Voted the most outstanding overall tutor in Mathematical, Physical, Engineering and Life Sciences throughout Oxford University in 2016 (out of several thousand tutors and over 650 nominees). I am the only mathematician and youngest ever recipient of the award.
After graduating with the highest average exam and dissertation marks across all mathematicians in Oxford University, I became a tutor, lecturer and Fellow at the university. I have since taught at all stages of the education process from primary school children through to postgraduate students at university. I primarily teach at Oxford, where I have tutored nineteen different courses since 2011.
Aside from my teaching roles, I run a mathematical modelling consultancy company. From this position, I oversee a number of internships which are designed to show students how mathematics is applied in industry, and to provide them with skills that will help their future employability.
I am a Fellow, lecturer and tutor at Oxford University. Since 2011, I have taught nineteen different courses. I was awarded a teaching prize by the Mathematical Institute in 2015, before becoming the only mathematician ever to be voted the most outstanding overall tutor in Mathematical, Physical, Engineering and Life Sciences throughout Oxford University in 2016.
It has been a real pleasure for me to teach some of the best undergraduates in the world. In addition to those studying at Oxford, I have tutored students from other universities including Harvard, Cornell, Michigan, Chicago and New York. I am also a trained interviewer for Oxford undergraduate applicants, and have been invited to give career advice to PhD and postdoc students in mathematics, statistics and computer science.
I’m regularly invited to schools as part of outreach projects to inspire school students in areas of mathematics and science. I’ve helped primary school pupils get into their secondary schools of choice, and the overwhelming majority of previous students at GCSE, International Baccalaureate and A Level have gone on to achieve the highest grades. In one particularly pleasing instance, I coached a student to get into university even though they had not taken any A Levels beforehand. He went on to achieve a high First Class degree and is now undertaking postgraduate studies.
Education is a passion of mine, and a subject about which I have written several articles. I have an active role in mentoring and supervising third and fourth year university students, and oversee matters concerning welfare and well-being for all undergraduate years. I have also established a series of student-run workshops to teach others mathematics and computer programming, and am currently promoting an initiative within Oxford to improve teaching standards.
Here is a selection of my recent testimonials, followed by a short account of my views concerning maths tuition:
“…Zubin’s enthusiasm for his subject rubs off on his students and makes them look forward to the tutorials with him – something that certainly cannot be said about every tutorial…”
“It’s been an honour to spend this summer with Zubin, as I feel like I learned a lot in the short time we were together, which is a testament to his teaching…”
“Zubin is not just an exceptional tutor, but a great person, who deserves recognition for all he has done for his students.”
“…The departmental teaching award Zubin received in 2015 is reflective of his outstanding ability and not a student he teaches has a bad word to say…”
“…Zubin has a relentless commitment to teaching, infectious enthusiasm for mathematics and he inspires confidence within his students….”
“…One of the most impressive aspects I have found about Zubin as a tutor is his ability to make all students enjoy whatever he teaches…”
“…Generally, in Mathematics classes and tutorials, getting students to answer questions and express themselves is as hard as teaching any concept. Somehow, Zubin manages to initiate healthy debate amongst all of his pupils. This not only means that students look forward to his classes, but also that every student tries to impress him in their problem sheets…”
“…Zubin goes out of his way to help…”
“…Zubin is very gifted at painting the problems as a picture that can be applied to the world around us, making them a joy to tackle. Thinking back to last week after our meeting, I found myself playing cards and I calculated the probability of getting the specific cards that were in my hand. The whole night, I was eager to get back home so I could confirm that the calculation I made was correct, and fortunately it was!”
