BA, University of Kansas
What do you love about teaching?
Having taught the GMAT and LSAT each for over 10 years and each in several cities, what keeps me coming back for more is that opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life. There’s nothing greater than getting a random email from a student years later who has accomplished several goals since grad school and who just wants to say thanks again. These high-stakes entrance tests can be such a daunting challenge, but there’s so much awaiting students on the other side that I love to be involved in helping them vault over that hurdle and reap the rewards.
What subject did you struggle with the most in school and how did you overcome it?
In grade school, Handwriting kept me from straight A's many times... is that even still a grade on the report card anywhere? Later my most challenging subject was German, largely due to a disability of sorts at understanding accents. Since then, years of marriage to a Brazilian immigrant and dozens of international students and friends have helped me become much better at this!
If you weren’t teaching the GMAT, What would you be teaching instead?
I once turned down the chance to be a small college basketball player to seek a more academic path, and as my love for both sports and strategy have persisted I have a fantasy in which I am a great basketball coach. Like Gene Hackman in Hoosiers great.
Real reviewsBrian is genuinely interested in the success of his students.
Brian is wonderful. Some people do this for the money, Brian is genuinely interested in the success of his students. He's patient and really good at his job. I have already recommended Brian and the Veritas course to everyone I know even thinking about the GMAT. My score went up 40 points, and that was without even being able to do the homework due to a busy schedule, it was just from attending the classes Brian taught.
Brian was very thorough in his explanations
Brian was very thorough in his explanations without being very confusing. He tried to not only show us how to do the work but stressed the importance of finding shortcuts and being able to skip time-robbing steps whenver possible. Very happy with him overall.
My instructor, Brian, was excellent.
My instructor, Brian, was excellent. He slowed everything down and took it apart. The class was very beneficial for I had trouble alloting time for study. Brian gave advice on how to effectively manage my time and get the best results from my studying. Overall, great class.
MBA, Stanford University
What is your favorite Veritas Prep success story?
Before taking the full Veritas Prep course online with me, Alexandra had already taken the GMAT and scored just 470. Her score was low in large part because she was in just the 8th percentile on quant. She signed up for three or four hours of tutoring with me and we worked on her areas of difficulty. Using materials which evolved into the current Veritas Prep Skillbuilders, we improved her performance – and her confidence level. After just four weeks, she took the GMAT again and scored a 640 – and had improved to the 55th percentile on quant. She called me right after finishing the test and was absolutely elated. She was on cloud nine – and hearing her delight got me there, too.
What is your favorite lesson to teach?
Foundations of GMAT Logic (the first lesson). The GMAT is about problem solving and reasoning, so knowing how to apply logic is essential. That first lesson explains the structure of arguments, which is helpful. The lesson also helps students understand the tricky wording of questions. But the most important part of the lesson shows how to apply logic to get to the right answer quickly and accurately. Logic rules!
Also, I should mention that I've done live online GMAT tutoring with students in at least 30 countries. I love helping Veritas Prep grow its footprint around the world!
Which movie/TV character would do best on the GMAT?
It’s elementary: Sherlock Holmes. The GMAT might be described as a collection of logical puzzles: a series of questions that require one to apply reason (and a well-defined but limited range of knowledge and skills) to solve problems. Who could do better than Sherlock Holmes in applying logic to sort out puzzling situations? Also, Sherlock is intensely aware of the bounds of his knowledge: He recognizes both what he knows and what he doesn’t know. That clarity about the limits of evidence would help him do well on Data Sufficiency and Critical Reasoning questions. However, Sherlock would likely be frustrated that the GMAT would give him no opportunity to apply his vaunted sense of smell. Perhaps he would request an accommodation: an odorized version of the GMAT. Now that would truly be Integrated Reasoning.
Real reviewsWorking with Cliff was such a pleasure
Working with Cliff was such a pleasure - he really helped fill in the gaps for me and work to be very 'zen' as he called it, on the exam. His mix of encouragement and enthusiasm really made the process much less painful than it could've been - I really enjoyed working through the problems with him. It worked! I went in prepared, and on the first try ...- 780/6.0 (up from sub 700 on practice exams taken independently). Just got the acceptance letter from Stanford GSB, and I know it wouldn't have been possible without Veritas Prep.
I would recommend him to anyone
Cliff Smith is an outstanding teacher. He was punctual and prepared in every meeting and always found a way to speak to all levels of understanding in the class. He also found a way to make mundane topics interesting and always had multiple extra tips and strategies for each topic. I would recommend him to anyone preparing for the GMAT.
Cliff was quietly passionate about the material
He made the course engaging through twelve 3-hour sessions. He taught with slides that were well designed and executed. He covered all of the course material and provided useful summary handouts. He knew the material well, sometimes providing alternative solutions to problems.
What is your favorite lesson to teach?
Arithmetic, and it isn't even close. Learning how numbers are built and where their quirky properties come from is about as wonderful as thinking gets. In the hands of most high school instructors, math feels lukewarm and premade: Here's a theorem some dead guy thought of. We won't tell you why or how this is relevant to anything, just repeat it 700 times. And make it quick. We have another dead guy's theorem to get to. But number theory is all about felicity and improvisation: how do we know that every number that ends in 7 has a multiple that consists entirely of 1's? Why can I square any prime greater than 3, subtract one, and get a multiple of 24? Why on earth does that divisibility test for 11 work? The methods of proof are usually different and nothing is dull and predetermined, so you really get a chance to see what those philosophers meant when they called math the music of reason.
What is your favorite problem from the Official Guide?
My favorite math problem ever is 'Andrey's Broken Calculator', a great bit of whimsy from the old Soviet Union (and who knew they even had mathematical whimsy in the old Soviet Union! I thought all the math problems involved optimizing the output of a tractor). In it, your luckless friend Andrey has nothing but a sheet of paper with three integers on it - 0, m, and n, where m and n are unknown, coprime positive integers - and a calculator that can only perform one operation: taking the average of two even numbers, or the average of two odd numbers.
Andrey has been asked by the party officials to prove that no matter what m and n are, he can eventually produce ANY integer from 0 to n simply by performing computations on his calculator over and over again, and your task is to save him from plonking away miserably on the thing for eternity by coming up with a general proof. Poor Andrey had to wait a while for me to rescue him: considering I didn't even try the problem until 2008, he must've been holed up in some dour grey building for decades fretting over his calculations.
Real reviewsMatt Douglas is the King of Prep courses!
Matt Douglas is the King of Prep courses! If you want to take a GMAT prep course, take it with Matt! He knows his stuff and he keeps it interesting. He genuinely cares and wants you to do well. Its rare to find people that do it for more than a paycheck. Matt does it because he wants you to do well, he wants to help you succeed.
He demonstrated his ability to solve any question
Matt was simply fantastic. He demonstrated his ability to solve any question and answer every question. His knowledge went beyond just learning about the GMAT. He also made the class enjoyable and fun. He proved his willingness to assist each and everyone one of the students based on their ability and understanding of the topic.
I would highly recommend Matt
Matt is a wonderful instructor. He's very engaging and is eager to help you improve your GMAT score. I really enjoyed his style of teaching, working through pieces of the lesson then reinforcing it with homework problems. I really enjoyed his class and never felt intimidated if I didn't understand a concept and had more questions. I get the sense in his eyes there's no such thing as a dumb question. He's happy to help any student that is eager to learn and improve their score. I would highly recommend Matt to anyone in need of a good instructor.