regularly struggle with the fiction and humanities passages, read novels and biographies. If you'd like to improve on the social science and natural science passages, read the economics- and science-related articles in Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.

If you want an elite 34+ on the ACT, go for a 35 or 36 in the Reading section.

ACT Science

Every time I open a scientific journal, I have the same feeling you probably get with ACT Science: "What am I supposed to do with all these charts and tables? How am I supposed to get through this article in a reasonable amount of time?"

The fact that an M.S. from Stanford feels this way should encourage you. ACT Science passages are taken from cutting-edge research that even tenured professors have to work to understand. Everyone feels challenged, even students who get perfect scores. Small improvements in speed will eventually put you in front of the crowd and within reach of the scores you want.

The answers to ACT Science questions are in the passages, but having background knowledge will still help you find information in those passages more quickly. If you haven't had biology or chemistry in high school, you may want download a science podcast or pick up a related book at the library.

I teach note-taking techniques that will help you avoid information overload on the test. If you need a very high score on the ACT, shoot for a 34 or higher in the Science section.

Algebra 2

I have extensive tutoring experience in high school math, including a year in which I taught a blind student Algebra II/Trigonometry using a braille textbook.

Chemistry

As you may already know, the AP Chemistry test changed in 2014. It's now more like a college final exam than a high school test, and you can't study for it as you'd prepare for SAT Chemistry, which largely tests memorization.

The questions have become more conceptual, and there's a large focus on lab chemistry. They remind me of the SAT's Critical Reading section: if you're not extremely careful, you'll misread the something without realizing it.

These changes aren't fully reflected in the prep books, not even the 2017 Princeton Review book I recently looked at. Of the students who took the AP exam, only 9.2% received a 5 in 2017, as opposed to 18.2% in 2013.

The good news is that you can train yourself to be one of the top 9% who gets a perfect score. I recommend taking released exams and free-response questions two months before the AP test. Prepare a list of questions you'd like to review in each tutoring session.

If you need more practice material, do the hardest problems at the end of every chapter of your AP Chemistry textbook. Treat them like free-response questions: write out a paragraph-long explanation for explaining how you arrived at each answer. Since your book won't have free-response-style answers in the back, ask your tutor to check your explanations for completeness.

SAT Math

I received a perfect 800 on the SAT's Math section in January 2017. 

SAT Math questions can seem intimidating at first. They look like problems from an IQ test that you can't really study for. The good news is that everything on the test consists of middle and high school math concepts combined in unusual ways.

The SAT is a standardized test, so it has to ask the same kinds of tricky problems over and over again. It won't warn you that a particular problem is about factoring, graphing a line, or similar triangles — that would defeat the purpose of making the problems seem hard — but it will never deviate from the Common Core curriculum.

After we've reviewed a few practice tests, you'll start to see how that SAT recycles the same ideas over and over. The problems won't seem as tricky any more, and you'll be able to do them much faster.

Every SAT problem has an efficient solution that takes 30 seconds or less. With practice, you can learn how to identify that solution and implement it quickly.

Because SAT Math is worth twice as much as either Reading or Writing alone, I prioritize this section with most students, and we aim for final scores of 780 to 800.

SAT Reading

The revised SAT's Reading section is pretty challenging. One of the five passages will be a historical U.S. document with difficult language and unfamiliar concepts. The science and social science passages, with their focus on recent research methodologies, aren't easy either.

The good news is that every Reading question has an objectively correct answer choice and three that are objectively wrong. Reading questions are like math questions: you can always find unambiguous evidence in the passage for the right answer as long as you know what to look for.

Having background knowledge also helps. Because the U.S. history passages often deal with the Constitution or early feminism, it's a good idea to review those topics in your History book.

If you'd like an elite score of 1520+ on the SAT, you'll need to aim for a 370/400 or higher in Reading. We'll start with official SAT practice tests so you can learn the question types and move on to the more difficult AP English Language questions to help you over-prepare.

SAT Writing

SAT Writing requires three skills: punctuation, reading, and vocabulary.

Punctuation is straightforward to learn. As with Math, the SAT recycles the same kinds of Grammar questions over and over again, and if you practice the rules, you'll eventually get all of the questions right.

Questions about adding/deleting sentences, modifying phrases to make them more relevant, and putting paragraphs in order rely on skills that you'll be practicing for the Reading section anyway. Once you've figured out what the author's saying, you won't have any problem identifying the correct way to edit each passage.

Vocabulary questions are the most challenging. The answer choices are almost always eighth-grade level words that are synonyms of each other: for example, question 10 on practice test 1 includes the words satiated, fulfilled, complacent, and sufficient. Studying from flash cards won't help you identify the words' subtle differences in meaning. Fortunately, I can show you study techniques that will help you learn several hundred vocabulary words for each book you read.

If you want an elite score of 1520+ on the SAT, we'll set your Writing goal at 370/400 or higher.

U.C. Berkeley
Chemistry
Stanford University
Master's

Education

U.C. Berkeley (Chemistry)

Stanford University (Master's)

Very Good

Darren knows the ACT in and out. Definitely worth it. Has lots of resources and knows his stuff. He himself has taken the ACT many times and has acheived a perfect 36.

— Nick, Moraga, CA on 9/7/17

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $199.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Darren will travel within 10 miles of Lafayette, CA 94549.