“…I am very grateful that you went above and beyond the set time to allow for me to process everything, which was very generous…”
“...Zubin is a large part of why I now enjoy and value undergraduate teaching so much. He has had a great influence on my personal and intellectual development and I will be happy if I can affect my students even just half as profoundly as he has affected me…”
“…I believe Zubin greatly improved my understanding of the material I was being taught and inspired me to work harder and learn more. He greatly enriched my overall experience of learning mathematics and always helped support me where possible with my applications for further study, first for my bachelors in Physics and secondly for my current Masters in Computational Science and Engineering…”
“…Throughout his time as a tutor, Zubin has always gone above and beyond his responsibilities to ensure that I, and everyone he comes into contact with, can get the most out of their time at Oxford. From his first lesson, Zubin has been comfortable explaining tough concepts in easy-to-understand ways…”
“…Zubin is a tutor who genuinely cares about the welfare of the people he teaches and it is obvious that he enjoys what he does…”
“… I always felt as if Zubin went above and beyond to help me understand something that I was having difficulty with and I always felt comfortable to ask him a question regardless of whether it could be considered simple or not, something which I feel not all teachers actually encourage or respond well to…”
“…It is obvious from a student’s point of view that Zubin’s knowledge of the material he teaches is superb. I was always able to ask him anything and he could immediately answer me. He was not only able to provide an answer to the question but quickly and easily able to come up with examples and had a clear grasp of the topics from first principles, allowing him to explain something adequately such that I could also obtain a deeper understanding of the material. This is something which in my experience is often overlooked by today’s standards and has not enough emphasis placed upon it…”
“I can thoroughly recommend Zubin as a tutor and an advisor. He was a pleasure to be taught by and I would happily be taught by him again in the future.”
“…The preparation that Zubin puts into his classes and tutorials is visible whenever he teaches. The extra effort he puts into knowing the lecture courses inside-out is significant for his pupils, and allows for the most interesting facets of any module to be discussed in the greatest detail, without any worry of topics not being covered. By preparing in this way, he allows the pressure to be taken off of his pupils so that they can concentrate on understanding the tougher concepts…”
“…Even in university courses unrelated to what he has taught me, Zubin has always taken the time to sit with me and help me to understand whenever I’ve been stuck. In my third year, I really struggled with a course on Continuous-Time Martingales. Zubin read through the lecture notes and recommended books, and spent 3 hours with me outside of his tutoring time to support me when the lecturer wouldn’t. He advised me what to read, explained difficult concepts, and made arrangements for other professors to help. Without his continued support, I would not have managed to complete the course…”
“…Zubin has been an incredible source of advice for all of his pupils outside of their academic lives. He keeps in contact with every one of his students to give them help whenever it is asked for. I know no one else in my personal or professional life who is so eager and capable to give guidance and support whenever he can…”
“…Through his consultancy company, Zubin offered work experience to many of his students so that we could learn how maths is applied in industry. He set up a non-revenue generating project for the group, spending his time over the Summer helping us, just so that we could gain skills that might help our future employment…”
“…Zubin is always willing to help. If there are any areas that his students have not understood, he is more than happy to go over these areas with them in his own time and has done his utmost to help students understand concepts, and give them confidence, leading up to exams…”
“…Having been a student himself at Oxford, Zubin knows what it is like to be a student here. He has either faced or seen most of the concerns we face as students and has as a result always had an open ear to our worries and was willing to give his advice or help where he could…”
“…Zubin has the ability to recognize talent in students even before they do. When I arrived in Oxford, I was very insecure in my mathematical ability and believed that since I was at Oxford, all the other students must be so much more academically capable than I was. It was Zubin who made me believe that I was actually very capable in mathematics myself and gave me the confidence to succeed in my undergraduate – and to be confident enough to apply for a DPhil in Oxford...”
“…Zubin has always been one to recognize, and praise, his student’s time and effort, even if their answers had not been perfectly correct. This has resulted in every one of us willing to work hard for these tutorials….”
“…Zubin has managed to implant a great desire to learn into all of us. The best way to see this is probably in the fact that out of the six pure Mathematics students in my year, five have chosen to do further studies, a PhD or Masters, while the last individual is now looking to return to academia this year. All of us agree that a lot of this is due to Zubin…”
“…Zubin consistently goes above and beyond to help Maths students in college… Moreover, he understands better than any other tutor that I’ve come across that there is a pastoral responsibility that tutors need to be appreciating and often aren’t…”
“…Zubin even went to so far as to regularly provide help and teaching sessions for subjects that he wasn’t responsible for. If he wasn’t available in college to tutor us, then he would make it a point to offer to teach us via skype, regardless of how busy his schedule was…”
“…Not only did Zubin ensure we had a strong understanding of the course material, but he also made a point to instil confidence in us of our abilities…”
“…A testament to Zubin’s brilliance was that he knew exactly what to say for us to teach our potential... An inspiring talk like the one he gave me helped push in the right direction and earn the marks that I got...”
