Unlike the majority of tutors, I am a specialist. I teach history, and only history, and my focus is on working with students applying for entry to elite universities. I have been tutoring the Oxford History Aptitude Test, and more recently the new Cambridge History Admissions Assessment, since 2008, and have built an unparalleled record in helping candidates score highly in the admissions assessments and then excel at interview..
I have offered specialist Oxbridge preparation and practice interviews at several leading public schools, and currently tutor at GCSE, A-level and undergraduate level, including offering extra help to current Oxbridge students. History study skills, essay planning & writing, and teaching both basic and advanced research techniques, are all specialities.
I am fortunate that my academic and professional careers have combined to make me ideally qualified to work with students who want to study history at university level. I read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and have a daughter who gained entry to Westminster and is now in her final year of reading the same subject at New College, Oxford – meaning I have direct, current experience of Oxbridge entrance and the demands made of Oxbridge students. Since 2011 my day job has been to commission and produce the books in Routledge's 'Macat Library' – 210 titles, to date, each contextualising, explaining and critiquing a seminal work in one of the humanities or social sciences that's frequently set to students at undergraduate level; this has involved building a network of more than 500 early career academics at top universities, keeping me in touch with all the latest developments in higher education. More recently, I've also begun to specialise in critical thinking, helping to build a new division at my company that's focused on teaching and assessing critical thinking skills.
I have read, written about and taught a far wider variety of history than the vast majority of academic historians. I am a contributing writer in history for the Smithsonian Magazine and for three years ran the Institution's history blog, a job that gave me a weekly remit to write on everything from Rome via the medieval Middle East to modern Australia and Africa.
I've also written five well-reviewed books, which collectively cover the Netherlands in its Golden Age, the British Raj and turn-of-the-last-century New York. At various times I've studied or taught every period from Anglo-Saxon England to the 1970s. I combine that with all the tools required to research and write good history – not to mention an undimmed enthusiasm for my subject.
Age and experience play their part as well; at 55, with a Cambridge degree, a doctorate, and some serious history under my belt, I'm in the perfect position to offer practice interviews conducted by someone with the sort of mindset and gravitas of an Oxbridge don. Realistic preparation is key to success in this demanding and competitive arena, and I have a solid track record of providing exactly that.
My recent blog posts
20/09/2018: Preparing for the Cambridge History Admissions Assessment (HAA)
History is by far the most fascinating of subjects - after all, it's the story of us - and I believe success in this field is a direct consequence of engagement. My unusual background – an historian with a PhD who has also spent years as a professional journalist and full-time author – means that I'm uniquely well-qualified to spot the compelling detail, the unusual fact, and use it to open up new vistas and new approaches to history. I believe in teaching every period with all the interesting and dramatic bits left in, but also have the experience and know-how to impart the techniques of analysis, argument and writing that are so critical to the successful historian.
What I do when I am not tutoring
I write a highly diverse, award-winning history blog at mikedashhistory.com, and am one of only two people ranked 'Top Quality Contributors' at AskHistorians, the world's biggest and busiest online public history forum. I also lecture widely and occasionally consult for and speak on a variety of historical issues for radio and TV – everything from The Today Programme and NPR to The One Show.
''Our heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude for all you did for Ben. Your calm, clear guidance together with your insightful, knowledgeable grip on history, inspired him and fortified his love of learning, discussion, and the pursuit of understanding. The time he spent with you was more valuable than you can imagine, and he enjoyed every minute. Thank you so much.'' Mother of grammar school boy receiving minimal school support with his university application who won a place at Cambridge, secured a double starred first, was the top-ranked history student in his year, and went on to full-ride postgraduate study at Harvard.
''Slowly sinking in at home that it is all going to be OK. What a roller coaster. He would not have done any of this without you - and in particular I am convinced that he must have performed really really well at the HAT and interview which was down to you. I do acknowledge your faith in him as well, when mine was certainly wavering a bit. One does wonder where he would have been without you, without me (and my wallet) and determination. But mostly I don't think he would be where he is without you. He is a lucky boy.'' Mother of Winchester student who gained an Oxford place at the second attempt, converting from Pre U to a full four-module medieval history A-level course, taught in five months, with additional Oxford HAT prep and interview practice.
