tutoring helps student master calculus

Calculus Tutoring: Taking it one infinitesimal step at a time

Calculus can often be an intimidating class for students. The subject matter can feel like the culmination of all a student’s previous courses, and in many ways, it is. Many students struggle with calculus as a result of weak mathematics fundamentals. These weaknesses are where every good tutor must start when helping a student master his or her calculus class.

Calculus Tutoring: First Steps

A calculus tutor should initiate the sessions with a student by assessing which of the building blocks of calculus –algebra, geometry, and pre-algebra – are weakest by providing the student with problems that test these skills. The topics of functions, slopes, limits, trigonometry, graphing, and logs are among the most important to review as these are the key topics learned in pre-calculus and a mastery of these requires a mastery of the lower level material as well. At this point in time, it is beneficial for a tutor to introduce how these topics will relate to the work being learned in the calculus course itself. This provides the student with a strong foundation on which to stand for their upcoming work as well as a new way to frame the concepts.

Using Calculus Tutoring to Overcome Challenges with Motivation

A second issue students often encounter is motivation. Calculus has developed a reputation for something only aerospace engineers should be using but nothing could be further from the truth! An MIT course in calculus offers a calculus tutor an excellent jumping off point for helping a student recognize the importance (and the fun, though that’s a harder sell) of learning the material. The issue of motivation often stems from the seemingly esoteric nature of the methods involved in applying calculus to problems. For this, a good tutor must have an arsenal of analogies such as this one for explaining the application of a derivative or this one to elucidate an integral. Understanding how a student likes to solve problems – visually, logically, or by trial and error – can cue a tutor to what kind of analogies work best on an individual basis.

All students will learn calculus best not by memorizing the theorems of calculus but by working through, and many times struggling through, problems. Lots and lots of problems! However, it is difficult for even the best tutor to generate calculus practice work on the spot. The material is too complex and the potential for mid-problem error is high. In light of this, one of the best preparations a tutor can make to help his or her student is to amass an arsenal of resources from which he or she can draw problems from any part of the calculus curriculum. Because we live in this wonderfully digital age, tutors can find these kinds of problems for free from highly reputable sources such as Khan Academy, MIT Open Course Ware, and if the level of the course permits, the College Board AP Calculus site.

Having a wide variety of problems can also assist in any motivation issues a student can have. There are many real world examples that can be solved by calculus. A good tutor will take the time to learn which of these kinds of problems is of most interest to a student. In this way, a tutor can select problems that challenge a student’s weaknesses while simultaneously piquing his or her attention. One of the most popular, and perhaps most practical, kinds of problems is the application of compounding interest on an investment to teach of the concept of infinitesimal steps and review the concepts of limits.

The complexity of calculus and the intimidation students feel about the subject makes it a unique subject to tutor and requires the extra skills of a well-experienced tutor. Calculus starts off as a sprint, with a rapid review of nearly every mathematical concept a student has learned to date. From there the course becomes an obstacle course with the student encountering a new, more challenging, and seemingly different obstacle each week. A good tutor will be able to help the student move seamlessly through each of these obstacles by employing an arsenal of analogies to help explain the concepts along with problems to help teach them. Thus a good tutor is like an integral in this way, using many small infinitesimal steps to help the student get from point A to B. Better still, a good tutor will use these steps to get a student from a B to an A!

By Liz Iffrig

Lizz Iffrig grew up in Philadelphia, PA before attending MIT in Cambridge, MA. She graduated in June 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science, double majoring in Chemistry and Biology with an unregistered minor in Literature focusing on classical literature. She recently completed her graduate studies, in which she simultaneously pursued a medical degree (MD) from Emory University and a PhD in Biological Engineering from Georgia Tech. During her graduate studies, Lizz tutored for Atlanta Tutors. Now she regularly contributes to our blog.

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Atlanta Tutoring Service

Atlanta Tutors is a local Atlanta tutoring service that is run by a team of Georgia parents and educators. We aspire to provide tutoring services of the highest caliber and quality.

Our tutors are college graduates with subject expertise and substantial tutoring experience. They are available for in-home tutoring in Atlanta and the surrounding areas for most academic subjects.

We have great expertise in customizing one-on-one tutoring services to meet the unique needs of students from all backgrounds and abilities.

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Summer Tutoring


Atlanta Tutors offers Atlanta area students a variety of summer tutoring programs. We send our tutors to the student’s home, and each summer tutoring program can be tailored to the indivdual student’s specific schedule and tutoring needs.

Our summer tutoring programs include:

6 Weeks Personalized Tutoring Program that trains the student to study efficiently and strategically. This is a great preparation for Fall classes.

Individualized summer test prep for the SAT, ACT, SSAT, and GRE. We start with a diagnostic test and a personal consultation to determine the student’s specific needs and target scores. Based upon this information, we work together with parents and students to craft a personalized preparation strategy for test day. Based upon the student’s needs, tutoring programs can range from a few sessions to cover test-taking strategies to 10 weeks of intensive review of the math, reading, and writing concepts necessary for test day success.

