Increasing numbers of students are topping up their knowledge and preparing for their GCSE math with private tutors. 1 in 4 families used a tutor last year (this rises to 2 in 4 in London) according to a recent report by the Tutors Association. This puts the good ones in high demand.
The good news is that our GCSE and learning experts at gcseonlinecourses.co.uk provide below their considerations of how to choose a tutor so you learn effectively, make an informed decision and achieve your learning goals.
Why use a tutor?
Additional learning and revision resources such as tutors or online courses will help strengthen subject comprehension, boost confidence, get them prepared for exams and build important learning skills.
The foundations are laid in class but often students need more time to understand the subject, or to have it explained a different way, or to revisit and practice a topic to make it stick – and this isn’t always possible at the pace teachers need to go and the number of students in class that need their attention.
If a student starts to fall behind, they can lose confidence and struggle to catch back up, negatively effecting their school experience, knowledge and results – when all they needed was a little supplementary help along the way.
How to choose a good GCSE tutor
Good tutors are in demand. In some areas dense with secondary schools tutors have waiting lists terms in advance and supply and demand means they are selective about who they work with - top tutors interview YOU.
Starting early to assess your options can help and remember to factor in travel, budget, your existing schedule and other commitments. The advice below will help you to ask the right question and make good choices when selecting additional revision support...
First speak to your teacher and ask what are the areas of the syllabus you need to work on, which will help you understand your academic strengths and weaknesses. Are there any additional free resources available at school or online that you could try in advance of tutoring?
If you then pursue additional revision support, many tutors will provide an initial assessment and be able to propose the number, duration and frequency of lessons - an experienced tutor should be able to advise how best to progress to your specified exam goal.
Don’t think that hiring a tutor, online or locally, is 'job done'. Tutors give homework – sometimes as many as four or five pieces a week on top of your usual homework from school – so consider the full commitment and work out a schedule that allows it.
Likewise, we say that simply purchasing one of our GCSE revision courses is not enough, you need to follow the programme, complete the lessons, try the practice questions and revisit what you didn’t get correct.
Get references and recommendations. Most people can write a good profile promoting their tutoring abilities, but how many students have they worked with, what results did they achieve, what experience do they have with the subject, how do they stay up to date with the curriculum? It’s not always possible to engage a qualified teacher, but you want to avoid people who have jumped onto the tutoring gold-rush with little experience of the subject, teaching techniques or previous results. You should also ask for a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service) to ensure safety when going into someone’s home.
Also use the trial session to see if you get on with the tutor. Extra lessons and homework can already seem like an effort, so it will help with motivation if there is a good repour between student and tutor. Likewise, you’ll find out if the tutor has a complementary teaching style to your learning style. These two softer assessments can actually make a big difference to what is achieved from each session and the end exam result.
Ask if they can they provide monthly progress reports as these can help you understand if the teaching style suits, if the level is correct, whether GCSE exam preparation is on track and if the investment is paying off – or if you need to make adjustments. Involving parents in this assessment can be a good way of ensuring accountability for both student and tutor.
Check their cancellation policy, as Illness and other events can interrupt the planned time with the tutor. What type of cancellation policy do they have - is it 24 hours or two days or none? What are the exceptions to the cancellation policy? Obviously the tutors time cannot be wasted but you could find the arrangement too inflexible for you and payments still being required for missed lessons. If you ask all these questions up front, both tutor and student/parent will know where they stand on cancelling lessons.
Can they provide test preparation and feedback closer to the exams? This will help with the students preparation and if the tutor is able to mark and feedback accurately, they can see where more work is required and tailor remaining sessions to fill in knowledge gaps. Working in exam conditions also mentally prepares the student for the big day.
How much is a GCSE tutor?
Logic and practicalities have to play a part when deciding if you’re going to use a tutor. It’s not uncommon to start GCSE tutoring a year in advance, but as session start at £25 for 45mins – 1hr (rising to over £50 for a qualified teacher or in areas like London) you’ll want to start financial planning early.
You may also need to be quick off the blocks to bag the best tutor. In some UK secondary school hot spots, tutors can be booked many terms in advance and it's the tutors who are being selective about who they work with, not the other way around.
Online tutoring v private tutoring
Instead of relying on the unknown expertise of a local tutor, be that a student, parent or teaching assistant, an online revision course option like GCSE ONLINE COURSES is an increasingly popular choice with thousands of students enrolling each term.
Online revision is beneficial in areas where accessing a tutor is tricky due to location or competition and if affordability is an issue. An on-demand course like this GCSE Maths package can be accessed anytime, anywhere and is less than a 1:10 of the cost of a private tutor. They provide busy students with tuition at a time and a place that suits them.
Our courses are created and explained by qualified teachers and GCSE examiners who really understand the topics and the lessons are all online which reduces the need for an additional after-school journey or commitment to a tutor visiting your home.
There is no doubt though that private tutoring, provided you select a qualified teacher (or competent alternative), can be more tailored to a student’s individual needs. And particularly if the student is starting behind their peers in terms of academic level or lacks self-motivation to revise alone – then private tutoring can be worth the significant investment.
We hope that these tips on selecting a good tutor help with your decision and preparation for GCSEs. Remember, our online GCSE revision courses are a great way to supplement what you’re learning at school. The subjects are explained by qualified teachers and examiners and can be watched and revisited as many times as needed to ensure you understand the high scoring exam subject preperation.