Fran Bigman

Brown grad with twenty years of experience in ACT/SAT tutoring all over the world

21 Years Tutoring
New York, NY


I have twenty years of tutoring experience, a BA in History from Brown University, and a MPhil and PhD in English from the University of Cambridge. I also have six younger siblings, so I am good at adapting to many different kinds of personalities and learning styles, and I have a knack for knowing how to both encourage and challenge students at the same time. In recent years, my students have gained acceptance to Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, and Harvard.

Between 2008 and 2016, when I was living in the UK, I helped hundreds of students prepare for the SAT and ACT, taught preparation classes at British boarding schools, and traveled to France, China, and Austria to work intensively with students one-on-one. I therefore have over a decade of experience working with students applying to US universities from abroad, including non-native English speakers. Even the math terminology can be unfamiliar to international students: what British students call a trapezium, for example, we call a trapezoid! There are a host of other differences on the test, from the particular grammar rules of American English (hello, serial commas!) to the use of imperial measurements. I am particularly skilled in helping students navigate these differences as we focus on the deeper strategy they need to know to get their scores up.

That deeper strategy involves my focus on reading. I tell all my students that the entire test is a reading rest—even math and science sections—and always start with reading skills. I teach students how to better understand the structures of nonfiction writing: for example, a piece may begin by describing a problem and then end by suggesting a solution. I myself am a writer and cultural critic; my pieces on books and art have appeared in the Washington Post, the Times Literary Supplement, the website of the New York Review of Books, Lit Hub, and, among others. Writers at every level struggle to organize their pieces, and that makes us especially sensitive to—even obsessed with—structure, which is something that usually goes unnoticed by readers unless it’s a problem and a piece is organized badly. Calling students’ attention to structure and helping them take it apart and analyze it really gets results. I helped one of my students, who is now at Harvard, raise his ACT Reading score from 26 to a perfect 36, and many of my students see dramatic increases in their scores all around as I help them learn how to pay attention to detail while also developing a sense of the bigger picture.

In my spare time, I love to swim, explore NYC, cook Ottolenghi recipes, and plan future trips!



Age Groups

Special Needs Skills