-10+ /11+ English and public school entrance exams, including pre-tests
-10+/11+ Maths and public school entrance exams, including pre-tests
-10+/11+ Reasoning (Verbal and non-verbal) and public school entrance exams, including pre-tests
-13+ Maths and Science
-(i)GCSE Chemistry/(i)GCSE Physics/(i)GCSE Biology
-AS/A Level Maths
-AS/A Level Chemistry
-AS/A Level Physics
-University level (BSc) Maths
I have experience tutoring online (using Skype/Zoom + Online Whiteboards). I have taught various ages from 10 to A level students, and internationally (Spain, China, US). I also have experience tutoring in the US education system (I have had students who studied at the American School in London).
I started off tutoring at quite a young age - whilst in the final years of high school - by helping my father, a Maths tutor himself, with his younger students. I used my experience of having sat the 10+ exams (for entrance to Westminster Under School) and 13+ exams (after which I was awarded an honorary scholarship to Westminster School) myself to help those students who were preparing for the 10+, 11+ and 13+ exams. From this age, I realised how satisfying it is to help someone else understand a topic with which they had previously been struggling and I particularly enjoyed the challenge of having to explain a complex topic in a simple way.
GSCE results: 10 A*s, 1A
A Level results: 3As (Maths, Further Maths, Physics), 1B (Chemistry).
NB: in 2004, A was the highest grade for A levels (ie not A*)
After finishing school, I studied Materials Science at Oxford University for one year before deciding on a change in direction. I left Oxford and achieved a high 1st (Hons) BSc in Mathematics from UCL, being awarded the Andrew Rosen prize for Excellence in Applied Maths/Fluid Dynamics in my final year, before completing an MSc from Imperial College in Computational Fluid Dynamics. I tutored throughout my entire university education, both privately and via a few tutoring companies, focusing more on helping GCSE and A level students with their exam preparation as well as assisting with university applications (personal statements, interview preparation etc), having been through the process myself recently. Not only was it enjoyable to help students with harder questions, but I also liked sharing my own experiences of university to help students figure out what they wanted to do after school. The university application process can at times be daunting and stressful on both the students and their families, so it was rewarding to help ease that pressure whenever possible.
After graduating from Imperial College in October 2010, I was offered the chance to join an extremely successful hedge fund (at the time, the biggest in Europe) Brevan Howard on their informal graduate programme. I took a break from tutoring to focus on this career, and within a few years had been hired permanently onto their Risk team. After a couple of years on the risk team and having gotten more comfortable with that part of my life, I decided to restart tutoring on the side as I found that that I missed the satisfaction I had gotten from helping students.
In April 2019 I got married and decided to take a career break, after eight years at Brevan Howard, to facilitate an extended honeymoon of travels. After a few months of travelling around South America, Australia and New Zealand, we (luckily) returned to London in February 2020 just before the Covid virus situation really escalated. I tutored a few international students over my travels and am well set up for conducting virtual lessons, which is especially useful with the current lockdown. For clarity, I use a combination of Skype/Zoom for video calling along with an online whiteboard on which both the student and I can view and write notes. These notes are also stored permanently, so students can go back and look at them whenever they want without worrying about anything being lost! Having completed all my travels and returned to London, my current focus is on my tutoring for the foreseeable future.
My personal approach to tutoring is to help students improve their subject knowledge, exam performance and confidence.
In my opinion, the key to good tutoring is communication, flexibility and patience.
Communication and building a genuine relationship with the students is of upmost importance to me. I like to find out about the students’ interests and hobbies as I find that having a broader picture of a student’s life helps me tailor my examples and questions to use topics that would engage them. I also find it a great way to help students relax and open up more about themselves, which can also help me identify which aspects to focus my tutoring on. I like to be very open with students and give feedback on their performance in each lesson, as this honesty and genuine relationship leads to the greatest results. I am a firm believer in encouraging students to ask questions no matter how silly they may seem at the time (a moment’s stupidity vs a lifetime’s ignorance), and always aim to encourage intellectual curiosity.
