Holly Hong

Test Prep & Academic Tutor


I was born in Oakland and raised on Bay Farm Island, which, ironically, is actually a peninsula. Growing up under the deafening roars of commuter flights, I always knew I would one day ride one of those airplanes to a distant university to begin my adult life far from the smell of man-made lagoons and concrete-covered estuaries. Instead, when I graduated high school my next big step was to hop over to UC Berkeley. I majored in integrative biology (ecology), but I also found a great passion for English, in which I minored.

Coming from a STEM-centric family, I always had a healthy respect for the sciences and a mild distrust of “wishy-washy” literature. I remember the first time my 8th grade core teacher told me to “go deeper” into something she called the “significance” of a passage. This instruction made approximately zero sense to me; what makes something “significant”? How can we determine the value in something as subjective as books? It wasn’t until I was assigned The Hobbit for summer homework that it finally clicked for me that analytical English is much the same as any science: you can argue anything, so long as you provide sufficient evidence. 

I find that many of my students feel the same way I once did about English: it is murky, subjective, and irrelevant to their lives. I enjoy helping my students master the structure of writing, develop the clarity of expression that will allow them to argue their literary hypotheses, and fine-tune the reading, critical thinking, and research skills that will help them support their claims.

I also love sharing my passion for my former major, biology, with my students and helping them understand the world around them. At AJ, I also coach students on standardized tests such as the ACT. I enjoy helping students break down the test into manageable chunks and develop the consistent approach and techniques that help them succeed. I find it rewarding to help my students develop confidence in exams that many find intimidating and to teach them testing skills they can use in high school, college, and beyond.

When I’m not studying for standardized tests or tutoring for AJ, I spend my time playing RPG video games, watching grass grow (and planting plants for the planet), and reading archaic poetry.

Subjects Tutored:

SAT
ACT
PSAT
SAT Subject Math2
SAT Subject Literature
SAT Subject Biology E/M
Academic English
Academic Biology
AP Biology
AP English Language and Composition
AP English Literature and Composition

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