''I got an offer from Cambridge! I wanted to email you to let you know how grateful I am for all your guidance and help. During the interview, I was concentrated, took copious amounts of notes, and made sure to keep my answers short and concise, all pointers I got from you, and all that I think were crucial to me getting in. However, I also want to thank you for changing the way I approach history, introducing me to a whole new level of historiography and really helping me advance to a new level of thinking. Needless to say, I do not believe I would have got a place without your patience, and your wisdom.'' Winchester boy who won a place at Fitzwilliam, Cambridge
''I achieved my 113/120 in my A2 Cold War paper and I am heading off to Manchester in September. I would like to thank you for all of the help and advice you have given me in my essay technique and my knowledge of history. I'll be taking that forward with me to University. I would like to feel that I could contact you in the future.'' A-level retake pupil from Haberdasher's Aske's School for Girls
''Thought you would like to know that Leah handed in her first paper at Manchester, having written it using the techniques you taught her. Her work was copied and circulated to the entire class as an example of how it should be done.'' Father of the same student
''Many thanks for the help you have given my daughter, your sessions have made a huge difference to her confidence and learning strategies.'' Mother of Cheltenham Ladies' College girl
''Just got my results - so thrilled across the board for everything. I thought I should let you know that I got 100% on the history exam. Thank you so much for teaching me. You made the world of difference, obviously.'' A-level pupil at St Paul's Girls School
''Thank you so much for all your help and support over the past year both for Cambridge and my retakes. There is absolutely no way that I would have been as prepared or confident within myself without you.'' Pupil at Colfe's who won a place at Newnham, Cambridge.
''Mike Dash, Keystone's top tutor (history), is a published author and speaker who, in my book, should be running the country.'' Mother of Winchester boy tutored in Pre U history, in the London Magazine.
''Clare received her A levels results today which were good enough to get her to Cambridge. Her civil rights course-work mark was 75/80 thanks to all your help. I know Clare really appreciated all the time you spent with her and we both want to thank you.'' Mother of South Hampstead High School girl
''68% in my IGCSE mock turned into 100% in the real exam!!! And I owe almost all of that to the intensive tuition we did in the run up in June. Covering everything from the Russian Revolution to the changing nature of warfare in the twentieth century in one two-and-a-half hour exam was a big ask and I could not have managed it without you.'' Pupil at Godolphin & Latymer
''We are delighted. We really felt you knew your stuff and you went far beyond the call of duty. Our daughter's result was the best we could have hoped for – she has made so much progress in the few months she was seeing you.'' Mother of Putney girl with learning difficulties who was forecast an E in IGCSE history, but achieved a B.
''Thank you so much for all the help and guidance regarding my application to Oxford and the HAT. I just completed it today and I think it went reasonably well. Your advice and encouragement have really been invaluable! I really think I would not have been able to get this far in the application process without your help.'' Singaporean student who received no encouragement or support from his family or school for an application to read history at Oxford. Tutored pro bono – he secured a place at Harris Manchester.
''We just wanted you to know that Bella has just received her IGCSE result for History - A* !!!!!! We are delighted and owe a lot of it to your fantastic tutoring.'' Mother of Cheltenham Ladies' College girl
''Hi Mike, just to let you know I managed an A for my Russian A2 paper! I'm so pleased and thank you so much for your help.'' A-level pupil at Francis Holland
''Thanks so much. My essays have gone from 2.2 standard to Firsts since I've been seeing you.'' Oxford undergraduate
''Fantastic tutor, thank you immensely.'' Mother of Oxbridge-focused A-level student
''I cannot thank you enough for all the help you have given me over the last few weeks with applications, and it all ended positively. I was offered a place!'' Girl applying for 16+ entrance to Westminster
''I was very pleased with the tuition. His school reports were predicting much poorer results.'' W.G., Notting Hill