Our staff of writing tutors includes published authors, English teachers, ESL specialists, and English graduates from prestigious universities. Our summer writing programs range from 4-8 weeks and include personalized instruction in brainstorming, organizing ideas, outlining, composition, persuasive writing, creative writing, writing in a professional context, fiction and non-fiction writing, editing, proofreading, citing sources, and more.

For student’s who need to review poorly learned material from a previous class or who want to get a jump start on material for an upcoming class, we offer targetted summer tutoring for all academic subjects, K-12 and college.

Our highly-trained language instructors can come to your home for 4-10 week summer language instruction. We have summer language tutoring plans for Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Russian.

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Georgia Tech SAT Tutoring

Atlanta Tutors is the best place to find Georgia Tech SAT tutors and Georgia Tech college admissions consultants. We also have SAT prep tutors from Emory and a number of other prestigious universities, such as Harvard, Berkeley, UNC, and UGA.

Our Atlanta SAT tutoring programs start with a diagnostic test or a thorough analysis of past scores. Based upon these scores, we design a tutoring program to meet our students’ specific needs. While national tutoring companies offer a generic tutoring program; Atlanta Tutors crafts a personalized tutoring program based upon the particular strengths and weaknesses of the individual student. We can also design a tutoring program that focuses on just one of the SAT sections—math, reading, or writing.

All of our Atlanta SAT tutors are Emory or Georgia Tech graduate students, Juniors and Seniors at Emory or Georgia Tech with a minimum 3.5 grade point average, or graduates of prestigious national universities. In addition, all of our SAT tutors received outstanding scores on the SAT. If you have a child who is applying to Emory or Georgia Tech and you would like a tutor from one of these schools, please let us know when you fill out the online tutor request form.

We also have Georgia Tech and Emory students who offer ACT and SSAT tutoring in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

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Emory SAT Tutoring


Atlanta Tutors provides one-on-one SAT tutoring by highly-qualified Emory students.

Our Emory SAT prep tutors can enable your student to get the score that he/she needs to gain admission to Emory University. We can also assist with college admissions applications to Emory or the school of your choice.

We begin our SAT tutoring with a diagnostic test or a thorough analysis of past scores, and then we design a tutoring program to meet the specific needs of the individual student.

To maximize both the learning experience for the student and the convenience for the parent, our Emory SAT tutors come to the student’s home.

Our SAT tutoring program teaches proven test-taking strategies, strengthens and develops the confidence of the student for test day, and produces a higher score.

Our tutors are thoroughly familiar with the new SAT, so they can help your student to improve his or her score on all three sections of the SAT, including the new SAT essay.

We also have Georgia Tech SAT tutors, and tutors with degrees from a number of other prestigious universities. If you have a child who is applying to Emory or Georgia Tech and you would like a tutor from one of these schools, please let us know when you fill out the online tutor request form.

Please visit our testimonials page to see how previous clients have evaluated our Atlanta SAT tutoring programs.

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Chamblee Tutoring

ATLANTA TUTORS has a staff of outstanding tutors who are available for tutoring in and around Chamblee, GA. We offer in-home tutoring in Chamblee for all subjects and customized test preparation for the SSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, GED, and more. Our Chamblee tutors come to your home for one-on-one tutoring that is tailored to the student’s specific needs.

The following quotes are a few of the recent reviews that we have received in response to our tutoring services in Chamblee from parents of Chamblee Charter High School students:

“I am a mathematics instructional coach with DeKalb County Schools and I have 18 years experience in the school system teaching Middle School and High School mathematics. My daughter has enjoyed all of her tutors and they have really helped her to be successful in her AP classes. She was very excited with the match that you gave her with Jenn. She and Desirae get along well and Desirae says that she enjoys her style of tutoring.”
Parent of a Senior, Chamblee Charter High School

“Our tutorials with Atlanta Tutors were excellent. We will tell others about you and we will return as needed.”
Parent of a Sophomore, Chamblee Charter High School

“Aaron is an excellent tutor and he is really helping our daughter.”
Parent of a Junior, Chamblee Charter High School

To request tutoring in Chamblee, GA or one of the surrounding areas, please fill out our tutoring request form.

We also offering-home tutoring in Brookhaven and the other nearby areas. Our Dunwoody tutorsNorcross tutors, and Tucker tutors are also available for in-home tutoring.

Atlanta Tutors LLC is a local Atlanta tutoring service that provides individual tutoring in Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs. 

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Atlanta Home Tutors

Atlanta Tutors will send a highly qualified tutor to your home. Our Atlanta home tutors work with individual students in all major academic subjects. We also provide Atlanta home tutoring for the SSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, and the Georgia Milestones Exam. Home tutoring in Atlanta is convenient, affordable, and highly effective. Our Atlanta home tutors are able to customize and personalize the tutoring to meet the specific needs of the student.

We also offer home tutoring in Decatur, Alpharetta, Tucker, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Johns Creek, Gwinett, Roswell, Marietta, Kennesaw, Smyrna, and the surrounding areas of the greater Atlanta area.

Please give us a call (678-412-5457) or fill out our contact form to learn about our private tutors in Atlanta and the surrounding areas.