Tom M.

Portland, OR


Expert Exam Prep - 19 years experience with all kinds of students.

2000+ Hours
Background check passed as of 2/24/16
4.9 average from 451 ratings
Math genius
— Miriam, Vancouver, WA on 7/23/15


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Michigan State University


Michigan State University (Astrophysics)

About Tom

I've been training, teaching and tutoring on and off since 1987, and tutoring exclusively since 2005.

I tutor simply because I enjoy helping others succeed by mastering the essential principles that will apply in all contexts. I specialize in preparing students for exams like the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT, but can also help with advanced math, chemistry and physics at both the high school and college level.

I can provide study material and several practice exams. I can usually help a student fully prepare for most exams in 4 to 8 weeks.

When it comes to standardized tests, I believe in teaching to the test, because the research shows that is the best way to improve your score.

That doesn't mean short-cuts or tricks, however; that means knowing the essential principles of math, logic, science and English that you need to score high on the specific test, no more, no less.

While you need to know essential math for the SAT, GRE, or GMAT, these tests are not math tests - they are problem solving tests, so I focus on the strategy and techniques to exploit those essential principles!

Many people have difficulty with such exams because they are nervous about being on the clock or the high stakes. If your real scores are significantly below your practice scores, such anxiety might be the cause. Likewise, if you find yourself forgetting things during the real test that you clearly remember knowing shortly before, you are almost certainly suffering from too much anxiety. (Some anxiety is actually a resource, but too much of a good thing backfires.)

If you experience anxiety with math specifically or tests generally, there are many, many options for dialing down your nerves, so please let me show you a way out of the woods.

If you seek help with math, physics or chemistry, then the main difference in my approach is simply omitting practice tests. The trade-off is that we do have to include ALL the relevant principles, which is actually more work for the student, but it's also more useful.

Finally, I have NO CANCELLATION policy - that means you can cancel any session or all future sessions with NO PENALTY.

I am busy enough that I can usually fill dropped future sessions, and if I can't, I often need the break anyway. Further, I have a 6 year old, so there is always a possibility that I may have to cancel for some emergency with him, and it's just not right to charge a student for a cancelled session when they cannot charge me for the same thing. So I don't!
I've been training, teaching and tutoring on and off since 1987, and tutoring exclusively since 2005.

I tutor simply because I enjoy helping others succeed by mastering the essential principles that will apply in all contexts. I specialize in preparing students for exams like the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT and MCAT, but can also help with
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Travel Radius
Travels within 8 miles of Portland, OR 97230
Background Check: Passed

"Math genius"

- Miriam, Vancouver, WA on 7/23/15

"Amazing tutor with unique insights"

- Anna, Portland, OR on 11/26/17

"Amazing Tutor"

- Jennifer, Portland, OR on 5/18/17

"Knowledgeable, patience and empathetic"

- Rosa, Happy Valley, OR on 3/3/17

"Great single session!"

- Nicholas, Portland, OR on 2/18/17


- Kyle, Portland, OR on 11/7/16

"Tom takes hard concepts and breaks them down so they're crystal clear!"

- Julia, Arlington, VA on 10/28/16

"Fantastic thoughtful tutor"

- Sarah, Portland, OR on 10/27/16

"Patient and experienced"

- Hongbo, Palo Alto, CA on 9/19/16

"Very helpful"

- Sarah, Springfield, VA on 9/19/16

"Excellent Tutor!"

- Ana, Annapolis, MD on 6/25/16

"Great tutor!"

- John, Hamilton, MT on 5/16/16

"Very Knowledgeable tutor and helpful"

- Vickie, Vancouver, WA on 5/15/16

"An Excellent Tutor and a Wonderful Person"

- Matt, Rockaway Park, NY on 2/25/16

"Great Head Start"

- Candra, Knoxville, TN on 2/6/16

"Great help"

- Alyse, Marietta, GA on 10/11/15

"Brilliant and kind."

- Lola, Brush Prairie, WA on 9/15/15

"Tom has a great deal of knowledge and resources to share with his students!"

- Laurie, Jupiter, FL on 8/9/15

"He is awesome and gives homework that is great learning and fun."

- Nathalie, Hillsboro, OR on 7/19/15

"Excellent Calculus Tutor"

- Nathan, Vancouver, WA on 6/9/15

"Best tutor!!!"

- Mp, Overland Park, KS on 10/14/14

"Extremely knowledgeable and excellent communicator"

- Penny Lynn, Saint Louis, MO on 3/2/14

"Great demeanor and fantastic results"

- Mike, San Clemente, CA on 6/29/13

"Great tutor"

- Maureen, Chicago, IL on 5/20/13

"Amazing tutor. Great experience."

- Dave, Calverton, NY on 4/26/13

"Amazing tutor"

- Alan, Morgantown, WV on 4/22/13

"Very patient, extremely knowledgeable."

- Daniel, Bronx, NY on 3/12/13

"Great Teacher"

- Javier, Fort Worth, TX on 12/6/12

"Thank you."

- Tammy, Glendale, AZ on 11/5/12

"GMAT 670 to 720 in four sessions"

- Pete, Santa Monica, CA on 11/2/12

"Great teacher"

- Sean, Fort Bragg, NC on 10/17/12

"Tom is very patient and incredibly intelligent!"

