The mission of Success in Math is to hire supremely accomplished tutors and provide them to parents and students who want great tutors. To reach that goal, we screen very carefully, and turn down almost everybody. We require our tutors to have a number of skills, accomplishments, and personal attributes. Specifically:
—The ability to break down abstract mathematical/scientific concepts and explain them in a way that’s understandable to their students. More than anything else, this is the skill that defines a great tutor. We test for this skill through simulated tutoring sessions during the interview. The candidate is given a series of math/science problems and asked to explain them to the interviewer, who plays the role of a student. Within 15 minutes we can see who really excels.
— Superb mathematical/scientific ability. Tutors (unlike teachers) are continually faced with problems that they have never seen before. To be effective, the tutor must be able to solve these problems immediately, and then explain them to their students. This is why having command over one’s subject is critical to successful tutoring.
We limit our candidates to those who have scored in the 95th percentile or higher on the SAT/ACT Math exam, or SAT Math/Sceince subject Tests, or GRE equivalent. Many of our tutors have scored in the 99th percentile. In a recent year, more than half had perfect scores on at least one of these tests.
—A B.S. (or higher) from a leading university. The competition for admission to top universities is intense, and those who gain entry have generally shown significant accomplishment beyond academics. By selecting our tutors from leading univesrties, we acquire people who can be mentors and role models as well as great tutors.
We narrow our search to graduates of the UC system, other top state universities, and the elite private colleges. Many of our tutors have masters degrees or PhDs. We draw heavily from the graduate programs in math, science, and engineering at UC Irvine.
—Deep experience, recently exercised. The more a tutor explains a concept, the better his or her explanation. We require our people to have at least 3 years of one on one tutoring experience. Most have tutored from 5-10 years. Classroom teaching doesn’t count. Good teachers may or may not be good tutors; tutoring and teaching are not the same. Furthermore, all tutors must have recently tutored the subject(s) they will be tutoring. This is important because no matter how bright or how expereinced a person is, he/she will not be effective unless the material is fresh in his/her mind.
—A friendly personality. Tutors, unlike teachers, work very closely with their students, so it’s essential that they establish a good personal connection with them. We target people who are friendly and engaging.
—Patience. This is an important attribute because a tutor can never show frustration when a student is struggling. In fact, if the student doesn’t understand something, it’s the tutor’s fault, not the student’s.
—Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm helps energize and motivate students.
—Stellar references. This is the final check in the selection process.