Epsom Tutor

I am an experienced tutor in both English and Biology and can offer students a solid grounding in both subjects to AS and A level. I also have a 95% success record in the Oxbridge entrance exams (only one student has ever failed to make the grade) despite no pre-screening of candidates. My training is in undergraduate tuition at Oxford but.I have ten years experience in A level tutoring and have taken many students from an E to an A in English and from a B to full marks in Biology. I have a doctorate from Oxford in English Literature and a Natural Science degree from Cambridge, where I specialised in Biology.

In English, I specialise in two types of tutoring. Depending on pass grades at GCSE, I can offer a structured approach to English literature students, focusing on basic grammar and textual analysis. In the past I have helped students to move up five grades, from E to A, largely by going back over core skills and by teaching them how to analyse written text in quite a formal way.

I help students to produce eye-catching essays which will impress the examiners. Whether they are hoping for a C grade or an A*, every candidate can improve their score by honing their essay skills. It's simply a matter of knowing how to structure the answers and write analytically.

Biology A level is probably the most demanding and unforgiving of all subjects. The specification is vast and every exam question is compulsory, so students must understand all aspects of the syllabus and be able to apply their knowledge quickly and accurately. This is tough, and means that every paper is as much a comprehension exercise as a test of factual information. I provide an individually-structured learning programme tailored to each of the three major specifications: AQA, Edexcel and OCR. I take students through all the theory that they will need to gain an A* but I also expect them to do questions for themselves. Success comes through hard work in Biology and sadly there are no short-cuts.

Pre-U Literature in English:
I have been helping students with the English Pre-U almost since its inception. This exam requires a different approach from A level, and I structure my tutoring accordingly. I emphasise the historical and contextual aspects of literature, both English and American as demanded by the specification, and familiarise candidates with the technicalities of close reading to help prepare them for the Unseen paper.

It is always a pleasure, and a challenge, to teach Oxbridge candidates. At Oxford, I was lucky enough to observe the admissions procedure for several of the colleges. I know what the admissions tutors are looking for, and, though I cannot guarantee success, I can give would-be undergraduates the skills they need to tackle the entrance tests and interviews with confidence.

Everyone I have tutored for their Oxbridge entrance exams for both English literature and Biology has got in, except for one, but I have a few stipulations to make. The universities check your GCSE, AS and predicted grades before they even start the selection process. If the vast majority of these don't reach A* standard, it doesn't matter how hard you work for your tests and interview. The chances are they won't take you. And please don't turn up the weekend before the interview and think that I can help; I'd love to but it's too late by then. Cambridge Natural Sciences is the hardest degree in the world and the selection process is tough.You will need to know your A2 syllabus in advance and we will build on it from there. For English literature, be prepared to re-examine the way you study texts.

In my early career, I worked as a scientific journalist, writing for Nature, The Times and the BBC. After taking a break to bring up five children, I went back to university and gained a first class degree in English literature, followed by a master's degree and PhD (or DPhil as they call it) at Oxford. This has given me unusual insight into textual analysis. English is a rich and complex language, and what is left unsaid is as important as what we read on the page. I can offer my students lessons in journalistic, technical, critical or literary analysis at any level, from GCSE to Higher Education.

My CV is outlined below:

             DPhil, University of Oxford, 'Mathematics and Fiction in Victorian England'
             MPhil, University of Oxford, English literature'
             BA (Hons), Kingston University  (First class)
             Features editor, New Health magazine, Haymarket publishing
             Freelance work for The Times and the BBC
             Editorial assistant, Nature (the science journal)
             Certificat de langue, Universite de Grenoble, France (First class)    
             BA Natural Sciences (Biological) Trinity College, Cambridge (Class: II i)

Publications: ‘Hard Times and statistics’, BSHM Bulletin; ‘Alice’s adventures in algebra: Wonderland solved’, New Scientist; ‘Algebra In Wonderland’, New York Times; Book review: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, Historia Mathematica

Tutoring Experience

I have been tutoring for the past ten years in:

English (A level literature, Pre-U literature, Oxbridge entrance, GCSE)
Biology (A level, GCSE, iGCSE)
Chemistry (GCSE, iGCSE)

I have stopped teaching GCSE

Tutoring Approach

Every student is different, so my approach varies from person to person.With English, I make sure that everyone has a solid grounding in grammar so that they can write with confidence. Some love this, so we tackle the language studies quite formally, learning to build complex linguistic structures from simple, well-practised elements. Some find this structured method difficult, so we try a more intuitive approach, writing short pieces of text together.
In literature, I think it is essential that everyone should understand how poetry and prose work, so we tease apart classical texts and I show the students how the authors make us respond in the way that we do. We cover a little history of poetry, I make sure the students have a sound knowledge and understanding of their set texts and I teach them how to scan and to analyse poetic structure.
With the sciences, I find that constant practice and repetition work best. We go over a topic, then work on some questions. We pick out any weaknesses, go over them again and then try a few more questions.

My timetable is now too full to allow me to travel. My apologies for that. I can only accept new students who are prepared to come to me.

LanguagesEnglish (British), French
AvailabilityWeekdays (all times)
References Available On File


University of Oxford2010DoctorateDPhil
University of Oxford2001MastersMPhil
Kingston University1999BachelorsBA
University of Cambridge1985MastersMA

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