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I believe that there is no reason why Math or Science classes should be intimidating and off-putting for anybody. The internal logic and conceptual clarity of these subjects combined

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Algebra is undoubtedly the cornerstone of any mathematical high school training. However, unfortunately, too often high school algebra classes tend to be boring, confusing and overwhelming, and the algebra textbooks are getting just fatter with more and more colorful pictures and yet not any easier for students to understand or retain the material.

What’s needed though is a simple clear logical explanation of the basic concepts and their interrelation. And, then, instead of rote memorization of disjoint collection of techniques and proofs, each student should be presented with well thought individually focused sets of examples and exercises, gradually leading the student to deep lasting comprehension of the subject and providing him or her with solid dynamic skills of problem solving. That is the approach I’ve been using in my over a decade-long practice of tutoring Algebra (I & II) for high school kids in the US and France.

I always base my methods on the creative tenets of best American (M. Gardner) and European (I. Gelfand and G. Polya) math educators, as well as my own experience as a former graduate (with distinction) and, subsequently, math teacher at the Math and Physics School of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

Algebra is undoubtedly the cornerstone of any mathematical high school training. However, unfortunately, too often high school algebra classes tend to be boring, confusing and overwhelming, and the algebra textbooks are getting just fatter with more and more colorful pictures and yet not any easier for students to understand or retain the material.

What’s needed though is a simple clear logical explanation of the basic concepts and their interrelation. And, then, instead of rote memorization of disjoint collection of techniques and proofs, each student should be presented with well thought individually focused sets of examples and exercises, gradually leading the student to deep lasting comprehension of the subject and providing him or her with solid dynamic skills of problem solving. That is the approach I’ve been using in my over a decade-long practice of tutoring Algebra (I & II) for high school kids in the US and France.

I always base my methods on the creative tenets of best American (M. Gardner) and European (I. Gelfand and G. Polya) math educators, as well as my own experience as a former graduate (with distinction) and, subsequently, math teacher at the Math and Physics School of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

Following the principles of some of the best American and European calculus educators –M. Gardner, I. Gelfand, G. Polya— I always try to show my students why a particular solution method is intuitive and logical, not making them rote memorize numerous cumbersome formulas and proofs. Most topics and concepts of calculus come from practical problems and needs, wherever in physics, engineering, or economics, and often evoke very visual intuitive constructs and situations. The trick when teaching calculus is, therefore, to find that right balance between the necessary mathematical rigor and the intuition.

In both pre-calculus and calculus, I start with the basic concepts, and gradually walk my students through the specifically chosen and individually adjusted sets of examples and exercises to help them first understand the logic of the applied approaches, then steadily master their problem solving and test skills, and finally to challenge the students with more complex aspects of a particular topic or chapter.

Chemistry is the most fascinating science telling us about matter - materials and substances around us, their changes and mutual transformations, their properties and countless uses everywhere in our lives and nature. Hence, studying chemistry at any level, from high school to the most advanced chemical engineering or biochemical programs, should and can always remain fun and captivating exploration rather than just memorizing of nomenclatures or dry accounting of “moles, atomic percentages, and possible electronic configurations”.

How to make this study interesting, dynamic and yet scientifically rigorous is exactly the skill of chemistry teacher or tutor. My approach to any creative scientific learning is its personalization. I try to constantly fine-tune the way I present new concepts, choose illustrating examples and explain problem-solving methods to the individual responses and progress of each student I tutor. Some students achieve good understanding and a long lasting grasp of chemical models or reaction processes when presented with detailed systematic concept of a particular topic, some learn much better from several clear examples; often it is a mix of the two. To catch that winning combination for every student is the critical task of the tutor.

Another critical task, I believe, is to help each student acquire a genuine taste for problem solving - that is manipulating with quantitative ideas, models, and concepts, not just performing prescribed operations and numerical calculations as many chemistry classes and manuals formally do making the subject tedious and off-putting.

In my case, my own broad chemical education and training (MS in Chemical Physics and Ph. D. in Material Science), together with many years of experience of teaching and tutoring chemistry at various levels (high school, college, graduate) help me with these tasks and ensure quick progress and the ultimate success for my students.