- Nic, Plano, TX on 9/2/12
ACT Math, Algebra 1,
Algebra 2,
GMAT, GRE, Precalculus, Probability, SAT Math, Trigonometry
ACT Science, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Philosophy,
Physical Science, Physics
ACT English, ACT Reading, SAT Reading, SAT Writing
Test Preparation:
ACT English, ACT Math, ACT Reading, ACT Science, ASVAB, GMAT, GRE, SAT Math, SAT Reading, SAT Writing

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

Algebra is a language for writing recipes that do calculations.

It's also the wacky rules for turning one recipe into another, which are called arithmetic when you apply them to numbers.

Once you get familiar with translating between them, you'll sail.

Algebra 2

One of the best parts about Algebra II is that you finish numbers!

The geometry and algebra keep going on into the stratosphere of calculus and variations and multiple dimensions &tc, but at least one big chunk of math wraps up; the imaginary number i "completes" algebra.

(And actually, it does exist, it isn't merely a symbol or concept.)

I first tutored a friend with her algebra in 1987. Since then I've taken a degree in physics and if you google 'sangaku' you'll see one of my favorite types of algebra puzzle.

If the roots and quadratics and polynomials and exponents and rational expressions and systems and analytic geometry have got you down, let me help you do it the easy way.


Warning! Some people experience a loss of eyebrows, from being continually astonished at all the amazing things Calculus can do!

I've been tutoring students in Calculus since 2007. I've seen it happen.

"The Queen Of The Sciences" doesn't have to be difficult.

Bishop Berkeley said Newton was cheating on his algebra. Newton said Leibniz was plagiarizing.

So now textbooks use Newton's methods...with Leibniz' notation.

If you use Leibniz methods, it makes a lot more sense...which has to make you wonder why Newton got all the credit.


Geometry is a two-part subject;

1) shapes and their sizes

2) argument (AKA, proofs)

We don't just want to know things, we must also know WHY we know things.

We start with shapes anyone can draw in the sand, but the habit of backing up your notions extends across every field of scholarship and created the scientific revolution.

The Greeks tried to model the universe with numbers and arithmetic, thinking numbers only had meaning when attached to areas or lengths. The square root of two defeated that ambition.

Ironically, the modern world largely succeeded crafting a geometrical model of the world, and String Theory presents a geometrical basis for the QM world our "geometrical physics" (so-called for decades) science discovered.

Most of engineering and science still depends on basic geometry, not only for the physical triangles and other shapes necessary for any structure, but also as metaphors for interactions that aren't actually geometrical at all.


Philosophy has been called 'the science of everyday life' because as a field it seeks to answer deep questions on the basis of experience that everyone shares.

How can we know things? What can we know? Can we know things? Where are we, really? What comes next? Are we free? Is there a God? Do we really share ideas, or just sounds?

"BS Artist" is a common and fairly accurate description of many of it's students, including some of the most famous. Learning their errors will help you remember their stories.

Like computer programming, the field of philosophy has a focus on strict logic that scares off a lot of students.

If that's what you need help with, we'll jump right into syllogisms, venn diagrams, conditionals and prepositional calculus.

That part is easier than it sounds.


I took a degree in astrophysics from Michigan State University in 2000. I also worked at the school observatory and did some programming for the SOHO observatory (which popularized coronal mass ejections but is now largely obsolete).

I began tutoring full time in 2005, mostly in physics and chemistry, but with a few students taking standardized tests.

I've never worked with a net (ie, answer sheets) because I've always been working from whatever book my student brings. Sometimes I'll ask you to look up an answer when I'm not sure.

Physics problems are mostly just math with units, though it's been said that physics is for people who never stopped asking kid's questions; "Why is the sky blue, why does it fall so fast, why does it do that?"

Units make measurements quite different from mere numbers; they describe the sizes of particular kinds of things. Miles are not just different sizes, but entirely different kinds of things than minutes.

Equations using units are abstract recipes for calculating one measurement from another... yet our muscles and brains do those calculations all the time!

"Physics" as a subject, is really a language for talking about those interactions which we live and are and cope with daily. Those complex formulas describe the relationships between measurements, and done right, there are far fewer than it seems.

Using them, we can convert one measurement into another, or predict another... or another, including the sort we don't experience directly.

Everyone can judge the speed of a car while deciding to cross the street, or when to duck to avoid a tire swing, or the expected impact when we don't.

With the math and units, we can and have discovered and identified truly amazing things quite far outside our experience... yet we can and must always relate it all back to the Big Five.

(Time, force, rotation, length and charge, the dimensions we experience directly.)


Master your triangles, and you will have the essential tools for analyzing all structures, for the universe is built largely of triangular relations.

If you're memorizing your way through trigonometry, please stop killing yourself. Let me help you (re)discover a better way.

Done right, trig is absolutely the easiest 'higher' math class on the list.

If you can draw a triangle and set up a proportion, you already have 80% of the essential skills. And if you can't, that's exactly where we'll start!

Michigan State University


Michigan State University (Astrophysics)

Math genius

Tom tutored my daughter on AP Calculus BC. She had gotten a 2 on AP Calc AB last year. And guess what? This year she got a 5 on BC. Thanks Tom!

— Miriam, Vancouver, WA on 7/23/15

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $85.00

Travel policy

Tom will travel within 8 miles of Portland, OR 97230.