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Videos on how to study with the techniques W. S. Emara used through high school and refined at Columbia University.

Interview with a Tutor


How did u start tutoring?
I was appointed by some of my high school teachers to help peers. One thing led to the next and, thankfully, I had my first paid session through a recommendation from my guidance counselor when I was a junior.
What schools do your students attend?
I currently have students at Trinity, Riverdale, Browning, Collegiate, Spence, Columbia Prep, Dalton, Lab, and LaGuardia.
How do you remember everything?
I've been asked this question a few times, especially by my math students. It isn't too difficult remembering the material because the curriculums across different schools are pretty similar, and they don't change much from year to year. So, if I'm working with a few sophomores in a couple subjects, they will usually be tested on the same concepts at around the same time. It also wasn't too long ago that I was in school taking the very same classes myself. Finding creative personalized ways to explain it to different students is what keeps it interesting.
Why are grades so important to you?
As you know, it's not about the grades so much as it is about the opportunities that good scores bring. So really, tutoring is about improving opportunities, not scores. That’s what drives me.
Is there a specific subject that you prefer to tutor?
Diversity in subject matter keeps sessions interesting. I definitely enjoy working towards a goal and seeing results in my students’ math scores. The creative aspect of working with students on their writing is also great.
What was the most difficult subject for you when you were in school?
I guess, Spanish. I definitely had to work harder at it than other subjects. I learn languages better through experiences than through textbooks. High school was relatively easy when compared to undergrad. I had a lot more on my plate in college between being premed, tutoring, working at the microbio lab, and working towards publishing our work—we went through a lot of iterations. A lot of my process for how to study came as a result of trial and error during that period.
What do you hate about your job?
Nothing. The least enjoyable aspect for me would have to be the accounting. I guess I don't particularly enjoy that type of math.
Why do you always dress so formally?
(Laughter) I don’t always wear a suit. Besides middle and high school students, I also sometimes work with professionals in and around their workplace on writing personal statements and letters and such. A lot of my high school students are also in uniform. I know you’re always talking about being comfortable, but it’s not that bad. I don’t wear a tie and I’ve found these insoles that make wearing dress shoes super comfortable.
What are some of the more interesting sessions you’ve had through the years?
Some of the more memorable sessions included building things. Helping a student brainstorm and then construct a working wooden leg with springs for a physics project was fun. Working with chem lab kits to conduct experiments are always fun too. Instead of having students try to recall what happened during a lab at school when working on a lab report, I can explain things as they happen. It turns the lab into a much more deliberate experience. There are a lot of teachable moments there.
What's the weirdest thing that’s happened during a session?
One of my longtime student’s cat comes by where we’re working and very dramatically starts twirling as it coughs up a fur ball. That was pretty weird. I got a closer than usual haircut once, and another student’s bird decided to land on my head for some reason. Student focus is basically over at that point.
What's with those vids?
(Laughter) You know, those were filmed such a long time ago. At this point, those vids are only up there to provide comedic relief and material to the students that see them. The graduation one is still funny though.


W. Sam Emara is a Columbia University graduate who tutors a range of subjects in-person in New York City and online for those outside NYC. To schedule a session call 917-535-1777, or send an email to To learn more about Sam’s experience see the Roadmap section below.


NYC Lab School
Chosen by his High School teachers to tutor peers.
W. S. Emara tutors New York City students from K–12 in-person, and online via skype video calls for those outside NYC.
New York University Medical Center Microbiology Research Laboratory
Design and perform experiments in infectious disease as a member of the lab group of Department of Medicine Chairman Martin J. Blaser, MD.
Recieved email:
Accepted into Columbia University
Continued to tutor students and conduct research as a premed biology major.
Publishes article on microbiology research
click to read
Emara Academic Solutions™
Returned to NYC to continue his tutoring practice.
Friedrich-Engels Gymnasium Senftenberg, Deutschland
Taught English to students from grades 9 to 12 in German High School.

Revitalized English department, streamlining the ambitions of the students and the requirements of standardized testing into a contemporary curriculum.
Internship in Building Community
Facilitated the livelihood of students enrolled in Columbia University’s High School Summer Program as a Resident Advisor.

Coordinated and supervised extracurricular activities for students throughout NYC.


Larisa F.
(tutored regularly from September ’05 to June ’08 in Math and Chemistry)
"I walk into a session not even knowing how to start a type of problem, and I leave able to solve any version of it."
Dan B.
(a Writing client in January’09)
"He’s just so good at it… he’s like a machine, you give him a writing prompt and out comes an A paper."
Ben T.
(tutored regularly from August ’06 to June ’07 in Math and then College Admissions Essay Writing)
"[W. S. Emara] was involved and interested in my success. While other tutors I’ve had were impersonal time-watchers, my Emara Academic Solutions sessions wouldn’t even start until after some time talking with the family."
Ina R.
(mother of two students tutored in English in ’07)
“Besides the immediate results of higher English grades, the more striking results were long-term. Both of my children became more engaged students that take pride in their work raising scores in more than just English class.”