And along the way, I always hope that my students will come to better appreciate the great developments and amazing achievements of Chemistry and Material Science we all are so accustomed to use in all aspects of our everyday lives.

Physical understanding of nature cannot be achieved without extensive problem solving and conducting numerous practical and thought experiments. I believe, the success of solving such problems and designing these experiments is chiefly based on the ability of students’ imagination and analytical intuition while combined with the deep comprehension of basic physical concepts explained by the teacher / tutor. From the very beginning, these concepts should be presented with strict clarity and logic, and illustrated and studiously trained through carefully chosen meaningful and highly relevant exemplar problems, with gradually increasing level of difficulty.

This individualized choice of instructive physical problems and examples is, in my opinion, the most critical piece of the physics tutor’s toolbox and requires a painstaking development and continuous focused improvement. It is also where I as a tutor can and do show my personal preferences and favorites in how physics explains and changes the world around us.

In my own physics education, I was extremely fortunate to have had an exceptional classical and modern physics research-oriented training: at first, as a graduate (with distinction) of the specialized Physics and Math School at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and, then, as an undergraduate and graduate student (MS in Chemical Physics and Ph.D. in Material Science) of the same Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT). During this training, exposed to some of the best educational methods in the field of fundamental and applied physics taught by some of the most distinguished academicians of the time (V.L. Ginsburg, Y.B. Zeldovich, A.A. Abrikosov, J. Alferov, etc.), I myself have acquired an enthusiastic and lasting passion for teaching physics.

My physics educationist’s experience includes teaching several undergraduate college courses (general physics, classical mechanics, solid state physics), as well as an over decade of high school Physics tutoring in Europe and the United States, not to mention the translation and editing of a popular science book—“The Wonders of Physics” (World Scientific, 2001, 2004)—a captivating account of different simple physical phenomena around us.

My main goal and responsibility as a Physics tutor is to provide students with the sturdy combination of fundamental physical knowledge and effective practical skills of problem solving the students then could successfully use in their future science and engineering studies and practices.

I have a decade-long experience of private tutoring of high school math, including precalculus, in the United States, France, and Russia.

Following the principles of some of the best American and European calculus educators (M. Gardner, I. Gelfand, G. Polya), I always try to show my students why a particular solution method is true and logical, not making them rote memorize numerous cumbersome formulas and proofs.

In both precalculus and calculus, I start with the basic concepts, and gradually walk my students through the specifically chosen and individually adjusted sets of examples and exercises to help them first understand the logic of the applied approaches, then steadily master their problem solving and test skills, and finally to challenge the students with more complex aspects of a particular topic or chapter.

SAT Math is a fairly simple standardized test. However, it is 50+ problems and just over an hour to complete them. Hence, the SAT Math is critically about speed of solving math problems and the pressure of time running out.

In this respect, it is quite similar to a competition (which it is after all, since the success gives you a better chance to effectively compete for college admission). And just like for success in any other individual competition, it is very much about the right training: specialized preparation program and personalized coaching, both focused on the areas where you need most strengthening, and practicing different methods and techniques to best balance the limited time resource.

In my approach to individual training for the SAT math tests, I specifically focus on various problem speed-solving techniques, with the built-in instant result checking (you won’t most likely have time to review your answers otherwise) and the advanced time management skills and tricks, similar to those used in national and international math and science competitions.

With a right individualized coaching program and consistent student’s effort, this approach, normally within several weeks, allows to drop the problem solving time by, at least, a third, boosting the final math score, typically, by 30-50 %.

Trigonometry may truly be considered as a center subject of the high school math. It originates in geometry and then leads into much deeper periodic functional relations and applications in calculus, physics, and astronomy.

My approach to tutoring trigonometry (as well as to other branches of high school and college math) is to start with the basic concepts, and gradually walk my students through the specifically chosen and individually adjusted sets of examples and exercises to help them first understand the logic of the applied approaches, then steadily master their problem solving and test skills, and finally to challenge the students with more complex aspects of a particular topic or chapter.

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Math and Science tutor for high school and college students, Ph.D./MS