“…Despite being one of the brightest people in his area, being a visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford only five years after graduating with a MMath, his ability to break things down to an easily understandable level is astonishing. This has resulted in many students seeking advice from Zubin before their exams for explanations of concepts in any subject areas, even if Zubin has not been teaching these…”
“…Zubin is a tutor who happily goes beyond the call of duty in order to help his students learn and thrive…”
“Zubin tutored me in maths for all 3 of my years at Oxford. He served as a brilliant tutor who truly cared for the well-being of his students. He explained the most abstract mathematical concepts in an easy to understand manner…”
“Zubin is an excellent tutor; not only is he very clear during the tutorials, but he is very encouraging and supportive. Thanks to him, I have developed a keen interest in continuing studying maths.”
“You have done a huge amount for A-. It came at the perfect time and not only did it rescue him from thinking he couldn’t do maths, but gave him an enjoyment of it.”
“Thank you so much for today. L- absolutely loved it. It was so wonderful to see her enthusiastic about maths and she explained everything that she had done. It’s been a while since she’s come anywhere near to enjoying maths, so thank you so much.”
“Thank you so much! It is very nice to have such an amazing and supportive tutor. You are really a role model for me in many ways, your commitment to students is indeed inspiring. Thank you!”
My views about maths tutoring:
A depressingly large number of pupils give up on maths at school because they find it difficult or uninspiring. I have a lot of sympathy with this view. Students often get told that mathematics is important in real life, but very few actually get shown how it is applied. Moreover, it is very easy to get discouraged in class, especially when you don’t succeed in mastering a technique early on and fall further and further behind as later lessons build on what came before.
Fortunately, there are ways to help. I firmly believe that anyone can become a very good mathematician in a relatively short period of time. One of the most important things to appreciate is that solving maths problems is like deconstructing a puzzle. Everyone struggles, and the more you persevere, the better you end up performing. I've taught some of the best students in Oxford, and I know they don’t find it easy. When you see someone effortlessly solve a maths problem, you don’t see all the effort that went into learning the technique and the practice beforehand.
When you learn how to turn maths problems into puzzles, and once you adopt an attitude of curiosity (always ask yourself “Why is that true?”) then you find that everything soon becomes much clearer. There is a strong sense of personal achievement when you master a new mathematical technique; the “Aha!” moment that occurs when it clicks makes the effort worthwhile.
I am always keen to stress to student that there is no such thing as a "silly question". Complicated mathematical techniques build upon those that are simpler, so you often find that you have to go backwards and relearn more basic ideas before you can make progress going forwards. Mastering the first steps is really important. I recently had an undergraduate at Oxford get stuck on a question in abstract algebra. When we discussed the problem, it turned out that he couldn’t make progress because it came down to a question related to long division, but he had missed a few months of school when he was very young and had never learned the technique. So we went right back to primary school and started from there. Perhaps this is not what he expected to do as a university student!
I think it’s also important to realise that learning maths teaches you a way of thinking. Solving a quadratic equation might not make much of a difference in itself to the rest of your life, but the ability to answer questions by thinking logically and objectively is a skill that remains with you long after you finish your maths exams.
At the beginning, to offer some inspiration to learn, it certainly helps to see some of the powerful ways in which mathematics is used to solve problems in the world around us. How do aeroplanes stay up in the sky? Why does the wind blow? How does Facebook tag people in photos automatically? In addition to my teaching, I run a mathematical modelling consultancy company which does work ranging from analysing financial algorithms to designing the strategy for some of the most successful global sports teams and Olympic squads. I think it is very important for students to appreciate the place of mathematics in the world to serve as motivation for learning the core concepts, and I try to convey this whenever I am teaching.
It goes without saying that every student is different, and the challenge for the tutor is being adaptable and working out what explanation is most effective for your current student. That’s what makes tutoring fun – not only do you need to be an expert in your subject, but you also need to find the different methods to best help your different students. Seeing the “Aha!” moment when a student suddenly resolves their confusion is one of the most rewarding feelings that a tutor can have.
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