Communication with parents is almost as important - initially to determine their own expectations of the tuitions sessions and to set up a high level plan of how to achieve those expectations. I also like to update the parents at regular intervals on the progress of the student.
I like to be flexible in my style of tutoring as every student, family and school is different. From the discussions with the student, parents (and even school, if necessary) I decide on the best approach to lessons for each student - ie whether I set homework or not, whether I tutor in line with school work or separately, whether I focus our sessions on improving subject knowledge, exam technique, dealing with high pressure situations etc. I am also flexible with my individual lesson plans, so if the student has encountered a particular topic or notion they would like to discuss in a lesson which differs from my initial plan then we will focus on that topic first before reverting to my original plan - and I adjust future lesson plans accordingly to account for the “lost” time. This flexibility in my approach is a huge factor in the significant improvement in grades that my students achieve.
Patience is the other huge pillar in my approach. Different people pick up different skills at different rates, and I am hired as a tutor to help improve the situation - combining flexibility with patience means when we encounter difficult topics, I will try many different ways to explain the same thing until one of those works! Students should never be made to feel like they are not good enough at a topic, and should instead be encouraged to change their thinking slightly. A huge aspect in students performing well in exams and interviews is their confidence, and this confidence should be nurtured through good teaching techniques and high levels of patience to ensure their confidence is not affected at the times when they struggle with certain concepts.
What I do when I am not tutoring
After eight years working in the Risk team of a Hedge Fund, I took a career break last year and have spent the last ten months or so travelling around South America, Australia and New Zealand.
I love to cook, and whilst the London lockdown is in place I have actually been shopping and cooking for some of my less mobile neighbours who live in the same apartment block.
I like playing football and also enjoy cycling.
I also enjoy reading, playing the piano and playing board games.
My favourites boardgames are: Articulate, Codenames, Scrabble, Boggle and Monopoly (the original as well as the card version: Monopoly Deal).
“We are really grateful to have Mr Athavan as my daughter’s tutor. My daughter did well in the school assessments in January this year, especially in Mathematics. She had additional Science lessons with Mr Athavan since March & she enjoyed all the lessons & learnt a lot from him. I would highly recommend Mr Athavan in the future to my friends whose children are preparing for UK school entry exams.” – Mother of Year 10 CLC applicant from Hong Kong
“Athavan, thank you for everything! My son really enjoyed your sessions and got into Harrow which was our first choice!”
''I worked with Athavan on the more complex parts of the A level topics that I was struggling with - he really helped me understand the harder parts of topics like: forces, probability, integration and differential equations; and knowing which methods to apply to different questions. He was always friendly and patient, but made sure we progressed well with each session. I got an A* in my mocks which was brilliant - thanks again!''
''Athavan, we are thrilled to inform you that Mark was given a place to study at City of London which we have gladly accepted. Your tuition classes really helped him improve his Maths as well as his confidence - it is a pleasure to see! Thanks for all your time and help!''
''Thank you so much for the time you spent with our son over the past year. He achieved As in his Maths, Physics and Chemistry GCSE exams - a huge improvement on the Bs and Cs he was getting before we started the classes with you!”
''Athavan has been tutoring our son Felix for nearly a year now, at first in preparation for the 11+ Maths and English papers, but subsequently we kept the maths lessons going because Felix was enjoying them so much. We are an English family in Madrid and have found connecting with Athavan remotely incredibly easy. He’s also been very flexible the few times we needed to move things around. But best of all we have found his manner calm, likeable and relatable which has meant that Felix has learnt a great deal whilst still enjoying the class. I highly recommend Athavan as a personal tutor.''
''Mr Athavan is extremely good in what he teaches. He has immense patience and is responsible for what he is teaching you, making sure you understand each step and the logic behind it. He understands the mind of an examiner which he utilises to help his students to achieve to the best of their ability.''
''Mr Thiru has been the best Math tutor I've ever had. His teaching style is very flexible. He makes sure I understand every little detail by recording every steps of thinking instruction down for me to check in my own time. This has boosted my understanding of maths and I'm very grateful.''